• Price: 1449 . 599 . 4899 . 849

  • Company: Autodesk

  • Pros: Useful improvements to features across modelling, rendering and UV editing. Still the all-round champ for character animation and effects work.

  • Cons: Fewer features than we’d like for a new version – considering the associated upgrade price. A few stability issues on non-certified systems.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

The latest release of Maya is the first version since Autodesk acquired Alias earlier this year. Autodesk has stressed that it would continue to develop Maya, but users are keen to see how Autodesk stamped its ownership on the product.

The company also produces 3DS Max, and there is considerable overlap between the two programs, though Maya’s prevalence in the film industry makes it a perfect partner for Autodesk’s high-end editing and finishing solutions.

Maya 8 doesn’t bring any drastic changes, and the new features aren’t exactly awe-inspiring either.

The main change from older versions is a new Menu scheme. The Modeling menu has been replaced by separate Polygon and Surfaces sets. This new scheme allows you to create custom menu sets with the Menu Set Editor.

Apart from that adjustment, visually there’s nothing that strikes you as different. In fact, this release is devoid
of any major new creative tools. Instead, there are a number of improvements and subtle changes that should make Maya 8 more productive for content creators. Perhaps the most important for studios is support for 64-bit operating systems (Linux and Windows).

 border=0 /><p>Image courtesy of Chez Eddy
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There are a few new modelling features that include improvements to the polygon and NURBS primitives. Previously, primitives were placed as you chose their menu item, typed a MEL command, or clicked a Shelf button. 
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Now, primitives can be drawn out interactively in the viewport. This makes it much quicker to create a lot of simple geometry of random sizes and different locations, since you just click-&-drag multiple times in the viewport where you want to place them. Holding the Shift key constrains the drawing to the object’s centre, while clicking without dragging creates a default primitive. 
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Each primitive’s Options can also be changed so that you can specify what the default size and resolution is. Primitives such as the Pipe, Cube, and Helix offer multiple dragging sessions so you can drag out the different radii or height interactively too. It’s the kind of basic functionality that has been in other applications, such as 3DS Max, for years.
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