Why is Maya the industry standard?

i would like to be a full time CG artist, in the future. So I download Maya, as it is the industry standard, hoping to get some good software. However, I am faced with a terrible interface, clunky control schemes, terribly long render times and a really counter intuitive design for the whole program. I dont get it. It has crashed multiple times when i am doing nothing, takes alot of time to do anything, and the results are hard to get even close to blenders standards when using Arnold renderer. I would love to hear what people say, and also if it is possible to get a job using blender, Thanks


Be aware that Maya’s workflow paradigm is a bit different from Blender (it’s not unusual for a program to feel a bit awkward if you’re coming from another one that’s as different as Blender).

The reason why Maya is considered the industry standard

  • It got there first (so it’s very entrenched in studio pipelines and is very hard to dislodge)
  • It has an excellent plugin interface for studios to hook their proprietary technology to (some studios replace a lot of the tools it comes with out of the box, especially the render engine)
  • Maya comes with paid customer support from Autodesk reps (this is a big deal for most production houses).
  • It follows standard control and workflow conventions (ie. left-click selection).
  • It has, for a long time, been the best piece of software that 3D has had to offer (and because of this reason and the reasons above, people will put up with the occasional bad release and just stick with the last good one).

That’s not to say Blender is just bad in comparison these days (Blender is getting closer to the industry leaders, especially when you note what 2.8 will be bringing and especially when you note the story of one studio actually ditching Maya as a result), but because of Blender’s different way of working and non-standard approaches, Maya will remain the industry leader and none of Blender’s advances will change that (unless the BF gives into the idea of making Blender look and feel like a Maya clone, but there’s no chance of that happening other than maybe a more standard control system).

1 Like

I love to use blender, so switching to maya is a bad deal for me. I was expecting so much more, but what i got was the identical program, with a slower workflow. eg. if you are making a wooden floor, then you cant just plug in a texture and press “u” to unwrap it. you have to go through a series of complex menus, open the UV editor, unwrap from there and then change the Material settings. Which is another thing great about blender, it has the node editor, I think the best material editor. It is so much harder to “see” the material using slider options.

Also the render times. Scince Arnold is CPU based, It is slow as hell. And this is “industry standard” rendering software. They are only now making a GPU supported version. S to render this simple scene:

it took over 5 mins.
Now in blender The same scene:

took less than 2 mins. and is far less noisy
Also, when you render in maya, It gives a terible colour correction, so i had to re-edit the image, which is why it looks better than the blender one. Also when you use HDRI maps, They are extremely Low Res when they are rendered. and you have to create anther shader and the image texture to actually see the HDRI. IMO Maya is just too clunky and slow.

EDIT: (I couldnt get the Fresnel effect the same in Maya as they have a weird option that does not use real world units)

1 Like

I experienced the exact same thing with Blender. Terrible interface and clunky control schemes. I love blenders stability though cause Maya does crash alot. Hoping to use both eventually.

I see the “why is this the industry standard” question alot but I get the feeling you already know why because its obvious. It also seems like you jumped in Maya expecting the worst and nitpitcking what you can because you obviously prefer blender.

Regardless industry standards arent the best at everything but theyre usually really good at what they do. Thus industry standard. You could say theyre the standard because they were there first or whatever. It doesnt matter.

The industry goes for quick efficiency. If it can get the job done quick, then it will remain king. Look at what happened to substance painter. Thats a relative newcomer that dominated because its quick, efficient, and just kicks ass all around. The industry jumped on it like a rabbit in heat. Maya is versatile, sleeker, and does things differently (sometimes better) than what blender can do. Its just how things are.


Arnold isn’t built for simple scenes, it’s built for complex production scenes. It’s for asset sizes that not only far exceed what today’s GPUs feature in VRAM but even for what most machines have as overall system RAM.

I made some remarks on this here:

What makes big companies to adopt a software is not the same decisions as us simple users. At one person level (or small teams) , or small scale projects, Blender can be way more efficient and easier to use compared to Maya. But in complex pipelines with many peoples , companies and different softwares involved, blender is still below than what maya can do. That’s why it’s the software mainly used for big projects. This is not related to interface or ease of use.

If you plan to work on big movies you may want to stick to maya for now. That’s true at least now, but who knows how things will evolve.
If you prefer to work in small teams or as a lone freelancer, blender may be the perfect match for you.
When I started using blender (~12 years ago) everybody tells me that was a bad idea, but I always managed to find a way to earn a living with it. So even if 90% of the industry is using other software, there is still a place for you in the remaining 10% . You just need to know first want kind of projects you want to work on and what kind of CG artist you want to be.

Maya remains an industry standard because Maya is an industry standard. How did it get to be one? First mover advantage. If you used an SGI box back in the day, you used the precursors to Maya. I don’t think many people actually like Maya, they tolerate it, because they’re invested in it. There’s a a bunch of technical arguments as well, but those are secondary.

Alot of them used XSI softimage in those days. But XSI needed a core rewrite which took a while and Maya came along. ILM switched to Maya when doing the last Star Wars prequel. Maya pulled ahead of XSI.
Since then Maya IS the animation tool in the industry and heavenly entrenched in that position.
And of course it is that because of its technical abilities.

Investment is not the deciding factor, its the functionality of the program.

it’s simple
Maya - full tool set (relatively*)
Blender - minimal tool set

That’s why it’s an industry standard, it’s not like Blender that has expanded its horizons over time.
And this was Blender at the beginning.

I was a Maya user, now I’m a blender user since version 2.5 and I honestly do not understand why Maya is a standard. There are many stupid people who criticize the blender without knowing it and just because it is free and they think it is worse. There are many ignorant people. In addition, the people of proprietary software love to mess with the blender and do not even know their good qualities, it is unfortunate. I totally agree with you. The only advantage of using Arnold render, is the flexibility and great amount of composition passes you offer. People use Maya because it is used in the industry and it is not considered to use a tool because it is better or worse, simply because it is used in the industry and they are men who do what the herd does, without trying other alternatives, nor having Own criterion.

I also found these old videos of Blender

Now Blender is cutting off its slice of market, which exponentially increases in recent years and with Cycles.

1 Like

Yeah those old demo reels hahaha amazing how we moved forward.
I trained on Maya before Blender was usable - that was when Blender was still part of NaN and such.

Maya is not an application - that is the wrong way to look at it - it is a platform you can adjust to you needs
and that means adjusting the interface, writing tools for it and such.
Obvious also the amount of add-ons/plug-ins like with Max make it so good.
But there is also Houdini as a 3rd app. XSI is dead and C4D and Lightwave never got the same exposuse as Maya.

Maya has for me as a designer actually one of the best modeling tool sets poly sub-d nurbs.

I agree with some statements and views about the term “industry standard”. Only because it is a IS does not mean it is perfect.
Anyone here that loves Word the IS for text processing - hahah ?

But honestly Maya was there first and evolved well and because it is used in studios they have an invested interest in maintaining
their pipeline working well.

Main reason why I do not use Maya anymore and do not teach it is simply because Blender is sufficient for my needs
and I can teach it for free to my students who can use it for free once they graduate.

But also other designers and smaller studios who do not need everything Maya has use Blender or other apps such as Modo.

It really comes down to

A) what do you need for personal - small studio - client work
B) what does the company you want to work in offer

In the end however you can learn modeling in Blender also animation and such or use Houdini.
The learned skills can be transferred to other apps over time. The tools in general are the same - the UI is different.

Students don’t often believe or like this because it requires not to learn a software but the concepts of 3D design in general.
It just took me a video to understand how Houdini modeling nodes work and then I was ready to create models.

I think if you want to work in the CG industry try to also offer software diversity.

However what will count the most is really how good your artwork is - that is key!

Nickelodeon as Pixar they train their people when they come from different software platforms.

Actually it was Softimage | 3D. XSI came along when Microsoft had bought Softimage to prove that the NT platform and pcs were as good for making 3D content as Irix and SGI. They essentially forced the Softimage team to take time to port not only Softimage | 3D to NT but to also start creating a windows only variant (till this day XSI uses a wine like layer on Linux). That put them behind quite a bit and by the time XSI was released it had to be bundled with 3D because it seriously lacked features on release. Maya was on version 2 or 3 by then and had all benefits of wavefront and Alias. Along with things like full script ability and an API for plugin developers. That’s why at the time Max had a huge following the game industry and a huge 3rd party following, its SDK is free or comes with the application. Before that most 3D apps charged extra for plugin support. Maya adopted the same thing.

XSI by comparison had an SDK but they didn’t allow renderes other than Mental Ray for quite some time nor did it allow the same low level access as Max or Maya. For houses like ILM who relied/relies heavily on Renderman changing their whole pipeline was a deal breaker. Softimage | 3D on the other hand had good integration with 3rd party renderers.

Either way XSI could of should of been the standard as Softimage was quickly becoming the strandard because of its integrated nature (a lot tools were separate and standalone at the time). However, for SGI, having one of their biggest pieces of software getting snapped up by Microsoft wasn’t a good look. So they bought the two other biggest names Alias for modeling and animation and wavefront for dynamics and merged the two. The newly merged team took a version of Alias that had been released for the mac, reworked it, and Maya was born.

When Maya came out it was practically revolutionary. Everyone can look at the application now and scoff at its bloat but before Maya there was nothing like it at the level. Like I said it would be several years before XSI was ready and it was bit of a disaster until about version 4. Houdini was very powerful at the time but it’s workflow pretty much just kept it relevant in the field of FX and dynamics. Modeling was very weak in Houdini until version 7 or so. There was no automatic ops node creating when modeling like there is now. On top of that SGI made the smart decision of allowing Maya on the Windows platform which had already started to encroach on the workstation market. A lot former SGI employees had started graphics acceleration houses that allowed Windows to essentially have the same power as SGIs workstation. SGI had also converted most of their IrisGl graphics lib to make OpenGL.

There was as lot leading up to what made Maya, but all I can say is that once it came out it essentially bitch slapped the whole industry.

1 Like

Also working with Maya on a SGI machine was magic. Can’t believe it’s been 17 years since I started with 3D. I still suck though.

Mind telling us what’s “minimal” about it? Specifics?

It’s exactly opposite in fact. Maya is great software for rigging and animation but lacks in other aspect. Poor modeling tools, super weak sculpting tools, no real texturing tools, mediocre simulations (still better than in blender though), no built in compositing, no video editing. Maya is great in aspects it was made for, animation, but nothing more. If you work in maya you need few other programs (like After Effects or Nuke) and bunch of commercial plugins to do anything reasonable.

That is because its a 3d program not a compositor, video-editor, sculpting program or texture program.
There is a reason for that, its called specialization.
In the industry, these are not only different disciplines, they are done by completely different persons and departments.
You now the saying: Jack of all trades, Master of none?
Well, Blender is the Jack of all trades.
Maya is the Master of animation.
If you take a serious look at all of the different professional 3d industries you’ll find Blender nowhere as a tool which does at least one thing exceptionally well and better than the others…

Z-brush, Max, Maya, Houdini, C4d, Mari, Nuke all have at least one discipline in which they surpass all others.

And last: you are completely wrong in regards to Maya’s amount of functionality.

Moderation: Fair warning… let’s not have this thread descend into “versus” territory.