Price: 3050 . 3815 . 850
Pros: pros: Toxik and Matchmover for comprehensive CG pipeline; stereoscopic workflow; mocap and nParticles in Visor; expression-driven animation layers.
Cons: Limited range of new features; Unified suite expensive for entry level users; Toxik needs facelift; more expensive for UK users.
Maya is one of the few high-end 3D tools available on the Mac. We tested Maya 2010 on a multiprocessor Vista workstation and an Intel MacBook Pro – apart from rendering speeds there wasn’t much in it.
Maya takes advantage of multiprocessor systems such as these, with the ability to write multithreading plugins within
the Maya API to take advantage of parallel processing.
Although Maya already has a matchmoving component – Maya Live – the bundled MatchMover, formed out of the Autodesk purchase of Realviz’s products last year, is more advanced. For example, we used automatic tracking to let MatchMover select the best location to place track points in the image sequence.
It displayed these as an array of crosshairs superimposed on the footage.
A 3D view option displays the tracking points as a cloud of 3D cones – all the better for checking the quality of the tracking before exporting into Maya. It’s fast and straightforward to use – and there’s also a motion-capture module allowing you to capture data from a non-rigid bodies, such as humans, or cloth objects.
CG and VFX created in Maya by The Mill
Compositing comes to Maya in the shape of the bundled Toxik application, which has been killed off as a standalone product and renamed Maya Composite. The new integration adds the ability to export render passes as a pre-comp file from Maya then generate and pre-visualize compositions in Maya Composite. Maya Composite also provides support for stereoscopic content creation and can import geometry using the FBX file format.
Autodesk needs to add a ‘minimise‘ button, though – Maya Composite currently takes over the whole screen space when running.
Maya 2010 has more than a whiff of a rebranding release, but this version signals that Maya is heading in a film and VFX direction. Let’s hope Autodesk doesn’t price it out of the reach of UK users who don’t own studios.