Maya Entertainment Creation Suite 2011 Review: Killer Productivity
Other improvements include being able to easily select and mask areas to paint weights directly within the paint weights tool. Previously users had to first exit, switch to component mode select verts and then relaunch the paint weights tool. The influence list has been vastly improved with sorting, filtering and pinning all speeding up the often times tedious task of weighting a complex skeleton. And Dual Quaternion skinning has been added to fix collapsing mesh points in areas like wrists and shoulders, along with the ability paint a mix map between regular linear skinning and DQ skinning, giving you needed control over the effect.
One other new skinning choice is the Interactive skinning tools that use capsules to quickly define how the skeleton will influence the mesh without relying on weight painting. Because the capsules are volumes the weighting information is not tied in to the vertx ID like regular skinning, allowing for changes to models without breaking all the weighting.
With MotionBuilder, realtime animation has always been its strong suit but they have somehow made it even faster for large scenes and heavy characters by utilizing the GPU for skinning and blendshapes.
The story tool, while faster with each past release, finished getting moved into the core display code and can now take on heavy edits with ease.
Materials and texture handling in FBX and Motionbuider2011 have been vastly improved. The update allows for more complicated shaders and per face texture map assignment to be supported. Having often had characters with 3dmax Multi-Sub Object shader on them, it was always difficult having to redo the texture just for export to Motionbuider, and now we don't have to, thanks to the latest FBX update.
While there are many other updates covered on the Autodesk site, the last thing I have to mention is that MotionBuilder now opens and saves directly the latest FBX format. Before MotionBuilder 2011, the FBX file saved out of Motionbuilder was different than what was exported from Maya or other FBX supporting applications and you were forced to keep track of exported FBX files separate from MotionBuilder FBX files. You also then had to use a separate importer to load them. This seems like a tiny thing, but after lots of confusion and frustration, it is now as easy as File Save, File open and I am very happy about that.