Expressing my frustration for Maya’s animation layers

When I first heard that Maya 2009 would finally come with animation layer support, I thought there finally is a really good feature that many animators crave in their animation software. I recently been working on some simple tools working with animation but adding additional options for using layers. So far I am sort of let down by how the layers were implimented and how much of a headache it is to do common things with it. Just adding a couple layers to a single option creates this nasty web in the hypergraph which is hard to properly trace and sort the connections. The scripting functions for animation layers are weak and equally confusing. For example, you must select objects to add to the layer rather than in the command, pass along a list of object names.  Copying and pasting keys from one object to another via copyKeys and pasteKeys comannds do not have options for specifying a layer. You must select the layer first before each operation, but there are still some catches. Personally, I would have completely changed how the layers work in Maya, but since like most new things Autodesk introduce are far from polished, I have to find work arounds to get the results I want.

I know this seems like a rant, and in a way it is. Maya is probably one of the best public animation software packages and it makes me wonder why they released this feature with limited support. I won’t hold my breathe for any complete rewrites, but I’m hoping maybe someone will write their own layering plugin and share it. This makes me seem I dislike Autodesk which is far from the truth, but this one of bigger things they added to the software in the animation side and it was kind of a let down.

I’ll try to post some of the information and tips soon for anyone else who is running into the same questions and confusion as I was as I haven’t found any resources online yet.

Anyone else want to share their thoughts, please leave a comment or contact me.

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