updated 08:55 am EDT, Mon August 1, 2005
Maya 7 to ship in August
today announced Maya 7, an update to the industry-standard solution for 3D modeling, animation, effects, and rendering. Version 7 offers new and improved tools for fast, realistic character animation, streamlined modeling and texturing, ground-breaking visual effects, and increased productivity. Alias said that version 7 offers a complete re-architecture of the Maya render layers functionality, allowing users to manage multiple versions of objects--including materials, lights and cameras, as well as post processes such as Maya Fur and Maya Paint Effects--to be managed in a single scene file. Maya 7 will ship in August starting at $2000.
"Maya 7 reflects our resolve to give artists the power to create ground-breaking computer graphics that tell better stories, enhance interactive experiences, and enable people to more accurately visualize products and designs," said Jill Ramsay, senior product manager for Maya. "We involved Maya users earlier and more extensively than ever before in our development process; the features and enhancements in this release have been guided by extensive feedback from leading studios and individuals worldwide. This is a must-have release."
The company also said that render layers can be rendered with any renderer integrated in Maya, including the latest mental ray for Maya technology. "This new workflow not only streamlines the rendering process, but it also prepares renders for optimal output to the artists' compositor of choice, or to Adobe Photoshop or Macromedia Flash." Maya 7 also features improved integration with Photoshop, as well as Adobe Illustrator, Alias MotionBuilder, and popular CAD applications.
The integration of the industry-leading full-body IK solver from Alias MotionBuilder makes rigging and posing characters simpler and more precise, according to the company. Maya 7 now also supports collaborative, parallel workflows through its ability to iteratively substitute geometry and allow modelers, animators and technical directors to work on the same character simultaneously in a non-destructive way.
Maya 7 also introduces RenderMan-compatible variable creasing on smoothly subdivided polygon meshes, allowing precise and intuitive control between smooth and hard edges. Portions of the subdivision surface implementation in Maya incorporate the use of Pixar Subdivision Surface Patents.
"We are very pleased to see Maya 7 using Pixar's patented technology. This is very convenient for compatibility between Maya and our in-house tools, as well as a tremendous benefit for the many members of the Maya community who use Pixar's RenderMan, MTOR and RenderMan for Maya products," said Dana Batali, director of RenderMan product development at Pixar Animation Studios.
Version 7 also includes a host of other enhancements specifically requested by the games-development community include Edge Loop and Edge Ring tools, UV unfolding, tri-planar and multi-mesh mapping, together with the inclusion of CgFX and ASHLI plug-ins, which allow hardware shaders for next-generation consoles to be previewed within Maya.
Maya 7 also helps artists optimize scenes without loss of visible detail through a new Surface Sampler, which utilizes normal mapping and other data transfer methods between models of differing resolutions.
"The surface sampler in Maya 7 is a major tool for us in generating next-gen console assets and the results have been outstanding," said Simon Kirk, technical artist at Eurocom, a UK-based game developer. "Not only is it handling our next-gen console requirements for high-quality normal maps, it is a great tool for baking textures back to low poly current-gen assets. Rock solid, fast and easy to use: who can ask for more?"
A powerful new Toon Shader leverages Maya's unique Paint Effects to support a wide range of non-photorealistic rendering styles; it affords extensive control over line style, placement and width, and features interactive previews in near realtime of even the most complex scenes.
Among the many enhancements in Maya Unlimited, Maya Hair can now be transplanted from one character to another, Maya Fur is now integrated with Maya's dynamic curve technology, and Maya Fluid Effects features a new High Detail solve mode for dramatically increased realism.
Maya Platinum Membership also offers extended hotline access and improved response times as well as early access to the Maya 7 upgrade, according to the company
Maya 7 is scheduled for release in August 2005; the pricing remains unchanged from Maya 6.5 with Maya Complete 7 priced at $2000 and Maya Unlimited 7 priced at $7,000. Upgrade pricing from 6.5 is $900 for Maya Complete and US $1250 for Maya Unlimited. Both Maya Complete and Unlimited are available on the Windows, Linux and Mac OS X platforms.