Alias|Wavefront is showing off Maya 4 at this week’s Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. Maya is a professional 3D animation software that runs on various operating systems. The company earlier this year threw its support behind Mac OS X.
The new version includes architectural support for per pixel shading, leading the way to support for Nvidia’s GeForce 3 graphics cards, which make use of such capabilities.
Why is Maya such a big deal for gamers? Alias|Wavefront product manager Tom Harper says it’s because the software has become “one of the dominant technologies in the game development market.”
The company has hordes of testimonials from game developers who find Maya 4 indispensable, and that’s good news for the Mac — perhaps some game developers will be compelled to give the Mac a try as a potential production workstation for their 3D graphics and animation needs.
“Maya 4, with its advanced technology for creators of next-generation games, will continue that legacy. Support for pixel and vertex shaders will allow programmers to modify the drawing of objects in Maya’s 3D viewport while workflow enhancements will improve the productivity of Maya artists and allow new users to quickly get up to speed,” said Harper.
Although Mac users will be exposed to the software for the first time with the OS X release, Maya 4 sports improvements for users familiar with previous iterations. Alias|Wavefront says the software has been enhanced with greater ease of use and better general usability. Maya’s feature set has been expanded with customizable panel layouts and toolbar controls, new Paint Effects brushes, a new shader library, enhanced context-sensitive help and more.
The new version also sports enhancements to the non-linear motion editing technology called Trax. Time warping, character merging, and drag-and-drop character set editing are now included. Other new features include FK/IK switching, switchable Euler and Quaternion rotations, motion trails and ghosting, and a new Jiggle Deformer which creates realistic fat and muscle wobble effects without requiring dynamics.
Of course, all this power comes at a price, and that price ain’t cheap. Pricing ranges from $2,995 to $16,000 depending on your needs. The company says Maya 4’s Mac OS X-compatible version is coming soon.