Autodesk has reduced the price of the Unlimited version of its modelling, animation and rendering software Maya, and introduced Maya 2008 Extension 2 software, which provides greater control over polygon modelling and UV texturing, as well as significant improvements to the Maya Muscle toolset.

"The reduced price of Autodesk Maya Unlimited makes its extensive toolset more accessible to new users and existing facilities that want to expand their Maya-based pipelines," said Marc Petit, senior vice president, Autodesk Media & Entertainment. "More artists can now take advantage of the software's professional tools and advanced workflows to meet demands for captivating content created on shorter deadlines and tighter budgets."

Maya Unlimited contains everything offered in Maya Complete software, plus Maya Fluid Effects, Maya nCloth, Maya Hair, Maya Fur, and Maya Live.

Maya Unlimited, Standalone has been reduced from £4,899 ($6,995 in the US) to £3,725 ($4,995). A licence for Maya Unlimited, Network has been reduced from £5,899 ($8,345) to £4,655 ($6,245).

Pricing for Autodesk Maya Complete remains unchanged though Maya Complete 2008 customers can now cross-grade to Maya Unlimited 2008 at the reduced price of £2,225 ($3,995).

Key features of Autodesk's new Maya 2008 Extension 2 include a superior modelling workflow, new selection management features, and enhanced symmetrical modelling with the addition of seam preservation functionality. Othe new features include faster texturing through streamlined UV workflows, new and enhanced UV workflow tools for greater more control over their texturing; and detailed skin articulation and animation. New features and enhanced workflows for Maya Muscle extend the animator or technical director's ability to precisely direct muscle and skin behaviour. These include a new smart collisions toolset, support for three new forces, and the ability to displace skin.

The new Maya 2008 Extension 2 software is expected to be available for download to Maya Complete 2008 and Maya Unlimited 2008 Autodesk Subscription customers with Gold support in March 2008. It will not be sold separately.