Learning Maya Personal Edition
Book Review

Learning Maya Personal Edition
Company: Alias|Wavefront

Price: $19.99

Quick, think of the high spots in the most recent Star Wars movies Couldn’t think of any? Neither can I. Still, as I scheme of ways to bleed George out of the fourteen dollars that was basically stolen from me, I am reminded that the visual effects were very well done (overlooking Jar-Jar’s footprints for the moment). Why were the effects so good, so realistic? Well you’ve got Maya to thank in large part for that. Here I’m not referring to the surprisingly advanced natives of the Yucatan peninsula, rather I’m speaking of a rendering program put forth by the fine folks at Alias|Wavefront.

If Maya is so cool why not just run out and buy a copy? Well the coolness that is Maya is also a $2,000.00 budget buster. Cheap if you can get work using Maya, expensive if you just want to mess around with it to see if you want to make it your life’s work. How to get around this conundrum? Simple, get the Maya 4.5 personal learning edition, it’s free. Once you’ve got your personal learning edition copy and put up with the slightly laborious process of scoring a software key you’re ready to learn Maya.

This is where the real reviewing starts. Just what can you learn from a personal learning edition? How steep is the learning curve? How is the information presented? And perhaps most importantly is learning Maya a complete waste of time for the average user? Last question first: Yes, for the vast majority of folks learning Maya will be a complete waste of time. You’ll never use the skills in any other project and there’s no way you’d pony up two grand just to have Maya lifelessly reside on your hard drive. So movie hobbyists stop reading now. Those of you with a serious yearning to learn Maya (and you know who you are) should keep on reading because the rest of the questions will be answered below.

If you’re wondering just how much you can get out of Maya Personal Learning Edition the answer is a bunch. By the time you’re finished with the CD you won’t be heading up any god awful projects for Lucasfilms but you will have a solid grounding in the basics. You’ll know how to create shapes, animate said shapes, and with a little inspiration you could do some really neat stuff. Of course you may be wondering if the information is going to come flying at you at breakneck speed or if you’re going to be over coddled making the experience more boring than standing in line at the local DMV. Fortunately the CD is pretty well self paced, a little experience with a CAD program will go a long way towards helping you get going but I suspect most anyone with a passable amount of computer experience will get through the tutorial easily. The presentation of the info is fairly slick. Maya Personal Learning Edition contains a suggested order of lessons though you’re free to wing it if you wish (I strongly recommend following the path laid out by Alias|Wavefront). After you’ve worked through the entire disk you’ll be pleasantly surprised just how far you’ve come.

So, if you need this program you probably already know it. If that’s the case you won’t be disappointed. The material is solid and informative. If you’re just looking to mess around a bit your time is probably going to be better spent elsewhere.

MacMice Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Chris Seibold

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