Alias Wavefront has announced Maya 4, the sixth major release of its professional 3D animation and visual effects software. This major new release hosts myriad enhancements and optimizations that Alias|Wavefront intends to improve the product's overall ease-of-use and efficiency throughout -- most particularly in the areas of rendering, character animation, brush and paint tools, and games related functionality. Maya is currently available on Windows, IRIX, Linux, and soon Mac OS X.
Maya 4 was designed with a focus on ease of use and general usability. Managing the workspace is now accomplished in one click using the customizable panel layouts and toolbar controls. Object placement is faster using the new lasso select, and incremental rotate, snapping and alignment tool. Quick access to the expanded Paint Effects brushes and the new shader library gives users a quick, efficient method of launching into production. Beyond UI, Maya 4 has enhanced context sensitive help and Instant Maya books with easy-to-follow examples.
Maya 4 rendering optimizations include selective use of the Intel Optimizing Compiler that has resulted in performance gains from 5% to 20%. Workflow enhancements include an improved hypershade, pre-render optimization and automatic alpha for transparency on file and layered textures. Enhancements to bump mapping, texture filtering, and tessellation provide notable advances in image quality.
Animation enhancements to the Trax non-linear motion editing technology include time warping, character merging, drag and drop and character set editing. New character animation features include easy FK/IK switching, quaternion-based IK, motion trails and ghosting along with a powerful new Jiggle Deformer which automatically creates secondary ``character fat/muscle wobble'' animation without dynamics.
The Maya Paint Effects technology has been enhanced with multi-processor support for painting and rendering, new auto-paint functionality for filling large areas with ease, and 35 new preset brushes to compliment the existing 400.
Beyond the character and animation enhancements, Maya 4 incorporates numerous advances in areas crucial to the development of next-generation games, including numerous advances in the area of polygon texture mapping and editing.
Maya Complete 4 will be priced at $7,500 and Maya Unlimited 4 will be $16,000. Maya 4 is scheduled to ship in June 2001.