3D Animation And Modeling Software - What is Autodesk Maya?
Autodesk Maya is an industry leading 3D animation software application developed by Autodesk that enables video professionals who work with animated film, television programs, visual effects, and video games to create highly professional three-dimensional (3D) cinematic animations.
Prior to two-dimensional (2D) and 3D animation software, manual hand animation tools such as drawing paper and pencils, erasers, paints and brushes, light tables, and transparencies only offered a subset of what can now be done with programs such as Maya. Maya 1.0 was originally developed and released in 1998 by Alias Wavefront and seven years later in 2005, Autodesk, Inc. acquired Maya and renamed it to "Autodesk Maya". Since its original release, Maya has become widely used in the film industry to create graphics for Academy Award winning films such as Rango and Hugo. Maya is also becoming more widely used in the video game industry to create visual effects for games such as Call of Duty and Halo. Maya includes MEL, short for Maya Embedded Language, and Python scripting, which both allow you to take advantage of its open architecture by programming complicated or repetitive commands. These programmed commands help to save valuable time and also offer a method of sharing them with others who might find them useful. In the film and television industry, Maya is the de facto standard for 3D visual effects, computer graphics, and character animation.
What are the benefits of using Maya?
Individuals who work in or are currently pursuing careers in the 3D animation, character modeling, visual effects, and other animation fields will discover many benefits of using Maya. The scene assembly and accelerated modeling workflows built into Maya not only maximize productivity but also help to streamline your design experience, putting creativity back at your fingertips while increasing efficiency. Complex animation tasks that are nearly impossible to construct by hand are easily created using Maya's robust tools. The grease pencil, automatic joint centering, camera sequencer, and weight distribution tools are just a few of the features that Maya offers to help animators focus more on the workflow and express more creatively. With Maya's enhanced Viewport 2.0 and DX11Shader (DirectX 11) rendering engine, blurred reflections and shader effects, as well as translucency, substance textures, and many other features can be worked with directly within the Maya viewport. 3D models and visual effects are rendered in real-time, allowing artists to work in an environment that nearly matches final output. Large and complex worlds are easily created and managed with Maya's Open Data platform, which handles production assets as discrete smart data elements and enables artists to quickly test different representations for the best result. Maya offers many other tools and features that can enhance productivity such as Volume Attributes, Paint Effects Surface, Clip Matching, URI Support, File Path Handling, PySide Pythod Qt Binding, Inline Help, and much more.
How is Maya used?
Maya is used by creative professionals across many industries to do everything from producing visual effects for promotional television commercials to creating complex animations and effects for Transformers: Dark of the Moon; a blockbuster film where over 30 stereoscopic 3D sequences were produced using Maya – including transformations of Autobots from common vehicles to robotic wonders as well as highly detailed facial animations of the robots. Maya has many uses and is even being leveraged by industries beyond the television and film fields. For example, video game companies may use the scene assembly and modeling tools within Maya to create realistic environmental elements such as trees, foliage, and rocks, as well as organic locations and terrain that are found in major game releases such as Medal of Honor and Uncharted. In the case of car design companies, Maya software may be used to create 3D concept models as well as detailed shape plans and interior design components that can then be shared with and reviewed by clients as digital prototypes. In the case of architectural design companies, Maya may be used to move beyond the typical architectural design and visualization limits by leveraging features such as Subdivision Surfacing modeling to create complex architectural forms with realistic programmatic elements. Ultimately, Maya enables companies to design and produce stunning 3D models, animations, and visual effects using its highly efficient and streamlined toolsets. This, in turn, increases productivity, enhances creativity for artists who want to push the envelope, and significantly reduces the time it takes to confidently finish complex projects.
Maya was originally a next-generation animation product based on code from The Advanced Visualizer by Wavefront Technologies, PowerAnimator by Alias Research, Inc., and Alias Sketch!. The code was ported to IRIX and animation features were added; the porting project codename was Maya. Walt Disney Feature Animation collaborated closely with Maya's development during its production of Dinosaur. Disney requested that the User interface of the application be customizable so that a personalized workflow could be created. This was a particular influence in the open architecture of Maya, and partly responsible for it becoming so popular in the industry.
After Silicon Graphics Inc. acquired both Alias and Wavefront Technologies, Inc., Wavefront's next-generation technology (then under development) was merged into Maya. SGI's acquisition was a response to Microsoft Corporation acquiring Softimage, Co.. The new wholly owned subsidiary was named "Alias|Wavefront".
In the early days of development, Maya started with Tcl as the scripting language, in order to leverage its similarity to a Unix shell language. But after the merger with Wavefront, Sophia, the scripting language in Wavefront's Dynamation, was chosen as the basis of MEL (Maya embedded language).
Maya 1.0 was released in February 1998. Following a series of acquisitions, Maya was bought by Autodesk in 2005.Under the name of the new parent company, Maya was renamed Autodesk Maya. However, the name "Maya" continues to be the dominant name used for the product.
On March 1, 2003, Alias was honored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with an Academy Award for Technical Achievement for scientific and technical achievement for their development of Maya software.
In 2005, while working for Alias|Wavefront, Jos Stam shared an Academy Award for Technical Achievement with Edwin Catmull and Tony DeRose for their invention and application of subdivision surfaces.
On February 8, 2008 Duncan Brinsmead, Jos Stam, Julia Pakalns and Martin Werner received an Academy Award for Technical Achievement for the design and implementation of the Maya Fluid Effects system.
Maya has been used to create graphics for many cinematic films with Pixar's Renderman, including the Academy Award winners, Monsters, Inc., The Matrix, Spider-Man, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Avatar (2009), Finding Nemo, Up, Hugo, Rango, and Frozen. It is also used to create visual effects for television programs, including Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Once Upon a Time, Bones, Futurama, Boardwalk Empire and South Park.
Maya was involved in creating the visual effects for video games, including Halo 4.
Maya is an application used to generate 3D assets for use in film, television, game development and architecture. The software was initially released for the IRIX operating system. However, this support was discontinued in August 2006 after the release of version 6.5. Maya was available in both "Complete" and "Unlimited" editions until August 2008, when it was turned into a single suite.
Users define a virtual workspace (scene) to implement and edit media of a particular project. Scenes can be saved in a variety of formats, the default being .mb (Maya Binary). Maya exposes a node graph architecture. Scene elements are node-based, each node having its own attributes and customization. As a result, the visual representation of a scene is based entirely on a network of interconnecting nodes, depending on each other's information. For the convenience of viewing these networks, there is a dependency and a directed acyclic graph.
Users who are students, teachers (or veterans or unemployed in USA markets) can download a full educational version from the Autodesk Education community. The versions available at the community are only licensed for non commercial use (once activated with the product license) and some products create watermarks on output renders. The software comes with a full 36 month license. Once it expires, users can log in to the community to request a new 36 months license and download the latest Autodesk product.
Additionally, a perpetual student license can be purchased for Maya. This license does not expire and the student version can be upgraded to the commercial version at a significant discount. It can be used even after the student graduates, the only restriction being non commercial use. No watermarks are created during output, making the student version of Maya suitable for portfolio creation. However, files saved with this version are recognized by all versions of Maya as files created by a student version. The perpetual student license also permits the creation of non commercial assets for non commercial use in game engines such as the Unreal Development Kit. The free student license does not allow this.
Autodesk supports the Windows (XP SP3 or later), Mac, and Linux platforms. As of Maya 2011, the software is 64-bit under Mac OS X.On Linux, the supported distributions are Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Fedora, 64-bit. While Autodesk acknowledges that the application may run on other distributions, it does not support them. Autodesk Maya 2012 is supported on Mac OS 10.6. Maya 2014 is supported on Mac OS 10.7 or 10.8. Maya 2015 is supported on 64-bit Microsoft Windows 7 (SP1), Windows 8 and 8.1 Professional. Maya 2015 is also compatible with Mac OS X 10.8.5 and 10.9.x.
Autodesk has published system requirements to run Maya with adequate performance. The specifications are identical for both x86 and x64 platforms. For Maya 2015 Autodesk calls for a minimum of 4GB of RAM and recommends 8GB.
Since its consolidation from two distinct packages, Maya and later contain all the features of the now defunct Unlimited suites.
A realistic fluid simulator based on simplified, incompressible Navier–Stokes equations for simulating non-elastic fluids was added in Maya 4.5. It is effective for smoke, fire, clouds and explosions, as well as many thick fluid effects such as water, magma or mud.
A dynamic cloth simulation tool set utilizing a planar pattern based workflow inspired by the process used to design real world garment patterns. In modern productions, the Maya Cloth module has been largely replaced by the faster, more flexible nCloth system introduced in version 8.5. Prior to this, third party plugins, most notably Syflex, were generally preferred for their superior performance, simulation stability and their polygon modeling based workflow already familiar to 3D artists.
Fur simulation designed for large area coverage of short hairs and hair-like materials. It can be used to simulate short fur-like objects, such as grass, carpet, etc. In contrast to Maya Hair, the Fur module makes no attempt to prevent hair-to-hair collisions. Hairs are also incapable of reacting dynamically to physical forces on a per hair basis. Physics-like effects are achieved through nearby fur effectors that approximate the effect of physical forces averaged over nearby follicles.
Hair simulator capable of simulating dynamic forces acting on long hair and per-hair collisions. Often used to simulate computationally complex human hair styles including pony tails, perms and braids. The simulation utilizes NURBS curves as a base which are then used as strokes for Paint Effects brushes thereby giving the curves a render time surface-like representation that can interact with light and shadow. A simulation on the curves alone for other, non-hair purposes (such as flexible tubing, cables, ropes, etc.) is often known simply as Dynamic Curves.
A set of motion tracking tools for CG matching to clean plate footage. It has been largely obsoleted by MatchMover.
Added in version 8.5, nCloth is the first implementation of Maya Nucleus, Autodesk's simulation framework. nCloth provides artist with detailed control of cloth and material simulations. Compared to its predecessor Maya Cloth, nCloth is a faster, more flexible and more robust simulation framework.
Added in version 2009, nParticle is addendum to Maya Nucleus toolset. nParticle is for simulating a wide range of complex 3D effects, including liquids, clouds, smoke, spray, and dust. nParticles are more flexible than Maya's previous particle system in that nParticles may be used to simulate viscous fluids as well as supporting true particle-to-particle collisions. nParticles also interact with the rest of the Nucleus simulation framework without the need for costly work-arounds and custom scripting.
Added to Maya 2010, this enables compositing of CGI elements with motion data from video and film sequences, a process known as Match moving or camera tracking. This is an external program but is shipped with Maya.
Added to Maya 2010, this was earlier sold as Autodesk Toxik. This is an external program but is shipped with Maya.
Added in Autodesk Maya 2011, Camera Sequencer is used to layout multiple camera shots and manage them in one animation sequence.
Maya Embedded Language
Alongside its more recognized visual workflow, Maya is equipped with a cross-platform scripting language, called Maya Embedded Language. MEL is provided for scripting and a means to customize the core functionality of the software, since many of the tools and commands used are written in it. Code can be used to engineer modifications, plug-ins or be injected into runtime. Outside these superficial uses of the language, user interaction is recorded in MEL, allowing even inexperienced users to implement subroutines. Scene information can thus be dumped, extension .ma, editable outside Maya in any text editor.