MEL Scripting for Maya Animators

2nd Edition

Authors: Mark Wilkins Chris Kazmier
Paperback ISBN: 9780120887934
eBook ISBN: 9780080470719
Imprint: Morgan Kaufmann
Published Date: 25th July 2005
Page Count: 552
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41.99 + applicable tax
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Table of Contents

Preface Special Acknowledgment

Chapter 1 Maya Under the Hood In this chapter you will learn Why Look Under the Hood? The Dependency Graph, Attributes, and Connections Example 1: Using the Hypergraph to Explore the Dependency Graph Transform Hierarchy and Parent/Child Relationships Examining the Hierarchy Transform and Shape Nodes Example 2: Exploring Transform and Shape Nodes, Instancing, and History MEL and Maya’s User Interface What to Remember About How Maya Works Behind the Scenes

Chapter 2 The Basics of MEL Commands In this chapter you will learn Can I Use MEL Without Scripting? Command Line and Command Feedback Line Command Shell Script Editor Script Editor Versus Command Shell Script Editor’s Messages as MEL Code Making a Shelf Button for a MEL Script Saving a MEL Script Seductive Dangers of the Status Message Area The whatIs Command Basic Structure of MEL Commands Where to Find Information About Maya and MEL on the Internet Newsgroups How to Use MEL Scripts Found on the Internet What to Remember About How to Use MEL Without Writing Scripts

Chapter 3 Using Expressions In this chapter you will learn What Is an Expression? How Does an Expression Work? Equals Sign: Equality and Assignment How Maya Implements Expressions Is Maya’s Expression Language the Same as MEL? When (and When Not) to Use an Expression Defining Relationships Between Attributes What Is Operator Precedence? Walkthrough of Maya’s Expre


Trying to learn Maya programming from the documentation can be daunting whether or not you are a programmer. The first edition of MEL Scripting for Maya Animators earned the reputation as the best introductory book on MEL, Maya’s scripting language. Now fully revised and updated, the second edition also includes new features, such as a discussion of global procedures, new chapters on fixing programming bottlenecks, advanced user interface techniques, and optimizing character rigs. New chapters on utility nodes and Maya's Web Panel feature provide new ideas on how to use MEL in applications.

This new edition has kept the popular style of the first edition that offered very clear explanations of programming concepts to those without programming experience. A generous collection of code examples and Maya scene files is included on the companion Web site. This is a book for animators, artists, game developers, visual effects developers, and technical directors who want to learn the fundamentals of Maya, how to automate tasks, personalize user interfaces, build custom tools, and solve problems with MEL.

Key Features

  • Fully updated with several new chapters.
    Profusely illustrated and includes a companion Web site with numerous code examples and scene files.
    The authors bring their extensive experience in professional production studios to provide expert guidance.


Technical and nontechnical animators, artists, game developers, visual effects developers, and technical directors.


No. of pages:
© Morgan Kaufmann 2005
Morgan Kaufmann
eBook ISBN:
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"Reading and following the lessons of this book provides one of the best ways for a casual Maya user to elevate their skills to a professional level. The fundamental techniques developed in MEL Scripting for Maya Animators are critical for visual effects artists to learn." — Scott Stokdyk, Visual Effects Supervisor, Sony Pictures Imageworks "While the first edition opened the doors to MEL scripting for interested Maya users, this expanded and updated second edition delves deeper into important programming concepts, and new features in Maya released since the original edition. No longer just for the first steps in MEL programming, this edition takes the reader into the depths of advanced topics such as user interface layout and web panels that are sure to make this book a frequently used and a welcome addition to any technical director's bookshelf." — Doug Cooper, Visual Effects Supervisor, DreamWorks Animation "MEL Scripting for Maya Animators is the set of keys you need to get under the hood of Maya. The book is well written for both technical and non-technical animators. It is an essential tool in making sophisticated animation not only possible but also practical." — Henry LaBounta, Senior Art Director, Electronic Arts "This new edition is – as was the first edition – the very best of an extremely small number of books that even attempt to cover the subject of scripting animation. The authors take great pains to explain where pertinent features, graphs, and editors are found, and to paint a picture of the interconnectivity of Maya’s various networked nodes. If you’re just getting started or are advanced enough to want the second edition’s beefed up content, there’s an empty spot for this book next to your monitor right now. But make sure there is enough space for a few pads of sticky notes and a co

About the Authors

Mark Wilkins Author

Mark R. Wilkins is a technical director at DreamWorks Animation SKG, where he helped develop a production pipeline using Maya for effects and character animation. Mark also provides training and technical assistance to animators using Maya. He previously worked at Walt Disney Feature Animation in a variety of positions including software engineer and scene setup supervisor. He has contributed to a number of films, including Dinosaur, Mission: Impossible 2, Minority Report, and Madagascar. Mark holds a degree in physics from Harvey Mudd College.

Affiliations and Expertise

DreamWorks Animation SKG, Glendale, CA, USA

Chris Kazmier Author

Chris Kazmier is a senior technical director at Sony Pictures Imageworks, where he creates computer-generated effects for live-action films. He has worked on projects ranging from The Haunted Mansion to Sony's first all 3D feature animation Open Season. Previously, Chris worked at DreamWorks on Sinbad and at PDI/DreamWorks on the Intel Aliens ad campaign. Credits also include Fox Animation Studio's Titan AE and Anastasia.

Affiliations and Expertise

Sony Pictures Imageworks, Culver City, California, U.S.A.