Alias|Wavefront has announced the next version of its flagship 3D modelling, animation and rendering suite, Maya. As expected, version 4.0 eschews whiz-bang new features in favour of workflow enhancements. Workflow will be controlled using a customizable layout and toolbar controls. According to the company, object placement will be faster using a new lasso select that includes incremental rotate, snapping and alignment. Also added is quick access to Paint Effects brushes and a shader library. Maya 4 has also had its rendering performance boosted. Alias claims the selective use of Intel’s Optimising Compiler gives Maya 4 a general speed boost of between five and 10 per cent on Pentium III and a boost of around 15 per cent for heavy-duty scenes featuring items such as subdivision surfaces and particles. Pentium 4 users should see general speed improvements of 15 to 20 per cent on Maya 3. Other performance improvements include an enhanced hypershade, pre-render optimization and automatic alpha for transparency on file and layered textures. Output image quality should be higher as well – with bump mapping, texture filtering and tessellation all being enhanced. Maya 4’s animation tools will include a jiggle deformer for secondary fat/muscle wobble – as well as easy FK/IK switching, quaternion-based IK, motion trails and ghosting. The Trax non-linear animation system will include time warping, character merging, drag-&-drop and character set editing. Paint Effects will work with multiple processors, as well as being able to automatically paint large areas as a fill. There are 35 new brushes and all brushes can be used for 3D paint. Other new features include games-related features (such as polygon texture mapping and editing) and the recently announced Maya Shockwave 3D Exporter for creating online 3D worlds and models. Maya 4 will ship in June for Windows, IRIX, Linux and Mac OS X. It will cost the same as Maya 3: £6,360 for Maya Complete, £13,560 for Maya Unlimited and £2,580 for Maya Builder. Upgrade prices have not yet been announced.