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Maya® 7 release

Posted: August 04, 2005
3D news
Los Angeles, California - SIGGRAPH® (Booth #1312) - July 31, 2005 - Maya® 7 software builds upon the architecture and performance enhancements in Maya 6.5 to deliver a feature-packed release offering new and improved tools for fast, realistic character animation, streamlined modeling and texturing, ground-breaking visual effects, and increased productivity. With the powerful new product features and the enhanced benefits of Maya Platinum Membership, including extended hotline access and improved response times, 3D professionals working in film, games, broadcast, digital publishing and design visualization are set to achieve more with the latest edition of this award-winning software.

"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."

Optimized Workflows for Rendering and Digital Publishing

One such customer-driven feature is a complete re-architecture of the Maya render layers functionality, which means that multiple versions of objects, including materials, lights and cameras, as well as post processes such as Maya Fur and Maya Paint Effects(tm), can now be managed in a single scene file.

"We have been an Alias customer for the past 13 years and in our opinion, Maya 7 is the biggest release we have ever seen," said Jonathan Brosseau, chief technology officer for Alpha Vision. "In the architectural visualization field, the 3D scenes tend to be very large and cumbersome, and we were truly blown away by the power and flexibility of the new Maya 7 render layer systems. Not only can we set specific attributes per layers on objects, shaders and lights, but we can also choose whatever renderer is required by a specific layer, all this within the same Maya scene. This makes it more convenient for us to use the power and continued integration of mental ray for Maya. Maya 7 is truly in another league."

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 boasts new functionality that streamlines the workflow between Maya and Photoshop - as well as Adobe Illustrator®, Alias MotionBuilder®, and popular CAD applications.

Animating Characters is Faster, Easier and More Accurate Than Ever

The integration of the industry-leading full-body IK solver from Alias MotionBuilder makes rigging and posing characters simpler and more precise, as do paintable Blend Shapes and Wire deformers. 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 that maximizes productivity.

New Tools Deliver Industry's Most Comprehensive Modeling and Texturing Feature Set

Maya 7 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(tm) and RenderMan® for Maya products," said Dana Batali, director of RenderMan product development at Pixar Animation Studios.

Features Requested and Refined by Leading Games Developers

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?"

Innovative Visual Effects and Illustration Tools Extend Maya's Leadership

Developed by Alias' principal scientist Duncan Brinsmead, an incredibly 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 real-time 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(tm) benefits from a new High Detail solve mode for dramatically increased realism.

Maya Platinum Members Get the Most out of Maya

The features and services of the Maya Platinum Membership program help maximize an investment in Maya. Members will experience minimal downtime with the improved delivery of hotline support. Resources have now been dedicated solely to tracking hotline cases and ensuring quick response times. Through the months of September and October 2005, Platinum members can take advantage of an interactive Web-based Maya 7 training call. This is in addition to receiving early access to the Maya 7 upgrade - a distinctive competitive advantage.

Pricing and Availability

Maya 7 is scheduled for release in August 2005 and pricing remains unchanged from Maya 6.5 - Maya Complete 7 is US $1999* and Maya Unlimited 7 is US $6999*. Upgrade pricing from 6.5 is US $899* for Maya Complete and US $1249* for Maya Unlimited. Both Maya Complete and Unlimited are available on the Windows®, Linux® and Mac OS® X platforms.

* International pricing may vary.
Posted: August 04, 2005
3D news
Beveling for Adobe Illustrator Files, with History - Text can now be created as beveled geometry. Because history is maintained, the beveling setup stays the same downstream, even if the text itself changes. Also new, is the "Adobe Illustrator Object" menu that allows you
to bring in Adobe(r) Illustrator files into Maya, and Maya will automatically bevel the text.

Enhanced Character Animation Tools and Topology Propagation for Blend Shapes - This new tool allows for editing and creating new blendshapes from existing targets. Also, the new "Bake Topology to Targets" feature allows for quick
and easy updates on existing targets. There is also the new "Split Edge Ring" tool that inserts edges in the same manner as isoparms are inserted on NURBS surfaces.

Full Body IK - The new "Full Body IK" feature now affects the entire rig when you pull on one joint to give realistic posing. Also, "floor contacts" automatically adjusts the rig so you don't have to remember the contact points when posing your character.

Arbitrary Styling and Dynamic Guide Curves Using Hair - Dynamic hair curves can now be used to drive fur systems.

Ability to Transplant Hair - The new "Transplant Hair" feature allows for quick translations of default
hairstyles onto characters and surfaces. Also new, is the "Start Curve Attract" feature that allows for control over the dynamic movement of the Hair system.

Modifier Objects for Paint Effects - Animators can now create spherical or cuboid modifier objects to control various aspects of a Paint Effects stroke.

Surface Sampler - The all new "Surface Sampler Window" allows you to modify options when outputting normal maps.

3D Paint/Photoshop Roundtrip - Procedural textures can now be converted to image files to allow for
painting and editing afterwards. Also new, is the ability to start up Adobe Photoshop(r) within Maya in the "Create PSD Network" option. The new PSD layered file format will produce a .psd file with individual elements on independent layers when you batch render scene files.

Render Layers to SWFT (Flash smart layers) - New Swift3Dimporter (swft) file format allows for direct export of separate render passes in Maya(r) to Flash MX.

Render Layers - The new features in "render layers" include overrides applied on geometry exclusive of specific layers. Also new, are overrides per layer in the Render Global settings, as well as render flag overrides.

Screen Space Width Controls for Maya Paint Effects - Corrects outlines so that they remain proportional whether up-close or far away.

Substitute Geometry - The new "Substitute Geometry" feature allows for geometry updates on rigged surfaces. In addition, the new "View Compass" feature provides a way to navigate in all camera views, including an animated zoom "in" and "out".

Toonshader - The all new toonshader in Maya features various styles and types of fill colours. You can preview and edit lighting, and work with shading and outlines in the hardware render view for immediate feedback.