Autodesk has unveiled the latest version of its 3D modelling, animation and rendering suite, Maya 2014.
Maya 2014 software offers improved display technology, accelerated modeling workflows, robust new systems for handling complex data, and new creative toolsets.
As shown in the screenshot above, Autodesk says that artists can now take advantage of the power of Microsoft DirectX 11 software to help create and edit high-quality assets and images in less time, with the new Maya DX11Shader. The company says that this offers artists real-time, centralised, easy-to-control shader effects: crack-free tessellation, vector
displacement maps, translucence, reflections, and shadows. The DX11Shader is built with a new API that exposes DirectX 11 natively in Maya with HLSL (High Level Shading Language) support. As you'd expect, the DX11Shader is only available on the Windows version of Maya.
Building on technology from the NEX toolset from dRaster, Maya 2014 delivers an expanded, integrated modeling feature set that Autodesk says offers an accelerated workflow for modeling. A new Modeling Toolkit panel presents a streamlined environment that enables artists to access new selection, transformation, and mesh-editing tools in one place for increased efficiency.
There are topology-based Symmetry tools that enable artists to work on posed meshes; a Quad Draw tool that facilitates retopology workflows; and a Multi-Cut tool that combines both Split/Cut Faces and Insert Edge Loop tools in a single operation.
A new Polygon Reduction algorithm offers a faster and more efficient method for reducing mesh complexity by removing unneeded vertices without affecting the object’s basic shape.
Building on the Open Data platform, the Alembic open source exchange format, and File Referencing, Scene Assembly tools provide a mechanism for representing production assets in Maya as discrete elements, each with complete support for multiple representations. Artists can easily swap between different representations for example: varying levels of detail, enabling them to select the most appropriate compromise between fidelity and performance for the task at hand.
Edits can be applied, animated, or queried at any level in the scene assembly hierarchy, while overrides on Assemblies can be tracked via an improved Edits system, helping facilitate collaborative workflows across production departments. A robust API enables studios to customize the toolset to create completely proprietary solutions.
The Grease Pencil allows artists can draw directly into the viewport to capture poses at key frames, and view in-between transitions as cross-fades. The pencil strokes are automatically stored as an image plane sequence, enabling artists to use them as reference while creating 3D animation.
In addition, directors and other stakeholders can use the Grease Pencil to mark up performances and record their input in the form of notes for their animators, without themselves requiring knowledge of the 3D application.
Artists can now control how Paint Effects strokes react with surfaces, volumes, and each other.
Surface Snap helps make sure that tubes grow from the nearest point on the surface at their base. Surface Attract causes tubes to wrap around or cling to a surface. Surface Collide helps prevent tubes from interpenetrating surfaces, while Make Collide can be used to make Paint Effects strokes appear to be pushed by a surface. Occupation is based on a Space Colonization algorithm that helps avoid self-collisions, and can be used to cause tubes to grow over a surface or into a volume. Together, Autodesk says, these attributes can be used to more quickly and easily create a wide range of natural effects that would be very difficult and time-consuming to create with conventional methods.
Other new tools include an improved workflow, Viewport 2.0 and Node Editor enhancements, extended clip matching in Trax, a file path editor, URI support, joint centring and symmetry (above), and PySide support.
UK pricing hasn't been announced yet.
3ds Max 2014 also features new branding as part of Autodesk's new identity.