I Learned Autodesk's Maya & Mudbox Programs! (Stan Winston School Diary #7)


Already familiar with 2D animation, I wanted to be familiar with other software and animation techniques.

Reason 1: People need to respect me as a filmmaker. Nobody will respect me unless I understand the work behind what they do.

Reason 2: Some Stan Winston School coursework requires having knowledge of Maya. I'd like to get that done in advance! Here, I have based a real spray bottle on my actual spray bottle with cleaning stuff inside, and a lamp from a real room at home. These are unpainted .obj files; you get to have fun doing the design later on in Mudbox! I've had a blast and cannot wait to do more with all kinds of filmmaking/FX software! Animating some 3D-ness into my 2D work would be super cool. using Blender or Maya. Stan Winston classes really do require you to learn so much, or freshen up your ideas of what programs are used for. For a class I wrote down I wanted to do this month of June, Adobe InDesign I once used for boring journalism class layouts takes on new meaning for storyboarding and illustration.

I am pretty grateful for the Stan Winston School pushing me to do things in order to learn. You have no idea how much I hated school when I was younger. School felt like where you go when you don’t want to learn because my brain shut off whenever someone gave me assignments; music and Spanish were about the two classes I loved. When I am doing things on my own time, and nobody is pressuring me, I have a will to learn. If you are currently a student somewhere, any age, having trouble being committed to school, what I recommend you do is have a list of things you want to do and why they are tied to achieving that. When I look at some of the stuff I have to learn or get good at, I remember, “I want to end up there (imagining Peter Jackson collecting his sweet award for Return of the King) and am here (my filmmaking career is the squashed carrot in my steamed veggies side dish at lunch). If I commit myself 100 percent, I will get 100 percent of my goals. I can get paid to do something I enjoy.”

Next step, I need to get realllllllly good at these two programs. So far, I have had fun painting and reshaping objects in that software.

The basic idea

In life, everything you see can be broken up into smaller shapes. A table is a stretched out square with four skinny rectangles for beams holding it up. Something round? A circle! An iPhone? Rectangle! Furniture? Ovals, squares, and maybe a cone here and there. You connect the shapes like kids playing puzzle blocks, glueing them together and maybe twisting a piece here and there. When you’re done, guess what? You have a finished real looking object! You are ready to export your object to Mudbox.

In Mudbox, you can reshape the object, paint it, and add realistic skins like creepy lizard scales built into the software.

Once you are done, you send your object back to Maya and animate it. To animate it, you place a skeleton inside the object with assorted connecting points. If you don’t want your object to move, like a lamp, you set it wherever you want in the 3D world.

And now, friends, that’s where the artistry and hard stuff begins. The rest is up to you. Decide how you want your world, and its objects and people, to look, move, act, and live. The rest of is the harder part you won’t achieve overnight.

Watch my samples!

These aren’t the only models I have made, OK, but they are all I will put in a video before I bore you to tears. Mudbox comes with a pre-installed gecko shape I had the most fun ever turning into a toxic waste dump lizard with unrealistic coloring then making him move in Maya. Lots of ‘tude from that guy acquired in the toxic waste.

Enjoy my video and the sleazy sounding royalty free early 90’s movie love scene music MacBooks come with.

“Are you a multi-billionaire filmmaker now? You have work streaming on–”

Uh, no. Give me a few years. ;)

A misconception seems to exist about me. People think I am collecting a sweet $150 million payday for each of my films and if not, will when my first feature hits the web/streaming. Could we be farther from the truth? For the record, I am not exactly making huge, or well, any money off anything I will be animating myself for at least the next year or so. Whatever I have exists as free movies on Amazon Prime, YouTube, Facebook, and who knows where else to…

  • get my name out there as a filmmaker, and few make serious money if any off their first shorts and features; studios don’t hire you without having visible work first demonstrating your ambition

  • show people I am serious about wanting to do this in a career change from only having extremely underpaid journalism gigs in my teens and 20’s and those years of being a young, lousy NYC agency model who hardly got cast in anything due to the casting couch

  • gather IMDb credits

  • animate and animate and animate and animate to my heart’s content to back up my credibility as a filmmaker who actually knows my stuff, using different styles so I am ready to lead a huge studio’s efforts someday with a live action film’s FX crew and/or team of animators

  • cast great SAG-AFTRA and non-union actors and actresses who want to expand their cliched resumes and offerings. NOTE: The acting talent I work with will often complain about how all of the roles being offered to them are overly sexualized. The fastest way to get in the running for animated and improved (read: non-exploiting) work for these men and women is getting work on indie animated projects like mine.