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Chapter 16. Your Next Steps: Efficiency ... > Installing Third-Party Plug-Ins, Mat...

Installing Third-Party Plug-Ins, Materials, and Scripts

An enormous free resource worth exploring comes from Maya's large user base. A mixture of plug-ins, MELscripts, material shaders, and other aids are available for download at http://www.AliasWavefront.com, as well as third-party web sites, such as http://www.highend3d.com. You can find solutions for many typical problems and utilities that simplify your work. Often, you'll find these solutions inspiring: They show Maya's flexibility, demonstrate techniques you might not have been aware of, and show you how other animators are solving problems similar to ones you'll probably face. You can install and use these add-ons as follows:

  • MELscripts: Save the files in one of your MELscripts directories, typically your Maya\5.0\scripts folder under your main My Documents or Documents and Settings folder. Run the script by typing its name in the Command Line. For example, if the script is called animToolbox.MEL, run it by typing animToolbox and pressing Enter. You might need to restart Maya for it to pick up scripts added while Maya was open. You can place these scripts in hotkeys, marking menus, and shelves just like the MELscript you worked with previously. MELscripts can look as powerful and integrated as any other part of Maya (see the sample in Figure 16.18).

    Figure 16.18. Animation Toolbox (Mikael Hakansson) is a powerful and freely distributed MELscript for Maya.

  • Shaders: They're usually .mb or .ma files, but you normally load them from Hypershade via its File | Import option. One or more shaders then appear in the top section of Hypershade. Usually, no new geometry appears in your scene, but not always. Exploring the construction of the shaders you download can yield new perspectives on how to produce complex types of materials. See the “Creating Your Own Material Libraries” section for information on building a material library from your shader collection.

  • Plug-ins: Plug-ins generally include one or more .mll files placed in the AW\Maya\bin\plug-ins folder, but they don't run until you enable them in Maya's Plug-in Manager (Window | Settings/Preferences | Plug-in Manager). You should see each .mll file listed, and enable the plug-ins once or permanently (see Figure 16.19). Because plug-ins take system resources, you can leave many of your plug-ins unloaded until needed.

    Figure 16.19. Use Maya's Plug-in Manager to choose which plug-ins are running.



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