Oh, how I long for Blender (while on a Maya course)

I am a sold-out Blender user, but - due to certain circumstances - had to go on a Maya course. (NOTE: this thread is not a Blender-Maya comparison, nor trying to slate other software: I am just giving a few [objective?] impressions).

I’ve been on a near-full-time 3-month Maya course, so I suspect I can speak with some experience (maybe not as a boffin). I was really looking forward to the chance to at last find out what all the Maya disciples were on about… and was even afraid that I would lose my loyalty towards Blender.

Firstly, Maya’s GUI is so vast and illogical that you don’t know where to find what. Even the lecturers had trouble pointing me to some tools I needed. This vast GUI is it’s own downfall: it doesn’t allow you to do things simply and quickly. (Unless, of course, you personalise the GUI for yourself with a lot of hotkeys, etc. (meaning nobody else can use it like you). Of course, one gets this for free with Blender - and it is more logical/alphabetical.)

After getting over the initial mouse finger trouble, my experience was that modeling in Maya really sucks:

  • It takes so many keystrokes/movements to navigate between the various views

  • When you select single vertices and try to use the navigator/cube to change views, it sometimes refuses - which forces one to deselect everything before you can change views… but then you don’t know which vertices you had selected anymore…

  • All-in-all, modeling is REALLY slow in Maya - and a PAIN!I also experienced a few showstopper bugs(?) in Maya 2008:

  • Depending on whether I extruded FACES or EDGES, the resulting faces interpreted the SAME texture differently.

  • During skinning, we twice had problems with weight painting, where the paint would not “stick” when you move to a next bone (i.e. it reverted back to the previous weight).

  • After watching an official Maya training video where Maya crashed and the narrator commented “Maya just crashed”, this statement became a classic every time Maya crashed on one of the students (and I’m not talking complex scenes here). We started with Maya PLE - and it was the worst culprit - not a good showcase/intro to Maya!My personal impressions: I find Maya EXTREMELY cumbersome to use. I was hoping that this cost would come at great advantages, but I cannot help but wonder what all the fuss is that is being made about Maya??? Sure, maybe it has some fancy features which we did not cover, but why do the basics then have to suffer? I think I can do anything at least twice as fast in Blender.
    OH, give me Blender ANY DAY!!! I can’t wait to get Maya behind my back!

Fortunately, Blender is catching up very quickly with packages like Maya - at least as far as features go. I just hope the speed of Blender’s pipeline never suffers under that.

(BTW, the reason I had to learn Maya was that I want to set up an animation school and studio for an organisation, but - before I am allowed to do it - I am required to attend their internal “3D animation” (= Maya) course, which is run once a year. The intention is that I am going to be expanding it to a one-year course, with BLENDER becoming the core of the course, as well as for the studio.)

Blender has been a SERIOUS 3D animation for a while now. I keep on saying that Blender is an undiscovered diamond - I intend punting it and helping it get discovered in my small way - and I hope Project Peach and Plumiferos go a long way towards that too.

Sometimes we all have to go through the motions to get the desired effect. All in all it’s a good experience.

Yeah, I find blender hotkeys to be pretty ingenious. Once you know them really well (like automatically without looking) modeling is so fast you get people staring at you just because of the sheer speed that you’re extruding, rotating, scaling, grabbing etc. (not that most of them know anything about 3d:p)

But then maybe other apps get like that too, I don’t really know.

and on the topic of UI, I find Maya and Blenders UI’s to be equally confusing when you first start with them, but the difference that makes blender really fast once you know it is that everything is there. With other apps it seems to me that there are a lot of hidden things in sub-menus and whatnot, whereas with blender it’s all just laid out for you.

Yah, I know. The hotkeys enable speed modeling, and I have almost all of them memorized. They save you the trouble of going through all of the click-menus…

I have pretty much the same experience with Maya and it’s not because I looked at Maya having used Blender and found it to be different. I started on Maya and got frustrated with it that I looked elsewhere and within a week of using Blender, I was sold. The only thing that out me off was the 3D viewport as Maya uses turntable but when they added the feature, it was great.

Maya has advantages of course but I find it’s main advantage is that it has a core that can be built around with regards to plugins and things. If Blender was more like this and could allow people to develop say cloth plugins or 3D tracking plugins separately from Blender itself, the development speed would be even quicker and the feature support could easily rival Maya.

People might even develop commercial plugins. I know the open source community is kind of against that but if the tools do the job and you make money then I don’t see why the developers can’t be rewarded for that. Would you pay Jahka for a particles plugin? I think I would if it lets me produce good work.

It doesn’t have to be a lot either. There are probably way more people using Blender than using Maya so if everyone paid £1 for a particle plugin, the developer could make a decent income and dedicate more time to development.

Well, I am certainly glad I started my 3d-ing with Blender because there’s no restrictions for its usage. Now I’ve been using 3dsmax 8 in school for many of the projects / assignments, and once Maya 8.0 for character animation. They’re both good programs from my experience, but “somehow” Blender is best, even with it’s sometimes irritating lacks of features, but there’s usually a workaround for everything.

I think it’s a very good idea to start your 3d stuff with Blender, and also continue it with Blender. Even if I’d make something in 3dsmax, I’d model it Blender. I’ve mostly used 3dsmax 8 for animation and rendering. Modelling is something you can do in any app.
Sure it’s good to know how to model with different apps, but you don’t need to master it because you can use Blender anywhere, anytime, from a USB-stick. I know how to model with 3dsmax, but still I don’t use it because it is faster in Blender, unless you make all the hotkeys yourself to 3dsmax - and still Blender would be faster I bet.

So it’s wise to learn other programs, but remember to keep Blender at your side, because you can use it anywhere without restriction… and simply - because it is so great.