Las Vegas, Nevada – NAB — Alias, a Silicon Graphics Inc. (NYSE: SGI) company, has announced the next version of its award-winning 3D animation and special effects software – Maya® 6. A customer driven release, Maya 6 is packed with literally hundreds of new features and enhancements requested by Maya users from both large and small organizations working in film, broadcast, game development, digital publishing and visualization markets.
Maya 6 responds to the everyday production demands of 3D artists, enabling them to unleash their creativity and bring their ideas to life.
“The intense pace of Maya development continues and Maya 6 is proof of this,” says Bob Bennett, general manager, product management at Alias. “Maya 6 is more flexible for artists and more powerful for developers than any previous release. It is the result of the largest 3D development team in the industry responding directly to customer requests in the many industries Alias serves.”
News source: Graphics.com Significant Advances in Character Creation and Enhanced Character Animation Capabilities
For those artists who love animating and use Maya for character creation, there is a focused set of new and enhanced features that offer unparalleled power and flexibility. Trax non-linear animation has been re-architected in Maya 6. Motion retargeting and motion redirection capabilities have been added allowing animators a powerful new means to quickly re-purpose animation clips from a motion library, onto any character of their choice.
Character animators can tap into the innovative new Maya Hair toolset, featuring a dynamic curve simulation engine designed to enable long hair to be added to characters. The ability to braid, curl and style hair is perfectly integrated with the Maya dynamics engine, allowing for strikingly realistic hair movement with accurate collisions. In addition to long hair effects, the Maya Hair dynamic curves represent a major new entity that can be used anywhere NURBS curves are currently used; as well as lending themselves to other hair-like objects such as ropes, chains and wires, this allows such advanced animation effects as dynamic character rigs and surfaces to be easily achieved – for example, providing dangling tail joint chains, or undulating underwater creatures.
“The dynamic curves are an amazing aspect of the new hair system,” states Matt Wood, head of 3D graphics for the UK-based production facility, 3sixty. “On an upcoming ship-focused project we will need to make a lot of ropes tied to masts and such things. When I tried out the dynamic curves feature in Maya 6, the results were amazing, even on the first attempt. I just selected all the curves and made them dynamic – that was it.”
Maya 6 is better equipped to add digital clothing to characters and to animate creatures with realistic fur. Visual feedback of Cloth stress, new stitching options, easier manipulation of Cloth Objects based on geometry, plus extensive new caching functionality including the ability to view, edit and blend between multiple caches, speed the creation and manipulation of realistic clothing and cloth effects. Artists using Maya Fur now have the option to render Fur in mental ray® for Maya – allowing them to take advantage of the integrated mental ray 3.3 renderer and to achieve effects involving reflections, refractions, global illumination and caustics.
Maya Scales to Meet Next Generation Production Challenges
As 3D projects continue to grow in complexity, Maya is advancing in the areas of performance and scene management to help artists overcome the challenges of working with dense geometry and animation data.
Maya 6 software boasts optimizations resulting in performance gains in many areas, most notably in the use of the Smooth Proxy tool that is up to 18 times faster; Subdivision Surface proxy manipulations are now up to eight times faster. Outliner and Hypershade display performance are boosted and new tools including a lattice manipulator in the Graph Editor allow dense keyframe data to be easily edited. Also with Maya 6, new file referencing, scene segmentation and shader organization features make it easier to handle today’s increasingly large data sets.
Mac users will benefit from the conversion of Maya to a Mach-O application, allowing plug-in developers to use Xcode from the Apple® Developer Tools. Also of note is that Maya software rendering times on the Mac averages 20-50% faster than previous versions.
Superior Interaction and Integration with Industry-Standard Tools
With Maya 6 it becomes easier than ever to integrate Maya into any production environment. New connectivity with Adobe® Photoshop® results in a streamlined workflow for using Maya and Photoshop together in a tightly integrated way; PSD files can be both read into Maya and written out from Maya, with automatically created connections to Layer Sets in Photoshop facilitating an iterative painting workflow.
Alias continues to provide new connections to Maya with support for new file formats. Maya users from game developers to graphic designers and artists working in film and video will benefit from support for the DDS and popular PNG file formats- both new in Maya 6. Full bi-directional support for Alias StudioTools™ and OpenFlight® on all platforms is also provided with this release of Maya, along with updated support for AutoCAD 2004 DWG files and enhanced support for IGES files.
Uniquely Meeting Everyday Production Demands
Maya development continues to have an unwavering focus on meeting the demands of its unique customer base and Maya 6 is packed with enhancements that improve the efficiency of the most common Maya workflows. The new ability to apply deformers to particles brings greater control to the dynamics toolset, while in response to a popular request, Maya Paint Effects™ has been extended so that it can be used with polygon meshes. Modeling improvements abound, these include: the ability to produce a crackless polygon mesh from multi-surface NURBS, enhanced polygon beveling, a new polygon mirror cut option and workflow enhancements for Smooth Proxy; in addition, a new Soft Modification tool and deformer allows users to move, scale and rotate a selection with customizable curve-based falloff.
Continuing the advancement of rendering technology, Maya 6 features enhanced integration with mental ray for Maya including IPR, the ability to render fur and volumetric fluid effects, image-based lighting, blurry reflections and refractions, contour rendering and easy access to native shaders. The new high quality rendering in the interactive viewport enables the interactive preview of shading attributes such as bump, transparency and specularity. Maya 6 offers four integrated rendering options: Hardware rendering, Vector rendering, mental ray and the native Maya Software renderer. The re-written rendering documentation gives users a better understanding of Maya’s integrated renderers by presenting concepts and workflows clearly and comprehensively. As well, the improved search engine and navigation for Maya documentation makes it easier for users to find what they need to know, in rendering or any aspect of Maya.
“Maya’s new tightly integrated rendering possibilities with mental ray and Fluid Effects opens up a whole new world of possibilities, enabling us to create all kinds of original effects,” says Rob van den Bragt, 3D animation supervisor at The Mill. “Animating rolling clouds, spreading ink stains and burning objects are now within everybody’s reach with Maya 6.”
New Learning Tools and Maintenance Services
Alias’ global customer services team is launching new Maya 6 self-paced Learning Tools and new services for maintenance customers. Two new Learning Tools available to purchase now at alias.com are Learning Maya 6 | Foundation and Learning Maya 6 | Unlimited Features. These are just two of dozens of Maya 6 Learning Tools that will be released over the next few months. Upcoming DVDs, books and CDs include Maya Beginner’s Guides, Discover Maya | Graphics in Motion and Learning Maya 6 | Modeling for Animation, to name a few.
Alias’ maintenance service is improved to meet the needs of Maya customers. New services available with the launch of Maya 6 include an ‘Ask Alias’ service that provides quick answers to technical questions using a new online question and answer service; new online case submission allowing users to log their case in whatever way is easiest – by phone, or online. (Note: not available in Asia-Pacific); and an enhanced Alias eSupport providing more learning content monthly than ever before.
Maya 6 software can be seen at NAB in Alias suite #S111 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Maya artists will conduct demos hourly.
Pricing and Availability
Maya 6 is available via download on April 26, 2004 for Maya customers with current full annual maintenance agreements. Maya Complete for the Windows, IRIX®, Linux and Mac OS X operating systems, is priced at $1,999* and includes modeling, rendering, animation, dynamics, Maya Artisan, Maya Paint Effects, mental ray for Maya and Maya Embedded Language (MEL), an open interface for programming and scripting. Maya Unlimited™ for the Windows, IRIX and Linux operating systems, is priced at $6,999* and includes all features in Maya Complete along with Maya Hair, Maya Fluid Effects™, Maya Fur, Maya Cloth and Maya Live. Maya will be available to purchase in May 2004 through the Alias network of authorized resellers or online at: http://www.alias.com .
Version upgrades for Maya Complete are priced at $899* and for Maya Unlimited at $1,249*.
* Prices are list prices for node-locked licenses; floating licenses for Maya Complete and Maya Unlimited are available at an additional fee. All prices quoted are in U.S. dollars. International pricing may vary.