Class #2 - Maya User Interface highlights

VIP: Snow Day class #2 review done and posted at 12:17 p.m. CONTAIN NEW MATERIAL - P.S.1. and P.S.2 NOT in the original email note answer to Frodo Baggins!

  1. The Menu Sets for Maya consist of 5 different menus to choose from: APSDR is the acronym I use to remember them. Animation, Polygons, Surfaces, Dynamics and Rendering. It will be March or April before we have used some commands from all five of the menus in the Maya Menu Sets. Different versions of Maya you can purchase have extra menu sets.
  2. There are more menus in Maya than just the top of the application window. Panels have menus and different option windows that are almost like dialog boxes will have menus too. You will see all three menus in action during the 2nd class. Option windows are invoked by choosing the Option Box on a menu command. For example, here is what choosing the Create menu, Polygon Primitives, Sphere option box looks like. Just click the option box to see what the Option Window looks like when using Maya. Notice it has two menus: Edit and Help. You will likely use the Edit menu Reset Settings command quite a few times this semester.
  3. The Status Bar will be used very often. Note that the Status Bar has at its first item the menu set chooser where you choose A or P or S or D or R (APS DR). Currently, the chosen menu set in the above Maya window is seen to be the Animation menu. The very last item on the Status Bar is the icon for showing or hiding the Channel Box.
  4. I seldom use the Shelf, but some Maya artists do like to use the Shelf. I will try to use it more this semester so you get some experience with it and can decide if its part of your working style or not.
  5. The QWERTY tools are used quite often, but you do not ever need to use these keyboard shortcuts to choose the most popular toolbox tools. I do use Q W E and R quite often. Think of W as an upside down M and it will remind you of the M in Move tool. Think of the E as the E in rotatE and you will have the idea of the rotate tool for rotating objects. Think or the R as the R in Resize, but it is actually called the Scale tool that resizes objects smaller or larger. Of course, it you look at the keyboard, you see that W E and R are in the same order left to right as their tools are arranged from top to bottom.
  6. Channel Box. Channel Box. Channel Box. Very important. We will use this all the time in class.It is a key for modeling objects. It is used all the time in classic animation of objects too.
  7. Quick Layout buttons I only used the first two, the topmost two for the first few months of learning Maya. Only later did I start to use the 3rd and 4th quick layout shortcuts. And really, if you know the spacebar trick you might rarely ever use the topmost two layout buttons. Pressing the space bar is much faster.
  8. Layers can wait until later in the class before we need to take advantage of them. Display layers are a fairly simple idea, so we might look at that soon, but won't really need to use it until much later.
  9. Time Slider, scrubbing, keyframes. We will get to this as soon as we do a simple animation using Maya. Frames and Keyframes. This experience will help you learn Adobe Flash or Adobe After Effects much faster later on, since the same concepts apply to those applications.
  10. Playback controls allow you to play your animation or move through it forward or backward one frame at a time and so on.
  11. Range Slider is used to allow you to focus on only a short portion of your animation, to select only a certain range of frames in the exciting story to work on and preview and get just the way you want it to be. The TRex scratching its nose, for example as part of a larger story of a cartoon dinosaur. Focus on 200 frames and playback and work only on that portion of a larger animation of say 20,000 frames.
  12. Ignore the Character Menu. We probably won't use it in a one semester course.
  13. The Command Line is where we will look for feedback and see either success or an error message after we try to do some command with Maya. The area to the right side of the Command Line is very useful to watch and help you be more effective when working with Maya. The area on the left side is where we will put a few MEL (Maya Embedded Language) commands from time to time, just to see what is going on when we use the user friendly menu commands and the shelf to do things. Its all done behind the scenes using MEL.
  14. The Help Line. Where is it located at? Look there very often and you will get confident with effectively using and understanding Maya faster than if you don't watch that Help Line.