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Last modification: 21 Mar, 2018
  • Film & VFX
  • Animation
  • Basics
  • Scene Management
  • Maya
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  • Maya
  • Maya
Skill Level
  • Beginner
30 min

Maya Projects

Creating new projects in Maya

Create a project in Maya every time a new project is started. Then set a project in Maya when switching projects, or every time working with a project on a new computer.

These instructions describe creating and setting projects in more recent versions of Maya, the process was different in versions prior to Maya 2012.

To create a new project

  1. Select File > Project Window.

The Project Window

Maya 2018 Project Window
The project window will display the current project that is set, and usually when starting up Maya this project will be the last one opened, or the can be default project.
  1. Click the New button to the right of the Current Project text box. This will allow an entry in the Current Project box.
  2. Enter the name of the project in the Current Project text box, this will be the name of the directory created.
  3. Click the folder icon to the right of the Location text box to select a directory where the project will be created. This is the location where a new directory (folder), with the name of the project, will be built.
Project Folder Locations
In the Primary Project Locations section, the text boxes display the folder names where Maya looks for files of specific types. These are all the initial folders created for a project.
  1. Click the Accept button at the bottom to create the project directory, and all the folders inside.

After creating the project directory in this method, make sure to set the project to this folder before opening the Maya scene file in the scenes directory. If you have ever opened a Maya scene file and noticed that things are missing - textures, referenced files, or anything else - this is probably due to the fact that the project has not been set.

To set a project

  1. Select File > Project > Set Project...
  2. This will open the Set Project window. This looks a lot like file open window. Navigate to the directory (folder) of the project. This will be the location that contains all the sub-directories (scene, sourceimages, textures). When you see those sub-directories in the window, it's the right place.
Selecting a project folder
Do not click, or select, any folder inside the project folder itself, otherwise the folder selected will be a new project directory. For example, if the scenes folder is selected, the scenes folder inside your project folder is the new project folder. This is a Project folder inside a project folder, and will cause a lot of confusion.
  1. Click the Set button on the lower right.

Or the project can be set when opening a scene file, which is quicker, and more efficient.

Setting a Project

This video will demonstrate how to open a file, and set the project.

  1. Select File > Open Scene...
  2. From the Open window, click the Set Project... button on the lower left of the window.
  3. This will open the Set Project window. This looks a lot like file open window. Navigate to the directory (folder) of the project. This will be the location that contains all the sub-directories (scene, sourceimages, textures). When you see those sub-directories in the window, it's the right place.
  4. Click the Set button on the lower right.
  5. Now find the Maya scene file to open, it should be inside the scenes directory. Select it and click the Open button on the lower right of the window.

Edit project file locations

To change where the project will store different types of files. Make sure the project is set, or created, before editing the project locations.

  1. Select File > Project Window.
  2. In the section called Primary Project Locations is a list of the names of the folders (directories) that Maya uses inside the project locations. These locations determine where Maya will look for certain files. To modify these locations, do one of the following:
    1. Changing the name of the location in the text box will not delete the old directory, but will add the new one, and use that location for the files normally used in that location. For example, changing the Scenes location to scene will create a folder in the project directory called scene, and store Maya scene files in that new directory. This will not move files from the old location to the new directory.
    2. If a field is blank, entering a title in the textbox will create a directory (folder) with that name in the project directory.
    3. Deleting the title in a text box will not delete the directory, it will merely tell Maya not to store files of that type in that directory.
  3. When finished, click the Accept button at the lower left of the window.

Project location usage

The following are some important locations, and the files they contain.

  • Scenes: As mentioned, this folder will contain all the Maya scene files, wither Maya ASCII, or Maya Binary files. If the Incremental Saves option is enabled, a folder called incrementalSave will be created inside the scenes folder, and contain all the files that are incremental.
  • Templates (Assets): Assets is a more recent feature in Maya, it is a set of workflow management tools that allow components or "Assets" to be created to plan and organize the capabilities and attributes of various parts of a scene. Maya sometimes refers to these as Templates, and even the project location refers to this as templates, but by default uses a folder called Assets. This folder will contain files with a .template extension, but are XML files.
  • Images: This is the default location for output images from Maya, this includes UV Snapshots, renders, and temp files from the render view window.
  • Source Images: This is the default location for input files for Maya; file textures, PSD texture files, and movie texture files. Maya will place lightmaps, displacements maps and baked files in this location as well.
  • Render Data: Other folders will be created inside this folder, generally depth and ipr images as well as others.
    • The folder for IPR Images will store images from the IPR render when Maya's software renderer is used with IPR in the render view.
    • The depth folder is used to store files used when the Depth Channel (Z depth) is enabled in the render settings, or when Depth Map shadows is enabled, and the Disk Based Dmaps are used.
  • AutoSave: This location will store all the autosaved files. If this feature is enabled in the preferences, the scene files opened in scenes directory will be automatically saved in this folder, as well as saved as the original.
  • Sound: Audio files.
  • Scripts (previously MEL): Scripts that include MEL (Maya embedded language), or other script files. Any scripts in this folder will be executed when setting the project.
  • Movies: Movie files, which includes playblasts.
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