DMA Central

THE OFFICIAL COMMUNITY FOR DIGITAL MEDIA ACADEMY

Maya 3D – Alternative Uses, Alternative Careers

Maya is well known for it’s role in feature animation production, special effects, and the video game industry.  Indeed, when students enter one of my DMA Maya classes, it’s usually one of these three things that they are interested in pursuing.  However, in addition to teaching the fundamentals of Maya, I also like to broaden their perspective of what it can be used for.  That way, when students finish the class, they not only have an understanding of the software, they also have a lot more potential job titles they could be looking at.

Augmented Reality

In a previous post, I discussed the burgeoning field of Augmented Reality (AR), and how Maya was used to create some interactive AR exhibits at MSI Chicago.  This technology is not only for static displays and cameras however.  There is a growing body of AR applications for mobile devices.  Users place a card or some other marker on a tabletop and then point their mobile device’s camera at the target.  On screen, graphics are superimposed on the live video and users can interact with these on screen graphics, and even play games with them.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koRLVqfE9mg]

South Park

Did you know that Maya is used to create South Park?  That surprises a lot of people, probably because the show looks like it was created with paper cutouts.  The truth of the matter is that it takes a lot of sophisticated work to make something this crude.  While the original pilot was made with cutouts, the demands of weekly television production soon dictated a digital workflow.  The production quickly moved to Maya because of its robust animation tools and virtual camera.  If you’d like to read more about it, there’s a very good profile of the production on Apple’s website.

Data visualization

What is data visualization?  Data visualization is the art of turning information into something visible.  We are all familiar with the charts and graphs in the newspaper or our science textbooks.  It can be much more than just charts and graphs, and it can be much more than static 2D images.  It can encompass 3D graphics, and some data is best visualized using time-based visuals, like animation and video.  More and more, engineers and designers among others are turning to 3D software to make complex information come to life in a way that is both accessible and entertaining.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMrOFuSZAj4]

Virtual sets

If you’ve got young kids, or if you just happen to watch Sesame Street nowadays, you’re probably familiar with one of the recurring segments called Elmo’s World.  Elmo’s world is made to look like a child’s drawing, and it’s got a lot of whimsical elements – dancing desks, bouncing computers, etc.  Elmo is a real puppet, but almost none of the elements around him are real.  Elmo is performed in front of a blue screen, and then the background is filled in with a virtual set created in 3D.  The moving furniture around him are actually digital puppets, performed in real-time with the real Elmo puppet.  This approach isn’t unique to Sesame Street, as you can see from the example below.  The puppets are manipulated in front of a blue screen, which is then replaced with a virtual forest set that is connected to match the moves of the real camera.  It may be for kids, but like in the case of South Park, there is really sophisticated technology behind it.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7c4XIsJd2A]

And more…

In my next post, I’ll explore some more examples of alternative uses for Maya and 3D including motion graphics, non-photorealistic rendering, and even illustration.  Until then, find some inspiration by perusing some of the work produced by users of Maya, as showcased on the Autodesk website.

[Bloglines] [del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [LinkedIn] [Mixx] [MySpace] [Newsvine] [Propeller] [Reddit] [Squidoo] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
posted by DMA Jordan in Maya,News Blog and have Comments (2)

Learning Maya Animation – One Step at a Time

Friends, has this ever happened to you?  You’ve just finished a marathon session putting the finishing touches on a project when (who else?) the client stops by with a lot of “helpful” revisions.  All that time you put in, all the invitations you declined, all the social engagements you postponed, that Netflix rental lying on the top of the DVD player you put off watching… all those sacrifices wasted because now you’ve got to put even more time into this project.  What a headache!

 Don’t despair, friend.  Because I’ve got the solution for you.  It’s simple, it’s easy, and it’s secrets can be yours for only $19.99 plus shipping and handling!

Seriously though, this is a real situation that many students and professionals face.  In creative professions such as 3D animation, this is the norm.  Work hard, critique, make changes, critique, undo those changes, and repeat.  Now, if you work smart, this cycle of work and constructive feedback can actually help you make the best product possible.  But if you don’t understand this cycle, you are just going to be frustrated in your efforts.

Fortunately, it’s not too difficult to work smart if you can remember one phrase – “one step at a time.”  Whatever you’re tackling, whether it’s a screenplay or a website layout or a music video, it’s important to work in stages.  This is called working “iteratively.”

Since I teach the pro and teen Maya classes at DMA, I’ll take this general idea and apply it to the process of 3D modeling.  3D modeling, like any part of Maya, can be very complex, so it is even more important to work in a systematic way and give yourself room to backtrack if necessary, whether based on client/teacher feedback, or simply your own judgment.  What that translates to in the context of modeling is: work with as little detail as possible, make some adjustments, add more detail, make some adjustments, add some final detail, make final adjustments, and smooth it out.

So, I share with you this cautionary tale from a university class I taught several years back.  The project was to model an environment – architecture, some props, and some effects.  It was the final project, and students had about a month to finish up their fairly complex scene.

One student, who did not understand the process of working iteratively, started working on a banana for a bowl of fruit that existed in the center of his scene. I urged him to do a rough pass on it, like a simple cube stretched out.  Then he could return to it later, add a little bit more detail, fashion that into a closer approximation of the banana, and then move onto something else.  Finally, he could come back, smooth it out, and that would be that.

Well, he didn’t really listen and, like so many novices, started out with an extremely high-resolution cube that he was nearly impossible to change except by moving each row of points, one at a time, to match the profile of the reference imagery he had imported.  And that’s how he spent the rest of that class, face close to the screen, picking and moving, picking and moving, picking and moving.  When I arrived to class the following week, there he was, hunched over, moving those points, and with hundreds to go before he was going to make it look like a real banana.

In the end, he spent hours and hours of his time working on that banana, and never really got to finish the rest of the scene.  By the last week, it was really too late.  The banana didn’t even look that great.  Because all of those points had been moved individually, it ended up looking like a bumpy yellow root.

This poor student made a very common novice error.  In 3D modeling, it’s tempting to try and jump to the end by adding lots of detail (i.e. points and edges) to a model because that’s what they look like when their finished – high-resolution geometry.  But that’s a last step, not a first step.  It’s important to work with as little detail as possible, getting the underlying structure and proportions and the contour of the model right before you start adding a lot of detail.

Changes, adjustments, refinements – these are an inevitable part of the process, even if you are working alone.  So, you need to develop a workflow that accounts for change.  The student in my story slipped on the proverbial (and literal) banana.  You can avoid that fate by taking things one step at a time.

You can read more about Maya Animation here:

Continue the lesson here:

Part 1: Learn Maya Animation

Part 2:  Learn Maya Animation

Part 3:  Learn Maya Animation

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%
Have you completed your summer camp enrollment?  Enroll for Summer Camp Now!  Here are some handy Digital Media Academy links for adult, teen, preteen and kids summer camp scheduling details.

Click here for classes for adults:  Digital Media Academy Course List

Click here summer camps for teens:  Digital Media Academy Summer Camps for Teens

Click here summer camps for kids:  Digital Media Academy Summer Camps for PreTeen Kids

Click here summer camps for young children:  Digital Media Academy Summer Camps for Kids

[Bloglines] [del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [LinkedIn] [Mixx] [MySpace] [Newsvine] [Propeller] [Reddit] [Squidoo] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
posted by DMA Jordan in News Blog and have Comments (2)

DMA's Maya Certification Program – An Accelerated, Immersive Experience

DMA’s Maya Certification program centers on its series of 3d modeling and animation courses. These courses are broad and deep and tackle some of the most complex problems and powerful tools in Maya, Autodesk’s industry standard software for 3D modeling, animation, rendering, and visual effects. From a beginning of how to create basic shapes in Maya I, to a finalized piece with finished facial animations, body rigging, and narrative based story  – the Digital Media Academy series of courses provides an intense submersion into the Maya toolkit and workflow.

Paul Randall and Karen Laszkiewicz – who attended DMA at Stanford University as part of a partnership with NOVA this past summer – in collaboration with other students at animation summer camp created the sample project displayed below.  Both Paul and Karen were among the Digital Media Academy attendees who tackled all four courses back to back.  The amount of technical information was huge.  The requirements to process and apply the information were quick.  And the necessity to work as a team came as an extra spice to the mix.  Paul and Karen were integral parts of a diverse team that included participants of varying ages, abilities, gender, and nationality.  They both kept learning, kept producing and working with the team through the deadline to create the final piece seen here.

This project is based on a story from a children’s book and due to time constraints does not have voice over or final render.  That said, in this format you can see the scripted words (for voice over) and the skeleton (rigged, model) and other directional tools.  The important thing to remember is that Paul and Karen started with no experience in 3d or Maya and after 20 days of class were able to produce this.  Digital Media Academy will get you started on your new career path!  The skills they departed with will enable them to pursue the field of 3d art, modeling and animation as a viable career path.  What are you interested in learning with Maya?  Is it time to learn new skills to be competitive in today’s employment marketplace?  Why not learn new skills and have fun too at Digital Media Academy’s Maya summer camp?  Please join the conversation, and leave a comment below! 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dy_0KU6mUj0

Looking for more information on Maya Certification?  Please click here:  Maya Certification   Which Digital Media Academy location will work best for you?  Take a look!  Please click here:  Digital Media Academy Adult Training Locations.

 

[Bloglines] [del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [LinkedIn] [Mixx] [MySpace] [Newsvine] [Propeller] [Reddit] [Squidoo] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
posted by DMA Jordan in News Blog and have Comment (1)

Boost Your Job Career with DMA Certification! Get Certified in Video Production, Game Design, Maya, Film, Web Design

Are you ready to give your job career a boost?

Come to DMA this summer and get certified. You can earn a certification in Video ProductionWeb Design and ProductionMaya, Digital Filmmaking(Teen Only), or 3d Video Game Design(Teen Only)! You can jump start your current career with a DMA Certification. Or, you can switch to a new career path and become a Maya Modeler, Maya Animator, Special Effects Coordinator, Film maker, Video Producer, Video Editor, Web Designer, Graphic Designer, 3d Video Game Designer, and more! The choice is yours!

You can choose to take the hands-on computer training courses at any of Digital Media Academy’s beautiful locations including: Stanford University in Palo Alto, UC San Diego, University of Texas at Austin, University of Chicago in Illinois, University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Johns Hopkins, George Washington University in Washington D.C., Harvard University in Boston, St. Johns in New York, University of California, Los Angeles, Case Western in Ohio, and more. Register for training courses today.

Get a Certification from DMA: Game Design, Maya, Film, Web Design

Digital Media Academy = Apple Authorized Training Center

You can also earn an Apple Certification through DMA’s courses.
Learn more about being Apple Certified at DMA.


http://www.digitalmediaacademy.org

[Bloglines] [del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [LinkedIn] [Mixx] [MySpace] [Newsvine] [Propeller] [Reddit] [Squidoo] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
posted by DMA Jordan in News Blog and have No Comments

Learning Maya made simple

By Dave Bittorf, Lead 3d Modeling and Animation Instructor, DMA @ UC San Diego

Learning Maya can really open some doors for you in the world of 3D, animation, and special effects.  This will be my 3rd summer with DMA and I love how streamline the curriculum is.  Here is a quick overview of the Maya I and II courses.

maya8-5_flexshot_3d_3in_web-copy

MAYA I : Introduction to 3D Modeling
_________________________________________________

Maya has become one of the foremost 3D packages in the film industry. Participants in this Maya I training course will explore the Maya interface, workflow and production pipeline. The course includes an in-depth analysis of the modeling and texturing process. The class will also introduce students to basic rigging, blendshapes and other character animation functions.

During the course, you’ll use many of Maya’s high-end modeling tools to create a fully modeled, textured, lit and rendered interior set design. You’ll also construct a game character and a higher-poly organic head. And you’ll do basic rigging for a pre-built character including blendshape (for facial animation) setup and use these rigs for basic character animation

MAYA II : 3D Character Animation
________________________________________________

In this Maya training course, you’ll learn the advanced features of Maya’s animation package. We’ll explore the dope sheet and graph editor in depth, and learn about keyframes and how to manipulate them to create believable motion. Many of the basic tenets of good animation will be covered to help you understand the difference between motion and believable physics and weight-based animation.

During the course, you’ll create multiple animation projects, including custom rigs utilizing techniques like IK, spline IK, custom skinweights and custom character control systems. These projects (including illustrations of stretch & squash, the whip principle, secondary motion and anticipation/action/follow-through) will be output both as playblasts and portfolio-ready rendered clip.

I hope you can join DMA for an amazing Maya learning experience this summer.

[Bloglines] [del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [LinkedIn] [Mixx] [MySpace] [Newsvine] [Propeller] [Reddit] [Squidoo] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
posted by DMA Jordan in News Blog and have No Comments