updated 01:21 pm EDT, Tue March 18, 2014
Softimage to be phased out
Autodesk has announced a slate of 2015-edition updates to its 3D animation programs, including 3ds Max, Maya, MotionBuilder, Mudbox, and Softimage. Perhaps the greatest focus is on Maya, which has been upgraded with features like the new Bifrost procedural effects system, the XGen arbitrary primitive generator for hair and vegetation, and geodesic voxel binding for character skinning. ShaderFX is a new node-based interface for shader programming, and the software also supports Pixar's OpenSubdiv libraries.
Maya LT 2015 is targeted at small game studios, and now has cloud integration for Dropbox and Autodesk 360 files, substance material integration, and Unfold 3D, which generates UV maps from 3D models.
3ds Max 2015 incorporates ShaderFX as well as performance improvements, an overhauled scene explorer, Python scripting, and point cloud dataset support for capture sessions, plus ActiveShade support for NVIDIA's mental ray renderer.
MotionBuilder has gained a Microsoft Kinect plugin, and Follow Focus and Animatable Depth of Field camera options. It now also comes with a library of 100 common animations that can reduce unnecessary work.
Mudbox enhancements include new Sculpt Layer and Paint Layer groups -- simplifying layer work in complex scenes -- as well as a caliper tool, and streamlined mesh refinement when retopologizing. Softimage has been given Alembic caching, ICE improvements, and animatable weight maps in Syflex cloth. This year is the last Softimage will be upgraded though, as Autodesk is planning to transition users over to its other apps.
The Autodesk Entertainment Creation Suite has been improved in several areas, mostly adding fresh links between Maya and Mudbox for image plane matching, exchanging Ptex and multi-tile UV textures, and sharing Blend Shapes. Game developers have meanwhile received tools like Beast 2015, HumanIK 2015, Gameware Navigation 2015, and Scaleform 4.4.
All of the new software should launch in the next few months.