Maya Embedded Language, or simply MEL for short, is a scripting language used in conjunction with the Autodesk Maya software to help simplify tasks related to 3D graphics. Both the language and the 3D software are used by programmers across the globe, and were created in conjunction to model 3D images on a grid format. While MEL may not have the same object orientation and associative array capabilities, it still remains a functional language that can be used for a variety of tasks. With this, Autodesk Maya can be extremely useful for anyone interested in creating fully integrated and interactive 3D models, graphs, and more. For those interested in diving into this software and embedded language, here are a few basic functions that will get you started and on your way to creating all on your own.
Understand the Interface
When first opening Autodesk Maya, you will be greeted by the workspace in the center of the screen, as well as the shelf above it and to the sides. The workspace is where your product will be displayed upon completion, and the shelf houses the tools needed to manipulate the objects. To get better understanding of the program, try a hands-on beginner’s course to learn more.
Like other 3D graphic applications, Autodesk Maya displays everything on a 3-dimensional plane corresponding to an X, Y, and Z-axis. These axes can be rotated to observe a full view of the shapes.
Create an Object
Of course, as a programmer or designer working with Autodesk Maya, you will need to quickly become comfortable with creating and manipulating a variety of different objects on a 3-dimensional plane.
To begin, it is easiest to create a simple object at first, progressing slowly until you master this skill. To create a basic 3D object, select the Create tab, then the Polygon Primitives tab, and finally the Cube option. Once you select this option, Autodesk Maya will place a basic cube at the center of your 3-Dimensional plane. This cube then can be modified in a variety of different ways with the tools present on the side and top of the screen. You can resize the object, shade it, color certain facets, and even deform it to match the shape that you would like.
Of course, you won’t always want to create a cube when you are making a design, and with Autodesk Maya, you can start with any shape you would like. Simply go back to the Create tab, then the Polygon Primitives tab, and finally select Cylinder, Cube, or any other shape you would like. When you create your final object, you can modify specific settings by selecting the Edit tab, then Reset Settings: this will give you the ability to change the radius, height, axis divisions, height divisions, and cap divisions.
Once you get a handle of this, you can create and alter any type of object you would like. For a refresher on the how to create and manipulate different types of objects, try a course on quadrilateral modeling or system modeling to further your skills.
Animate Your Scene
Once you have a variety of different objects present on your 3-dimensional axis, it is time to get them moving by utilizing Autodesk Maya’s 3D animation capabilities. First, in the Menu Selector location, make sure that you have switched from Polygon to Animation – this will allow you to create fully animated scenes. You can also change the animation settings by heading to Window, then Setting/Preferences, then Preferences – here you can alter the Playback Speed to fit your needs.
To set an animation, you will need to designate starting and ending keyframes for the object in question. Make sure a simple object is present, such as a cube or a sphere. Then, click the Go To Start option to make sure the playback returns to the first frame. Once you have done this, click on the object to select it, and select Animate and Set Key – this sets this position of the object as the first key in the animation. If you look at the time slider in this moment, you will notice a red tick has appeared – these red markers indicate where keys have been set for the animation process.
After you have set the first key, click on another frame further down the time slider – for convenience, head to slide number 60. Using the Move Tool, select the object once again, and drag it to another location on your 3-dimensional plane – you can have it move along any of the three axes, or all three if you would like. Once the object is in place, select Set Key again, and you will have set your second location in the animation process.
Finally, click on the time slider to select the first location in the animation, and play the animation. Depending on the animation speed selected, the object should travel from one point to another at a certain rate. This is only the beginning of animation – to learn more try an easy course on basic 3D animation.
Like any other programming language, MEL, the language within Autodesk Maya, requires the coder enter individual lines into the command line. To find this in MEL, first select Display, then UI Elements, then Command Line – this succession of commands will display the command line, and give you a location to begin your scripting.
Also, like with all other programming languages, MEL has a type of syntax and jargon that must be used in order to produce a finished product. If you are interested in using the script language to enhance your design abilities, Autodesk Maya offers a variety of easy tutorials to teach you the basics.
Start Creating a World of Your Own
Once you have learned the basics of Autodesk Maya and MEL, you can begin to manipulate and animate whatever you would like. And as you continue work in this field, you can rely on this software to create models on 3-dimensional planes containing absolutely anything you want.