updated 10:05 am EST, Mon January 31, 2005
Alias ships Maya 6.5
Alias today announced the latest version of its Maya software package: is a performance-driven release optimized to meet the needs of games, film, broadcast and digital publishing professionals seeking performance enhancements while working with massive datasets. Other new features include new Scene segmentation tools, direct import from most major CAD packages, and a new form of network rendering that allows use of additional CPUs in a mental ray for Maya render. Alias says that customers on the Maya Platinum Membership Program can download the software today, while the full version of Maya 6.5 will begin shipping worldwide in February 2005. Maya Complete is $2000 and Maya Unlimited is $7000, while upgrades start at $900.
"Maya 6.5 was clearly driven by daily production demands," says Dirk Bialluch, managing director at Lightstorm 3D. "Overall performance has increased drastically and working with Maya feels much more fluid in almost every aspect. With the tight level of integration reached in Maya 6.5, we switched our complete render pipeline to mental ray." Lightstorm3D is a German-based computer graphics firm offering advanced 3D and animation solutions for film, broadcast, computer games, internet and visualization.
In response to an increase in scene file complexity within the 3D community, Alias has introduced new scene segmentation features, which it says offers more control over scene load times, project collaboration and overall data-handling performance.Scene segmentation enhancements include new file referencing options such as proxies, reference locking and the ability to save changes back to a reference, as well as enhancements to existing file referencing features.
Additionally, Maya 6.5 features an expanded import of large CAD datasets through the addition of the new STEP translator that allows efficient importing of files from most major CAD packages. Importing OBJ files on Windows platform is also significantly faster and the FBX plug-in is now included with Maya. The FBX plug-in allows for the exchange of 3D assets and media between a wide variety of applications.
Maya 6.5, which offers improvements throughout several key areas, also includes mental ray for Maya Satellite, and a host of new features (including rapid scan-line rendering) that stem from the integration of a new mental ray 3.4 core. The company says that users can expect performance improvements in modeling, an improved polygon bevel tool, optimized toolsets for animation/character setup, and deformers, and a network rendering option that supplements the mental ray rendering capabilities within Maya 6.5
"This allows artists to achieve faster rendering results including Interactive Photorealistic Rendering (IPR), improved interactive and batch rendering performance and faster pre-lighting of both textures and vertices. The mental ray for Maya Satellite feature comes free with Maya Complete (2 CPUs) and Maya Unlimited (8 CPUs) and is available for the Windows, Linux and Mac OS X platforms."
Other Areas of improvement include, Maya Cloth, Maya Hair, Maya Fur, Maya Fluid Effects, Maya Embedded Language (MEL), API, Plug-ins, Devkit and the embedded web browser.
New Platinum and Silver membership services
Alias also launchied several additional new services for both Platinum and Silver members. New Platinum services include: improved interactive online case management with automated bug reporting and 'super user' access; expanded hours for hotline support and improved response and resolution times; and until June 2005 members can take advantage of one hour of personal training via phone call with an Alias expert support engineer.
New Silver Membership services include: new textures and shaders database, selected Learning Tools at no charge and Alias weblogs by industry leaders and Alias product specialists who discuss how they create work using Alias software.
The pricing of Maya remains unchanged: Maya Complete 6.5 is $2000 and Maya Unlimited is $7000. Upgrade pricing is $900 for Maya Complete and $1250 for Maya Unlimited. Both are available on the Windows, IRIX, Linux and Mac OS X platforms. mental ray 3.4 is offered from Alias as a stand-alone renderer and will be available to those customers on Alias' mental ray maintenance program on February 8, 2005. mental ray 3.4 will begin shipping to new customers February 28, 2005.