Autodesk Maya 2009

This past year was a very busy period for Autodesk, which has added a few new jewels to its crown while keeping on top of its own current slate for products. One of the company’s more recent releases has been Maya 2009, and I am happy to report that among the plethora of seemingly minor changes in workflow, additions to modeling and selection tools and optimizing some of the code (all very important), there have also been a few of the more sexy features incorporated that make being a 3D artist even more fun than it was before.

The first large tag item on the list would be the implementation of Animation Layers’or at least a better implementation of the idea which had been utilized in the Trax system. Maya took a clue from its sister software Motion Builder (also reviewed in this issue) and utilized the technology that had been developed to create a system where an animator can non-destructively adjust animation by layering motions on top of one another. This is not a new paradigm in the animation world by any means, but Maya has a new interface for managing the layers effectively.

To go along with our new animation tools is a Muscle System for rigging complex systems in characters to get more realism in your animation in a procedural way. Muscle systems can be added to rigs to provide bulging and contracting during character motion. Parameters can be weighed for precise control of where and how the actions occur. On top of the muscles themselves, a skin deformer is used to essentially wrap the muscles. Skin can slide over or stick to the muscles underneath, while new collision tools are included to prevent intersecting.

Finally, Maya has taken its nCloth technology and applied it to Particles called’appropriately enough’nParticles! The nParticles are superior to the previous ‘dumb’ particles in many ways: Collisions between particles and particle systems can happen. nParticles can affect nCloth simulations and vice versa. And, nParticles can be assigned liquid attributes for calculating’wait for it’liquids. It’s a nice addition to the Maya particle toolset. I am curious to find out where nParticles are going to be placed in the grand scheme of things in future releases.

Website: autodesk.com

Price: Maya 2009 Unlimited: $4,995

Maya Unlimited Upgrade from 2008: $1,795

Maya 2009 Complete: $1,995

Maya Complete Upgrade from 2008: $895