Alias has rounded off the upgrades to all of the major high-end 3D tools with the announcement of version 7 of its Maya suite.

Maya 7 features a redesigned render layers function, which lets multiple versions of objects, including materials, lights and cameras, post processes like Maya Fur and Paint Effects, be managed in a single scene file. Render layers can be rendered with any renderer integrated with Maya, including the latest mental ray for Maya. this better prepares renders for output to their compositor like Photoshop or Flash.

Strike a pose

MotionBuilder's "IK Solver" is now integrated into Maya, to make it easier to rig and pose characters, do paintable Blend Shapes and Wire deformers and more. You can also substitute geometry to allow modelers, animators and technical directors to work on the same character simultaneously and non-destructively.

Maya 7 adds Renderman-compatible variable creasing on subdivided polygon meshes. Many changes have been made to cater to games developers like Edge Loop and Edge Ring tools, UV unfolding, triplanar and multimesh mapping, the inclusion of CgFX and ASHLI plug-ins and more.

A new Toon Shader supports non-realistic rendering styles and lets you control line style, placement and width and view interactive previews in near real-time. Maya Hair can now be transplanted from one character to another, Maya Fur is now integrated with Maya's dynamic curve technology, and Maya Fluid Effects adds a High Detail solve mode to increase the realistic effects it can produce.

Maya 7 will ship in August for £1,449 plus VAT for the Complete version and £4,899 plus VAT for the Unlimited version. Upgrades from Maya 6.5 cost £659 plus VAT for Maya Complete, £909 plus VAT for Maya Unlimited. It's available on Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows platforms.