First thing is check out this thread
I wrote about using Xgrid with Blender. That will give you the conceptual setup for the Maya setup.
Make sure Maya is correctly installed on each rendering node before you start anything else. Besides simply being installed just make sure the command line renderer works on each machine. The Render command works like:
Render <options> <file>
Which you may or may not know. I'm assuming you don't but don't take that personally please. So a render command from Terminal would look like
Once you're sure the command line renderer works on each system fire up Maya and open the project you want to render on your little grid. Switch to Render
mode then select Window
-> Rendering Editors
-> Render Globals
and set all of the options you'd like such as the file format of the output images, the naming scheme of the output images (name.#.ext works well), and finally your rendering options. Save the scene file.
The setup for Xgrid is almost identical to that of Blender. Your render nodes need to be able to see a central file server and be able to write to it. Also stick your Maya project directory on this file share and make sure all of your textures and scene files are in it and working properly.
Now once everything is humming along you can start an Xgrid controller and then launch the Xgrid application. Select the controller you want to use and then make a new XFeed. Edit it to look a lot like this:
You might need to use the long path for Maya's Renderer but everything else ought to work alright. The -b argument tells Maya to render the output on a frame by frame basis, -amt will abort the render if a texture is missing, and -proj tells Maya where the project directory is and as such where to stick the output files. As long as this project directory is on a central file server (or your Xgrid controller) you'll end up with all of your output files collected in whatever subdirectory you told Maya to use when you were adjusting the Render Globals. This page
has a huge number of command line options for Maya's renderer. Many of these are used to override Render Globals stored in the Maya file.
Like my Blender example you can just use Quicktime to open the image sequence and then save the video to whatever format you'd like. A handful of Macs left on overnight can easily cut your animation rendering time by a huge amount. Like the Blender example I made earlier, the XFeed jobs are usually only limited by how fast a node can render an individual frame and then write it to a file share. There's no need for the entire project and Render program to be shipped to every single system on the network for every frame.