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Autodesk Reveals Maya 8.5 With Maya Nucleus, nCloth

Autodesk has announced Maya 8.5, the latest version of its animation, modeling and rendering software, including Python scripting support and a new Maya Nucleus "unified simulation framework", with new cloth simulation nCloth - on-site impressions within.

January 15, 2007

3 Min Read

Author: by Mathew Kumar, Simon Carless

Autodesk has officially announced Maya 8.5, the latest version of its animation, modeling and rendering software, including a new Maya Nucleus "unified simulation framework", revealing new cloth simulation nCloth and Python scripting, and Gamasutra has had a chance to get a demonstration of the new features. Specifically, Maya 8.5 includes Maya nCloth, which is the first module of Maya Nucleus. With Maya nCloth, artists can quickly direct and control a range of simulations, including cloth, plastic, metal and other materials. Believable cloth-on-cloth simulations with complex cloth collisions, such as a cape over a jacket, can be created more easily. A unique air-pressure model enables artists to use any geometry -- whether a closed, sealed volume such as an inner tube, or an open volume such as a balloon -- to create an inflatable object with internal and external pressure. Gamasutra reporter Mathew Kumar was present at a pre-announcement Autodesk demonstration of this technology in late 2006, when it was explained of the tech: "Nucleus is a unified dynamic solver based on particles". The demonstrator noted, "It can replicate anything made of matter. Rigid bodies, cloth, and even liquids." "The nice thing about Nucleus," Autodesk reps continued, "is that it is built as a stand alone library, but we are currently focusing on it as part of Maya. It's open, potentially, to be shared across the entire Autodesk product line." The demonstration went on to show how dynamic bodies could be created and manipulated in real time within the Maya interface, with objects given the properties of real world objects such as balloons and inflated and deflated, showing how possible it is to control the volume of an object in real time. "It's a particle based system, so it essentially gives you a full physical system to work with," the demonstrator described, before quickly turning two 3D primitives (a cylinder and a thin rectangle) into an attached curtain and a rod that reacted to being moved (with the curtain flapping realistically) and even across or against other objects (with the curtain deforming realistically against them) with variables such as the amount of stretch in the "fabric" of the object modifiable, all within Maya using the nCloth menu set. The potential of the Nucleus system was further shown by a short liquid demo, showing water working as a huge number of particles acting as a liquid, reacting against rigid and soft bodies of different masses, rolling across or around them. Also announced today is Python scripting, new in Maya 8.5. According to Autodesk reps, Python scripting offers a powerful alternative to Maya software's native scripting language, MEL, while featuring the same deep level of integration with the Maya command engine. Maya 8.5 is available as a Universal application release for Intel- and PowerPC-based Macintosh computers, as well as on the Microsoft Windows and Linux platforms. The software includes a number of new artist-driven features and performance optimizations. For a complete list of features in Maya 8.5, interested parties can visit the official Autodesk Maya website.

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