Autodesk Maya 2010

Back around SIGGRAPH this year, which in CG time is a LONG time ago, Autodesk released Maya 2010 with a plethora of other Autodesk acquisitions. Within that release were some internal advances’animation constraints could be used in layers, Python was updated, and a couple of other little tidbits. A whole lot of new tutorials were thrown into the mix to bring you up to speed faster. And, notably, they expanded the number of mental ray licenses that come bundled in with the workstation license (6 per ‘ 1 interactive, 5 batch). But really the main reason to justify a new release for the year is all the additional software packages that Autodesk injected into the Maya bundle. This doesn’t include the Universal package, which also incorporates the 2010 versions of Mudbox and MotionBuilder. Now with Maya 2010 comes Toxik, Backburner and Matchmover.

Backburner has been around for a long time, initially being the render manager for Discreet’s Flame and Inferno and other flammable namesakes. When Discreet acquired 3D Studio MAX from Kinetix, the 3D package was rolled into the mix, and Backburner became the manager of choice for smaller shops. With Discreet’s absorption into Autodesk, Backburner migrated with all the other products.

Maya has finally come into the loop. And I have to say, with Rush, Backburner, Alfred and whatnot, it was Backburner that saved us in a pinch on a recent project. It may be small, but it gets the job done.

Matchmover for all intents and purposes replaces MayaLive, which honestly paled in functionality to Boujou, PFTrack and SynthEyes. But Matchmover, acquired with REALVIZ, is a powerful tracker and a really nice addition to the Autodesk library.

Finally, Toxic adds a full, robust compositing system right into the mix with nice tools to utilize mental ray passes coming out of Maya, as well as 3D data. They tried this in the past with Digital Fusion (cleverly called Maya Fusion), but that lasted about eight minutes. I have high hopes and have seen it in action with good results.

I like Maya, and I like the incorporation of the new stuff. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed by this release. It’s akin to buying a new car, and hoping for a more powerful engine, but ending up getting a new GPS, MP3 player and stateof- the-art seat heaters. The advances are noteworthy, but there just simply isn’t enough groundbreaking technology to justify a full point release.

Website: www.autodesk.com

Price: $3,495