Alias used this week’s NAB 2004 event in Las Vegas, Nevada to announce Maya 6, the latest major revision to its popular 3D graphics and animation software. While the new version gains hundreds of new features and enhancements, significant changes performance boosts for Mac OS X, new tools for creating realistic-looking hair, cloth and fur, integration with Adobe Photoshop and much more.
Maya for Mac OS X has been converted to a Mach-O application, as well. Alias said that this provides plug-in developers with the ability to create their software using Apple’s own developer tools. What’s more, software rendering times on the Mac average 20 to 50 percent faster than previous versions.
“Trax” non-linear animation gets an overhaul in Maya 6 with the addition of motion retargeting and motion redirection capabilities. The Maya Hair toolset lets users braid, curl and style hair using the Maya dynamics engine, apply hair anywhere NURBS curves are used, and manipulate other hair-like objects like ropes, chaines and wires. It can also be used to create dynamic character rigs and surfaces — tail joint chains, for example, or underwater creatures.
Maya 6’s support of cloth and fur animation has also been improved. The software gains visual feedback of cloth stress, new stitching options, geometry-based cloth object manipulation and new caching functionality. Fur can be rendered in mental ray for Maya as well.
The Smooth Proxy tool has been overhauled with dramatic — up to 18x — speed improvements; Subdivision Surface proxy manipulations are up to 8x faster than before. Outliner and Hypershade display performance has been boosted and more.
Maya 6 supports connectivity with Adobe Photoshop — you can read and write PSD files Maya and automatically create connections to Layer Sets in Photoshop. A new embedded Web browser lets users view documentation, tutorials, Maya Embedded Language (MEL) scripts and more. Maya now supports DDS and PNG file formats, updates support for AutoCAD 2004 DWG files and supports IGES file format too.
Maya Paint Effects has been extended to work with polygon meshes; modeling improvements have been made; and a new Soft Modification tool and deformer has been added. Maya 6’s integration with the mental ray for Maya rendered has been enhanced with new capabilities like fur and volumetric fluid effect rendering, image-based lighting and more.
Maya 6 will be available for download on April 26, 2004 for customers with full annual maintenance agreements. A node-locked license for Maya Complete will be priced at about US$2,000, and will be widely available starting in May. Upgrades cost about $900.