Alias|Wavefront Announces Maya 4
On April 23, 2001, at NAB, the annual international conference of the National Association of Broadcasters in Las Vegas, Alias|Wavefront announced Maya 4, the sixth major release of its professional 3D animation and visual effects software. This major new release features enhancements and optimizations that will improve the products overall performance and efficiency, particularly in the areas of rendering, character animation, brush and paint tools and games related functionality. Mayas feature set has been expanded in a manner that substantially optimizes and streamlines production workflow. Managing the workspace is now accomplished in one click using the customizable panel layouts and toolbar controls. Beyond UI, enhanced context sensitive help and Instant Maya books with easy-to-follow examples will prove invaluable to new and intermediate users. Rendering optimizations include selective use of the Intel Optimizing Compiler, which has resulted in an average performance gain of between 5% and 10% on Pentium 3 platforms. Workflow enhancements include an improved hypershade, pre-render optimization and automatic alpha for transparency on file and layered textures. Enhancements to bump mapping, texture filtering and tessellation provide notable advances in image quality. New enhancements to the Trax non-linear motion editing technology include time warping, character merging, drag and drop and character set editing. New character animation features include easy FK/IK switching, quaternion-based IK, motion trails and ghosting, along with a powerful new Jiggle Deformer, which automatically creates secondary "character fat/muscle wobble" animation without dynamics. The Maya Paint Effects technology has been streamlined and enhanced with multi-processor support for painting and rendering, new auto-paint functionality for filling large areas with ease and 35 new preset brushes to compliment the existing 400. Features such as independently animatable color per vertex, Straighten UV Border, and UV Snapshot, along with overall UV texture editor improvements will make the game content creation process faster and more efficient. Web 3D developers using Maya will be able to take advantage of the recently announced Maya Shockwave 3D Exporter in addition to a number of Web plug-ins from third party development partners. Maya Complete 4 will be priced at $7,500 and includes modeling, rendering, animation, dynamics, Artisan, Paint Effects and MEL, an open interface for programming and scripting. Maya Unlimited 4 will be $16,000 and includes Maya Fur, Maya Cloth and Advanced Modeling features. Maya Builder 4 will be priced at $2,995 and include polygon modeling, texturing and animation capabilities for level editors, games tool programmers and Web applications. Maya is currently available on Windows, IRIX, Linux and soon Mac OS X. Maya 4 is scheduled to ship in June 2001.