Maya Software - Part 4 - Maya Unlimited and Scripting

Maya Unlimited
Maya Unlimited version comes with a set of tools not available in the Maya complete version.

Maya Fluid Effects
A realistic fluid simulator (effective for smoke, fire, clouds and explosions, added in Maya 4.5)

Maya Classic Cloth
Cloth simulation to automatically simulate clothing and fabrics moving realistically over an animated character. The Maya Cloth toolset has been upgraded in every version of Maya released after Spider-Man 2. Alias worked with Sony Pictures Imageworks to get Maya Cloth up to scratch for that production, and all those changes have been implemented, although the big studios opted to use third party plugins such as Syflex instead of the (relatively) cumbersome Maya Cloth.

Maya Fur
Animal fur simulation similar to Maya Hair. It can be used to simulate other fur-like objects, such as grass.

Maya Hair
A simulator for realistic-looking human hair implemented using curves and PaintEffects. These are also known as dynamic curves.

Maya Live
A set of motion tracking tools for CG matching to clean plate footage.

Maya nCloth
Added in version 8.5, nCloth is the first implementation of Maya Nucleus, Autodesk's simulation framework. nCloth gives the artist further control of cloth and material simulations.

Scripting and Plugins

In Maya, anything can be connected to anything. E.g. a color intensity of a shader can be used to control the movement of a door opening and closing. To control the node based system of Maya, fully reconfigurable user interface can be scripted with MEL script code which can be dropped onto a shelf to create a new icon that executes that code.

With the release of Maya 8.5 support for the Python scripting language has been included. The current implementation of Python in maya is not fully object oriented though.

Mel scripting

Mel stands for Maya Embedded language and it's a script language similar to C embedded in Maya. Code written in Mel can be executed from the script editor, from the shelves and from drop down menus.

Mel lets the user have more access and more control than the User Interface; some functions of the software and advanced options are only available by using Mel. All maya preferences are maya code so are the drop down menus. This means that it is always possible, with a little digging, to retrieve the mel commands and mel functions that maya calls when you click a specific button of the UI.

Mel is not object oriented, this means it is not possible create classes and methods or functions associated to it as you would in C++ or Python. This however shouldn't be seen as a mere limitation because gives Mel a strong structure making it accessible and easier to understand to Maya users and to first time programmers. Also the linear scripting nature of the language would assist the user in making the most of the maya nodes instead of tempting him/her to make its own objects, as in case of object oriented languages.

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