Maya was the first 3d program to
handle scripting, come with and api SDK, and be node based.
No it wasn't. CGAL (by Peter Comninos) had a far more powerful scripting engine and SDK than Maya. Then we have Houdini, Power Animator, Softimage 3D and 3ds max. All support scripting. All had an SDK. And all are node based (Although 3ds max hides their node system from you - but it's there if you are prepared to dig through that god awful SDK).
technical artists to develop new solutions to old problems which
inevitably had innovative visual manifestations. What was widely
available to cg artists before Maya? Max, Electric Image AS and
strata3d. these tools at the time where little more than geometry
importers with a time line and a renderer that may or may not be able
Utter tosh. Anecdotal evidence is not evidence. You seem to have erased all animation products available prior to 1998 in your version of history....
what happened when Maya was finally released after four years of
What 4 year delay? I know it took 4 years to develop, but are you seriously saying that Alias had planned to develop maya in zero years?
Due to the complexity of the tool and a steep learning curve in
a time when learning materials where scarce
Utter tosh. When I first purchased Maya 1.0, I got an entire bookshelf of manuals with it (and I still have them!). Those manuals included a full reference, numerous tutorials and tonnes of examples. Learning materials were only scarce if you had a pirated copy. The learning curve wasn't steep at all if you were familiar with power animator....
this compounded with the
fact that many of today's production techniques that are considered
standard where yet to be developed, we saw stale mechanical animations
that lacked aesthetic flare.
First. Which production techniques were yet to be developed exactly?
Skinning? (Utah hand, 1972, Catmull)
Blend Shapes? (Ed Catmull, 1976)
FFDs? (Sederberg and Parry, 1986)
Particle Systems? (William T. Reeves, 1983)
Secondly, the stale mechanical animations were due to bad animators. Most studios realised that getting techhies to animate was a pretty pointless thing to do, so started actively hiring traditional animators, and trained them up in 3d tools. That's all....