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Maya Character creation: modeling and animation control Paperback – 11 Sep 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 349 pages
  • Publisher: New Riders; 01 edition (11 Sept. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0735713448
  • ISBN-13: 978-0735713444
  • Product Dimensions: 20.2 x 2 x 25.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,267,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From the Back Cover

A unique, in-depth approach to creating realistic characters in Maya. Maya Character Creation: Modeling and Animation Controls' author, Chris Maraffi, has expertise in the field and in the classroom that translates to the knowledge and solid teaching skills needed to make this book a "must-have"!

The current trend in computer graphics is greater organic realism. Many of the top-grossing movies today, such as Spiderman, Lord of the Rings, Jurassic Park 3 , and Star Wars Episode 2, all feature realistic 3D characters. There is a major need in the 3D community for educational material that demonstrates detailed techniques for achieving this organic reality. Maya is one of the main packages used on such cutting-edge films, and has an established toolset for creating believable 3D characters. Maya Character Creation: Modeling and Animation Controls is designed to take you through the process of designing, modeling, and setting up animation controls for complex 3D characters. The concepts, techniques, and Maya tools used for each step in the process are presented in each chapter, followed by many hands-on exercises. NURBS, polygon, and subdivision surface modeling techniques are shown for creating the character's skin, and skeleton-based animation controls are covered in detail. You will learn how a character's skin should deform when the skeletal joints and muscles move. Advanced MEL scripted animation controls are also covered extensively.

About the Author

Chris Maraffi is currently Course Director of character modeling and character setup classes at Full Sail Real World Education in Orlando. He was a presenter, with other Full Sail faculty, of the Maya Tips and Tricks master class at SIGGRAPH 2001 for Alias Wavefront. In addition, he has taught advanced 3D classes at NYU Parsons School of Visual Arts, and NYIT in New York City. Also in the San Francisco Bay area, he taught at the Academy of Art, Mesmer Animation Labs, and The Master's Institute. He is the author of SoftImage XSI Character Animation FX and Design published by Coriolis. Other publications include numerous online and magazine 3D tutorials and articles.

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Used a lot of Maya books, didn't like this one, information is patchy and hard to follow found "Mastering auto desk maya 2012" and "learning autodesk maya 2010 had the same info in it, far more coherently. Im guessing its just an old book, but theres better books out there that cover rigging and muscles etc, that wont leave you frustrated.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x8ae6bd44) out of 5 stars 14 reviews
49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ad567a4) out of 5 stars Maya Character Creation 17 Oct. 2003
By Yap Lee Choong - Published on
Format: Paperback
First impressions. A quick glance through the book reveals that this book is for beginning to intermediate Maya users. It includes all one needs to know about character modeling and preparing the model for animation from modeling to skeleton setup to skinning to scripting. Actual character animation itself is not covered in this book.
The book is illustrated with many sketches and screenshots but the illustrations are not in color which makes some of the screenshots hard to see especially the ones with wireframe models.
As the book concentrates on character setup, the examples and tutorials in the book involve creating and working with fairly realistic characters that have muscle and bone structure. If you are only interested in creating highly stylized or simple characters for use in your animation then you won't find much that is useful in this book. If you want to create the next Gollum then read on.
The book starts off with some information on the evolution of digital characters in film. This is followed by an introduction on the basics of character modeling.
The next chapter is on modeling the skin of a biped character and this happens to be the biggest chapter in this book. It begins with an introduction on different modeling methods for modeling a head, usually the most difficult part to model. Here and in the rest of the book as well, the author explains carefully on the pros and cons of each method and possible associated pitfalls that might be encountered when the model is used in an animation later on. Most books on modeling do not take into consideration the problems that might arise later on when animating the model and character animation books usually concentrate on the animation aspects. The author of this book does a commendable job of getting both these bases covered.
This is followed by modeling of the torso and limbs. Later on, the multipatch character is converted into a polygon skin to simplify the process of adding details to the model. Last but not least this chapter covers skin texturing including the use of UV polygons.
There are exercises intersped within the chapters after every few section which covers in detail with step by step instructions on how to perform the lessons covered in the previous sections. Although the steps are explained carefully it would have been better if more accompanying screenshots had been included to guide the reader. As it is, great care has to be taken to read the text carefully as there is no graphical reference to compare if the steps have been followed correctly.
Chapter 3 is on character skeleton setup. This brings back memories of my biology classes as the author covers the importance of having a good understanding of the skeletal anatomy of the human body. Both Forward Kinematics (FK) and Inverse Kinematics (IK) are explained as is when each method is to be used. Pointers to naming convention is included.
All of the above is then employed to create a basic character rig. Controls are added to the rig using the Connection Editor, the Expression Editor or the set driven keys to simplify animation with samples and exercises for each method. Each method is covered in detail in this chapter.
Chapter 4 covers skin deformation with a process known as skin binding with focus on the smooth skin binding method. Muscle flexing using both muscle skeleton and influence objects are covered. For additional realism, methods on deforming the skin with bones, wrinkles and fat are given attention as well.
Face animation is up next. Because it's the most expressive part of the body, special attention has to be given to the animation controls in this area. Techniques such as morph targets and using influences to mimic facial muscles are included as well.
The next chapter is on scripting controls using Maya Embedded Language, something that most Maya users including myself, find daunting. Only the basics are covered with a little information on what advanced scripting can do. Although this chapter only scratches the surface on MEL, it serves it's purpose of whetting the reader's appetite for more information.
The book ends with some guidelines on finishing touches like cleaning up and optimizing the character controls. Some animation methods are also covered and lastly, readers learn how to simplify and streamline animation by using multiple rigs of varying complexity.
Overall, the book is informative and would be a valuable asset to it's targeted audience, beginning to intermediate level Maya users who want to learn about character modeling and setting up the models for animation. The exercises are detailed enough but illustrations and the use of colors are a bit lacking.
The author's style of writing is easy to comprehend and I liked the way how each chapter is nicely summarized at the beginning of each chapter with an indication of what the reader can hope to accomplish at the conclusion of the chapter.
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ad567f8) out of 5 stars Destined to be the most read Maya book on my shelf 14 Oct. 2003
By G. Martinez - Published on
Format: Paperback
I'm beyond the intermediate rigging level and I wanted to do some detailed facial and body expressions. I used to wonder how the Hulk was rigged--not anymore. I used to wonder how to create those cool control panels for animating without scrolling through a character node for hours. Although it's a different approach than Bay Raitt used with Gollum in LOTR, it's pretty damn useful. I learned everything in the Gnomon Video tapes and still ran into a brick wall when it came to advanced animation controls for characters.
I used to wonder how to get the best subtle animations for a face. I used to wonder how to rig a jiggle deformer element with springs and softbodies.
This book has it all. I plan on memorizing it. You have to know this stuff now to get a job being a creature developer. There's no way around it. Anatomical deformation and servicing the animators on a team with MEL-scripting knowledge. This book will catapult you into a different realm of rigging. Serious Maya character set-up artists need it. I even learned how to use some of the new Maya 5 NURBS tools and slider tools that no one ever seems to mention.
another great book for this is "Emotions Revealed" by Paul Ekman to study facial expressions and how to create them... ....
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8b2ed900) out of 5 stars Fearful At First 8 Dec. 2003
By Jauhn Dabz - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is my first time to order online, but the scarcity of books related to Maya here in Manila prompted me to take matters into my own hands. Hehe.
Anyway, when I first opened the package, which arrived in an impressive 6-day wait, (wow! Amazon rules!) I eagerly browsed the contents and was not the least bit disappointed. This book helpfully deals with the one area (among many others) I am having most difficulty with, rigging Characters effectively using MEL. I've learned things could be done differently apart from traditional methods regarding drawing of skeletons and grouping them to maximize your rig's functionality and naturalize your character's movement.. and that's just from 10 pages. I've yet to go through the MEL side of creating my own custom control windows, but it's great. Really great.
Though the book is for intermediate to advance users, because of the lengthy reading and lack of illustrations, the author still manages to get the idea across and is easy to understand. If you're having the same difficulty, this book will make surely help you. Can't wait to stick each page into my head.
Ten toes Up!
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ad56a80) out of 5 stars It's okay. 10 Oct. 2005
By Tonya Payne - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
We're using this book for my advanced rigging class at the Savannah College of Art and Design. That said, I think it is most certainly not a book for someone who has no experience in 3d.

I skimmed the modeling section, and the instructions are for a character modeled in NURBS. NURBS are certainly not what I would suggest modeling in if you're a beginner. If you've never modeled anything before, I would suggest finding a book that teaches you how to model with polygons first, which I consider much easier to begin with.

As for the rigging section, I will reiterate that you should probably have some idea of how to rig before attempting this. It has some really good MEL expressions for controlling the rig. The drawback is that there are some errors in the book that my professor has pointed out and given us solutions for. This could be a problem if you are trying to teach yourself, as your rig may function strangely or not at all if you don't already understand the basics of rigging. I know some examples of where there are severe problems with the rig presented and that was with the stretchy spine and the breathing expression (which you annoyingly can't turn off).

I probably wouldn't have bought the book if it hadn't been a requirement for the class. The instructions and notes that our professor gives us are more helpful than any book and no book can replace actual instruction from another human being.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ad56a20) out of 5 stars Excellent for Rigging, but not for modeling. 17 Sept. 2004
By Jeremy - Published on
Format: Paperback
Yes, this book is an excellent one if you would like to create an advanced rig, but the earlier modeling chapters don't teach good modeling skills (just look at the student models he put in, only a few are good. I'd be embarrassed to put put the other ones in a book.) That said, the book is excellent for learning how to create a rig and intuitive controls for the animation. The cover price of $45 is probably worth the detailed rigging section, but since the rest is a waste, it's really not a fabulous deal.
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