MEL, Maya Embedded Language, is the backbone of the Maya system. In fact, almost all of what we call “Maya” (the interface, the menus, the buttons and gizmos) is generated by MEL. The actual application of Maya is essentially just a MEL interpreter. You could completely rewrite the Maya interface using MEL. Everything you model, animate, or configure in Maya, no matter how complicated, could potentially be replicated through a MEL script. This makes MEL quite possibly the most powerful tool in the toolbox of a dedicated Maya artist. You can automate repetitive tasks, and procedurally generate models and animations that would otherwise take hours or days to achieve — if not be impossible to do so at all. As I continue to learn MEL, I’ll be posting some tips, tricks, annoyances, and the like. Might even throw in my scripts as a philanthropic gesture.
So, the question is… what is the best way to go about learning this stuff? Honestly, I don’t know. But if you’re keen on teaching yourself, here’s some advice.
I am by no means an expert, but I hope this helps. If anyone DOES happen to be an expert, please let me know where I’m wrong, and please offer whatever advice you have.
If you’ve been using Mental Ray for any length of time, you’ll probably be familiar with this message: “Got 8 satellite CPUs… Rendering with Mental Ray… Mental Ray is out of memory… Mental Ray is out of memory… Cannot allocate 223000 bytes… Go eat bleach and die, because Mental Ray hates you”
Well, maybe not the bit about bleach. But the Mental Ray Memory Grinder is a true annoyance. The problem is flushing. No, really, that’s the term that programmers use, and the analogy is pretty apt. The way that Mental Ray is set up by default is like having a toilet that doesn’t flush. The poo (in this case your scene and textures (no offense)) just keeps piling up until the smell can kill household pets. Then Mental Ray commits seppuku and you’re left with a cryptic message and an excuse for Todd Fechter that just won’t fly. Keep reading to find out how to make the damned thing work.