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5 Reasons Why 3D Animators Should Know Autodesk Maya

by | Feb 18, 2019

Our students love seeing 3D animated films like Toy Story, How to Train Your Dragon, Frozen, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse on the big screen. But it’s hard to look past the “movie magic,” and people often struggle to understand HOW to bring animated characters to life.

That’s why we’re here! At Animation Mentor, our sole purpose is to help you take your love of animation and turn it into the artistic and technical skills needed to create exciting and believable 3D animation. And In order to do that you need to understand Maya.

Don’t believe us? Here are 5 reasons we think all 3D animators should know Maya.

1. Autodesk’s Maya is simply one of the best, most robust, and most versatile software available.

Maya was first released back in 1998 by Alias|Wavefront, and acquired by Autodesk in early 2006. Since 2006, Autodesk’s team of engineers have been improving and adding to the software! Watch this video to see some of this year’s awesome new features:

Maya is used by 3D animators across the globe and is built for feature film production. It’s used on all-CG films like Sony Pictures Animation’s Oscar-winning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and live-action integrated films like Avengers: Infinity War.

2. Maya is used by top feature film animation studios like Blue Sky Studios, Framestore, Moving Picture Company, and Industrial Light & Magic.

Many of your favorite studios use Maya as a critical piece of their production pipeline, from rigging and modeling, all the way through to character animation.

Framestore and Moving Picture Company collaborated on two key characters for the blockbuster hit Guardians of the Galaxysee how Framestore approached Guardians’ Rocket Raccoon. The Marvel team also brought several studios together to nail down the animation and special effects for Avengers: Infinity War. Check out their creation process for Thanos, the main villain, below.

The creation of Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War

And who could forget Pacific Rim or Transformers? Industrial Light & Magic, the studio behind classic films like Star Wars and Jurassic Park, also relies on Maya for much of its animation.

A nice breakdown of the Kaiju creature creation from Industrial Light & Magic

3. Academy-award-winning films use Maya.

Behind-the-scenes for Disney’s Frozen. Watch a quick animation of Olaf in Maya at the 1:30 mark!

Over the last decade, Maya has played a role in countless Best Animated Features like Disney’s nominee Wreck It Ralph (2013) and their Oscar-winner Frozen (2014). Sony Pictures Animation also relied on Maya for their mega-blockbuster hit and Oscar-winner Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2019).

Behind-the-scenes of the unique animation for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Maya was also used to produce the past two decade’s worth of winners of Best Visual Effects at the Academy Awards, on films like The Hobbit and Snow White and the Huntsman. Read more in Forbes’ awesome article on the subject.

In our opinion … that’s pretty badass.

4. Knowing this industry-leading software will make you more competitive in your animation job search.

A quick Google search for jobs in the animation industry will show you just how many studios look for experience in Maya, which is in the United States and internationally. Having this skill will make you stand out from the crowd when you are looking for jobs.

See how Industrial Light & Magic Brought dinosaurs to life in Jurassic World

And it isn’t just used for feature films—Maya is used to create games and TV Shows, like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead and Boardwalk Empire.

5. Learning a robust software like Maya will help make the transition to other proprietary software easier.

But what if you can’t find a job at a studio that uses Maya? Fear not! At Animation Mentor, we know that learning the right software is a major concern for students. However, when you learn a complex software like Maya, you are building the skill of learning how to use a new type of tool. In this case, you’re learning how to use 3D animation software. Once you are able to use one software package, it’s not hard to learn how to use another similar package. Think of Maya as your 3D pencil—once you know the principles of animation and how to bring a character to life, the particular software package you use won’t matter as much anymore.

That way when you land your dream job at DreamWorks, you will have no problem picking up their proprietary software Premo, used on 2019’s hit film How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. Read more about the importance of innovative technology in animation from “Hidden World” Director Dean DeBlois.

Cool! Now what?

Now that you’ve seen how awesome Maya is, it’s time to take your love of animation and turn it into skills you can list on your resume:

Check out this awesome squirrel house by Maya student Dani Shahfeh

Do you dream of becoming an animator?

Your animation journey starts with learning the tools of the trade! Learn how to use Maya so you’re ready to start Character Animation Courses with pro animators working at major studios. Get more information today about Animation Mentor and our Maya Workshop for beginners.

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