Building a Scene in Maya
For this assignment you will create a simple scene using 3D computer graphics (CG); the assignment that follows will be to light a CG object. In both of these assignments you will be using Autodesk Maya, a popular software application used in computer animation. You can download a trial version of Maya from the Autodesk website. If you have other access to Maya, such as in a campus computer lab, then you may use that for these assignments. Any version of Maya may be used for this assignment, you don't need the most recent one.
Optional: If you prefer, instead of using Maya you may use Blender for this assignment. Note that the TA and myself are more familiar with Maya.
The scene that you will create in this assignment consists of a floor, a single wall in the background, and some objects in the foreground. Those objects need to be arranged so that they create the shape of the initials of your name (for myself that would be an "A" and a "G"). Position the two letters so that they rest on the floor or on each other; do not have them touching the vertical wall. Do not include anything else in the scene; keep it clean so that the two letters are distinctly seen without any other distracting elements. Most of your grade will be based on correctly following these instructions however extra points will be awarded to creatively constructed letters and interesting compositions within the scene.
After downloading and installing Maya, watch the tutorials on how to perform basic tasks. Build your scene using polygon objects ("Polygons" tab) and/or NURBS surfaces ("Surfaces" tab). When the scene is complete, select the "Rendering" tab and press the "Render Current Scene" button. Once the scene looks like you'd like, in the Render View window save it as a JPEG file and upload it to your blog in an entry called "Building a Scene in Maya." Note that you will also be using Maya in the next assignment so don't uninstall it until the end of the semester.
Finally, some advice: Maya is a powerful application that requires significant system resources. It's a large download and it can be temperamental (i.e., it may crash or lock-up). Nevertheless, it's the industry standard in CG animation, which is why we are using it. Just be sure to save your work often and allow enough time to complete this assignment, especially if you're new to Maya.
Here are some good examples from previous semesters:
30 points (if late, 15 points)
Have a question? Go here.
[Bonus Points: Lighting your Scene]
Open the scene containing a floor, wall, and two letters (which should be your initials) in Maya. You will be adding lights to your scene so if you're not already familiar with Maya then read or watch tutorials on how to insert lights. It's not much more complicated than inserting and positioning simple shapes.
Start by lighting your scene with one-point lighting. Place an intense spot light, area light, or directional light on the left side to create strong shadows. In Maya shadows can be turned on or off; be sure that your key light is casting the shadows you want for the composition of your image. Adjust the position of the light, the camera, and any adjustable parameters until you're satisfied with the result. Render the image and save it as a JPEG file.
Second, light your scene in two-point lighting by adding fill lighting. Do this by inserting another spot light or an ambient light on the right side of the scene. Again, play around with the lights, especially the intensity, and the camera position until you're satisfied with the rendered image and then save this second image.
Finally, create three-point lighting by adding rim lighting. Do this by inserting another spot light or a directional light behind your letters; the bright edge created by this rim light helps separate the core shadow of the letters from the dark background. When the scene is to your satisfaction, save the rendered image to a third JPEG file.
In all three cases, if you find that your scene looks better with additional lights or different types of lights, feel free to add them. In other words, one-point lighting doesn't necessarily have to have only one light source; one-point lighting is a style, not a recipe. For a tutorial that describes the process of three-point lighting in a bit more detail, go here.
For some info on using lights in Maya, see these lecture slides by Prof. Coelho. And here are some Maya lighting tutorials that you may find helpful:
http://youtu.be/baIsLZcWK80 (Links to an external site.)
http://youtu.be/fyRkDYDBzls (Links to an external site.)
Upload the three images of one, two, and three-point lighting to your blog in an entry called "Bonus Points: Lighting a Scene in Maya". If you do this extra part of the assignment then submit the URL for this blog entry instead of the one for the regular assignment blog entry. Please create both the non-lighted and the lighted entries so that I can compare how they look.
Below are some examples from recent semesters. Note that in some earlier semesters this was a separate assignment rather than bonus points.
20 bonus points (no points if late)
Have a question? Go here.