Both software packages are very good, and both can be used to create excellent 3D animation. But there are some important differences which students should be aware of.
Maya is nowadays the industry standard for 3D animation. Other software packages, such as Houdini, may be snapping at its heels, but Maya remains dominant. A student license of Maya is free, and can be downloaded from the Education Community at the Autodesk website. If you want a job in the global animation industry, Maya remains your top choice.
Note that the Maya educational license is granted by Autodesk for non-commercial use only. If you want to make money from your project, or if you are being paid by a client to make it, then you will need to buy a license from Autodesk. Professional licenses are expensive, so if you are on a tight budget you might want to take a closer look at Blender.
Blender is a very good choice for animators who want to make low-budget projects for commercial clients. Blender is an open source program that is entirely free, and no license fee need be paid.
Blender also comes bundled with a very useful video editor, which is already designed specifically for use with animation. Animators need editing software to make short films, but also - and most pressingly - to assemble a demo reel. A good, well polished demo reel is the key to finding work on our industry. Learn to be a decent editor and you will always be able to tweak and improve your demo reel with ease.
|Free Blender Tutorial at YouTub|
One way of finding out if digital animation is the right career for you is to do a tutorial.
To begin, go to the Blender homepage at www.blender.org and download their free software.
It's easy to do, and quick to install on your laptop, or your friend's laptop. Any reasonably modern machine should be able to run Blender.
Next, go to YouTube and search for Basic Blender Tutorials. What you want are the most basic tutorials available, that teach you the really simple stuff, assuming absolutely no prior knowledge of the programme. Below is one we like, which teaches you how to model a coffee cup. To do this tutorial you will need a PC (it's not so good on a Mac) and a three button mouse (or Wacom tablet).
If you're running a Mac, you might try this Mac-friendly tutorial below instead. The author gives instructions for both platforms (Blender is slightly different on a Mac vs a PC), so if you are on a Mac you are more likely to be able to follow the tutorial without running into problems.