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View Full Version : Obtaining a job as a MEL Scripter...


Boone
11-01-2003, 06:44 PM
Please excuse my curiousity...

I'm considering obtaining a job as a MEL Scripter/Programmer.

I have been programming in C/C++ for 3-4 years now. MEL Scripting - 2 weeks.

I find MEL rather easy to learn and make simple short-cuts. They pretty much save time having to go through menus. I'm at that level with MEL & Maya.

I asume this is childs play, and to get a job programming MEL, one needs to make and present a more advanced tool in MEL.

What kind of tool would you recommend I make to stand a good chance of getting a position of MEL Programmer?

Thank you all for your time.

dwalden74
11-01-2003, 08:03 PM
Well, I think the fact that you have a solid knowledge of higher-level programming (C and C++) is a huge advantage. For people who are only going to be handling programming-related issues on productions, I think knowledge of MEL alone is not enough (although Im sure there are exceptions to this). Most of the jobs that Ive see that require MEL knowledge also require knowledge of other languages as well (Perl, C++, etc). And if you have the competence to program in C++, its probably a given that you can handle MEL no problem (I can, and Im not even a programmer). Having some quality scripts to show in your MEL portfolio, however, is probably also a good idea.

So, what kind of scripts should you do? I have no idea. What kinds of things are you interested in doing? Just take it from there.

zachgrachan
11-01-2003, 09:06 PM
I like to hang about forums like this one and grab any requests I find. People often ask for a tool that does such and such, so make it for them! Sometimes though, it's me saying, "why is there no tool for..."

Don't look for THE THING to get you a job, look for A THING (ANY thing really). Cuz every job is different, as is every employer.

But I am in the same spot as you, so maybe I'm wrong and there is one tool that would garauntee a job :shrug:

dwalden74
11-01-2003, 09:24 PM
The rigging scripts Ive done is by far the most complex MEL project Ive faced yet. Whats important to note here is that it is not just one script- its an entire series of scripts (about 20 or so) that work together to build a fairly complex system. So, probably something like this would be a good thing to show in your MEL portfolio.

Boone
11-01-2003, 10:01 PM
Thank you kindly, to you both.

Your advice is well taken and is indeed inspiring. PM me if I can return the favour somehow...:beer:

Hugh
11-05-2003, 07:01 PM
Boone: have you looked into the Maya API? I'd recommend "Complete Maya Programming" by David Gould - it gives a good overview of the API and how it differs from normal C++ programming (it took me a good few weeks to properly get my head around how it all worked!)

If you can market yourself as a MEL/API programmer I think you'll have a lot more luck

Boone
11-05-2003, 08:18 PM
Re: Hugh.

Wotcha, mate!:beer:

You ain't going to belive this - but I recieved that book in the post this very morning! Straight from Amazon.co.uk.

I'm on page 25 at the moment - and I can say that it is indeed the 'Daddy' of Maya books. Mr Gould explains the nodes, attributes, 'Compute' functions as clearly as they're gonna get! I find it very logical indeed...:cool:

Its one of the greatest books I've ever read - and I haven't even finished it yet!:thumbsup:

Hugh
11-05-2003, 08:49 PM
You doing the MEL stuff first, then?

You wait till you get to the API part... it's a case of "forget everything you know about OO programming..."

mark_wilkins
11-06-2003, 01:49 AM
It's rare that someone would be hired solely to program in MEL. Rather, someone with skills as a character rigger, a lighter, an effects animator gets hired, in part, on the basis of their ability to use MEL to make their work more efficient.

:D

-- Mark

bigfatMELon
11-06-2003, 06:06 AM
I have to agree here. Knowing mel by itself ain't worth diddly. What gets you hired is knowing MEL and also knowing how all aspects of the production line function. Being able to envision solutions to problems from an artist's POV is crucial and, in my book, that means having experience doing those things in some form or another.

Swiss army knife first, MEL slinger second.

-jl

MikeRhone
11-06-2003, 06:51 AM
Definately.

For a good portion of the scripts you do, you really need ot know a lot of the tools and functions within Maya before you go plums deep into scripting.

Boone
11-06-2003, 05:49 PM
Well, I agree that MEL on its own is pretty weedy - but I can program in C++ as well. Surely being able to write 'plug-ins' counts for some thing these days...:curious:

And to be honest - I'm not exactly THAT new to Maya. I've had a go at all aspects. I just get stuck on applying Textures...UV-unwrapping-mapping is simple, but a little tricky to put into practice...:annoyed:

I think I'm best in the particle side of things...:)

Buexe
11-06-2003, 06:29 PM
Well, what`s the best way to show a potential employer your overall maya and also mel skills? I mean from a finished character you cannot tell if it was a script which did it in seconds or if it was done by hand in weeks of trial and error. Since you probably don`t send in your mel-scripts (your current employer might not like that idea ; ) how does one present a certain level of skill without throwing around too much technical detail?
Is a screen capture video ( like the Byron PolyTools videos for example) a good idea?
TIA buexe

mark_wilkins
11-06-2003, 07:11 PM
The point is that it doesn't matter. If your rig looks great, who cares?

You can usually see how technical a candidate is by talking with them for a while. Nobody usually brings in code samples or shows code on a reel (!) in interviews I've been in.

-- Mark

Boone
11-07-2003, 08:01 PM
Re: Mark_Wilkens.

Now don't get me wrong - I'm not trying to be a big-head or anything. I do respect the fact that you have wrote a book on the subject, so you obviously know alot about the CG industry.

But lets face it - when a programmer goes for a job, they are usually required to show their coding practices. This can only be done with reading their code. If they can't write the code in a clean and orderly fashion - it usually signals that they aren't used to working in a team where the other members of the group can't read their code.

Someone going for an interview can BS their way through. So I would assume that they need to back it up with some proof atleast...:shrug:

mark_wilkins
11-07-2003, 08:10 PM
But lets face it - when a programmer goes for a job, they are usually required to show their coding practices. This can only be done with reading their code. If they can't write the code in a clean and orderly fashion - it usually signals that they aren't used to working in a team where the other members of the group can't read their code.

I've had software jobs and I've had CG jobs, and for each time I've been hired I've gone through numerous interviews. I've also been on the interviewing side on many occasions, at many companies.

Nobody's ever asked for a code sample. When I came out of school, some employers would ask me to write out code for something simple, or they'd discuss with me what my attitudes were about it, but nobody's ever said "bring in listings of code."

At one prior employer, at my instigation, we did administer a brief test of particular C features that were extremely pertinent to our application (embedded systems) that we'd found many experienced C programmers didn't know. This was the closest anyone ever came to what you're talking about.

A major reason companies do not ask for code samples in this industry is that it could be interpreted as attempting to induce applicants to reveal trade secrets, which is a crime.

I'll qualify all of this by saying that I have generally not interviewed for (or been interviewed for) a lot of positions that involve the development of large-scale software. The closest two were when I went to Disney as a software engineer to work on the CAPS system and when I interviewed with Microsoft straight out of college. Neither required a code sample (though Microsoft did put their new-graduate applicants through some rigorous problem-solving tests.)

-- Mark

Boone
11-07-2003, 08:25 PM
Re: Mark_Wilkens.

Oh, well - you certainly know more than I do. Here in the UK, companies have asked for code listings. I suppose that would be an indication that they are aren't all they are cracked up to be! :hmm:

I wonder if I could venture a futher question to you...

Being as I'm best with Maya's Particle systems etc, would you think its a bad idea to make a demo reel containing a character that emits particles - like the Balrog from the new LOTR films? Thats pretty much what I personnally would use MEL for the most...:shrug:

mark_wilkins
11-07-2003, 08:31 PM
Sure! Do something that (a) creates a nice-looking picture and that (b) you're excited about. If you aren't excited about it, you're unlikely to be able to do your best work on it.

-- Mark

Boone
11-07-2003, 08:43 PM
Re: Mark_Wilkens.

I love it when people tell me what I want to hear!:thumbsup:

Cheers, mate.:beer:

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