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Max / Maya
Similarities and Differences:
Max and Maya reference outlines slimilar tools in the two packages for people needing to move from one to the other.

Both Max and Maya are very powerful animation packages and are able to set up character rigs in many ways. This is not an attempt to state which package is better or worse, it is here for people that are moving from one package to the other and want to have an understanding of what they should be looking for to find like tools. I will endevor to add to this chart over time so that I include many of the other tools that character riggers need to complete their jobs.

If you are interested in Max Script and MEL and need a reference guild from one to the other I would suggest Bobos mel2Max page.

This table shows some of the concepts that are in both packages but have different names.
The center column describes if the tool in Max and Maya preform the same task, are just similar or don't have a direct match at all. This is just a guild as the two packages have methods for preforming just about anything possible but the tools used might be completely different.
  • M: Match, tools preform the same basic functions.
  • S: Similar, tools have some of the same features but a different work flow.
  • C: Combination, Tool doesn't have a direct match but uses a combination of other tools to achieve the same results.
  • N: None, No direct built in method for achieving the same results.
Tools:
Max: Key: Maya:
Command Panel:
Command Panel contains most of the tools for creating and editing objects and nodes in Max.
S Attribute Editor:
Attribute Editor is for editing the parameters of attributes. Object creation and other like tools of Max's command panel are in other areas of Maya.
Layer Manager:
Manages layers of objects. Layers can be named, hidden, frozen and have render settings set by layer.
M Layer Editor:
Manages layers of objects. Layers can be named, hidden, template.
Selection Sets:
Allows for groups of objects and sub objects to have a named set that enables easy selection of objects. An object or sub-object component can be in any number of selection sets.
M Quick Select Sets:
Allows for groups of objects and components to have a named set that enables easy selection of objects. An object or component can be in any number of selection sets.
Quad Menus:
On screen menu system for easy access to tools, settings and commands
M Hot Box:
On screen menu system for easy access to tools, settings and commands
Max Script Listener:
Script feed back window. Errors and out put form running scripts are echoed to the listener. Also allows for Macro Recording of what the user is doing for easy script writing.
M Script Editor:
Script feed back window. Errors and out put form running scripts are echoed to the listener. Also allows for echoing all commands for easy script writing.
Visual Max Script Editor:
Drag and drop Max Script UI creation too. User can drag and drop UI items into a rollout that can be saved and used in a scripted utility.
N
Max Script Editor:
Feature rich, tabbed code editor based off the Scintilla code editor.
N None:
Maya has plugins available for working with large code bases in Maya instead of using external editors.
Make Preview:
Creates an AVI or MOV movie of the viewport for animation checking and playback.
M Playblast:
Creates an AVI or MOV movie of the view port for animation checking and playback.
Animation Controllers and Constraints:
Max: Key: Maya:
Position Constraint:
Constrains position of an object to any number of others.
M Point Constraint:
Constrains position of an object to any number of others.
Orientation Constraint:
Constrains rotations of a node to any number of others.
M Orient Constraint:
Constrains rotations of a node to any number of others.
Path Constraint:
Constrains a node to a spine or nurbs curve.
M Point On Curve:
Constrains a node to a spine or nurbs curve.
Link Constraint:
Constrains the transform matrix of a node to others. Constraint only links to one object at a time and can be animated from one node to another.
S Parent Constraint:
Constrains transform matrix to any number of other nodes. The constraint can be weighted between nodes.
Look At Constraint:
Constraints a given axis to point at a target node. Can be weighted between several targets.
M Aim Constraint:
Constraints a given axis to point at a target node. Can be weighted between several targets.
Expressions Controller:
Uses a proprietary language other then Max Script. Expressions controllers are very fast but limited by the commands that can be used.
N
Script Controller:
Uses Max Script and any of it's commands and functions. Script controllers allow for variables to be added that are node based so if object names change the scripted code is not affected. Because of the node based system Script controllers are fast and very flexible.
M Expression Editor:
Uses Maya scripting language called MEL and any of it's functions and commands. Accesses object by name, when there is a change in the name of an object in the scene the MEL code is parsed to up date the name. This can cause major changes in the original code.
Parameter Wiring:
Connects one parameter with another and allows for expressions to be added in the form of Max Script. Used for quick connections of values with simple expressions.
C Connection Editor + Utility Nodes:
Connection Editor in Maya connects one parameter to another but doesn't allow for expressions directly to be added. Utility nodes are used to create complex expressions. This is method is more preferred then the Expression Editor as it is node based and faster.
Extract Transform Helper:
This helper object in Max is used to extract transform data from an object. That data can be used to drive expressions, script controllers, wire parameters or reaction manager. Some of the transform data that are returned are rotations, positions and distances.
S Utility Nodes:
There are hundreds of Utility Nodes in Maya that handle every thing from simple math like Addition or Multiplication to more complex math like returning normals of a face. The connection editor is used to connect the nodes together to drive parameters in the scene.
Spring Controller:
Simple dynamics tool for node level transforms. Doesn't allow for collisions but forces can be added like wind and gravity. Springs can be used to simulate simple secondary motion.
M Jiggle Deformer:
Simple dynamics tool for node and component level transforms. Used for simple secondary motion but doesn't allow for forces or collisions to be added.
Limit Controller:
Sets limits on any parameter so that the value will not go above or below a certain point.
C Attribute Editor:
Limits can be set for transforms, rotations and scale only in the attribute editor. To set limits on other values utility nodes would have to be used.
Reaction Manager:
Allows for a reaction based control of any set of parameters. A controlling parameter called a Master is set and can drive any number of slave parameters. The reactions are set up interactively and can be blended with function curves. The master and slave values can be a point3, quaternion or float/integer values. Use for setting up complex sets of reactions for animation. Using list controllers any number of inputs can control a single parameter.
M Set Driven Key:
Allows for a driver/driven based control of any set of attributes. Driver attributes are added to control driven attributes. Function curved are used to control the blending of driver inputs.
IK Solvers and Bones:
Max: Key: Maya:
HI Solver: (History Independent)
A multi purpose IK solver that handles any number of joints in a chain. Can be added to any type of object hierarchy. The solver plane can be handled in three different ways, as the parent end, the goal end or by assigning an up node as a target object.
M RP/SC Solver:
A multi purpose IK solver that handles any number of joints in a chain. Can only be used with Mayas bones. The RP solver and the SC solver handle the solver plane in two different manners.
Limb Solver:
An optimized version of the HI solver that only handles two bones chains. This solver is also open source for developers. Originally designed for game exports. Can be added to any type of object hierarchy.
N
Spline IK Solver:
Enabled a chain of objects to be controlled by a spline or nurbs curve. Often used for stretchy character spines. Can be added to any type of object hierarchy.
M IK Spline Solver:
Enabled a chain of objects to be controlled by a nurbs curve. Often used for stretchy character spines. Can only be used with Mayas bones.
HD Solver: (History Dependent):
Older IK solver that is dependent on the history of the scene. This solver isn't used much as it can get very slow over time. It does however handle any number of joints and any number of joint angles unlike the HI solver. Can be added to any type of object hierarchy.
N
Bones:
Max Bones are created as a parametric object. This object is a mesh object and can be edited and modeled as any mesh object can. The bones differ as they have squash and stretch properties built in. The squash and stretch also affect the Skin modifier directly.
S Bones:
Maya's bone objects are open GL drawings instead of geometry. This means that they cannot be modeled. Maya's bones don't have squash and stretch abilities. Other methods need to be used to achieve the same results.
Skinning and Deformations:
Max: Key: Maya:
Skin:
Binds the vertices's of an object to bones or any other object using a weighted system.
M Skin Cluster:
Binds the vertices's of an object to bones or any other object using a weighted system.
Skin Wrap:
Binds the vertices's of objects to the vertices's of another object in the scene. There can be several driving objects blended together. Can be converted to Skin Modifier.
M Wrap Deformer:
Binds the vertices's of objects to the vertices's of another object in the scene.
Skin Morph:
Allows for vertices's of a model to be morphed based on the angles of joints. This tools is used to create corrective morph targets for joints on characters where straight skinning methods were not enough.
C Blend Shapes + Util Nodes + Connections Editor:
To create corrective blend shapes you need to use a combination of blend shapes connected to utility nodes vis the connection editor.
Flex Modifier:
Adds secondary motion at the vertex level to models. Allows for basic collisions and forces to be added as well as edge length springs to try and reduce the amount of stretching the in object.
S Jiggle Deformer:
Simple dynamics tool for node and component level transforms. Used for simple secondary motion but doesn't allow for forces or collisions to be added.
Morpher:
Designed for handling facial animation and other blendable shape deformation. Each Morph modifier handles up to 99 morph targets, to use more other Morpher modifiers can be added to the stack. Multiple targets can be used to create a Progressive Morph that will interpolate curves from one target shape to another.
M Blend Shapes:
Designed for handling facial animation and other blendable shape deformation. Handles an unlimited number of blend shapes.
Graphs and Tools:
Max: Key: Maya:
Curve Editor:
Displays function curves for animated tracks. Also has tools for working with function curves and animation.
M Graph Editor:
Displays function curves for animated tracks. Also has tools for working with function curves and animation.
Dope Sheet:
Displays keys for animated objects.
M Dope Sheet:
Displays keys for animated objects.
Schematic View:
Node based editor for displaying all the connections in the scene. Connections can be created and removed.
S Hypergraph:
Node based editor for displaying all the connections in the scene. Connections can be created and removed.

N Hypershade:
Node based editor where new nodes can be created and connected together using the connection editor. This tool is the back bone of Maya's node networks.
Motion Mixer:
NLA animation mixer for working with layers of animation. Animation can be blended together to produce a final animation.
S Trax Editor:
NLA animation mixer for working with layers of animation. Animation can be blended together to produce a final animation.

M