SIGGRAPH: Maya and XSI look to Linux, add new features

Following the recent announcement of Maya for Mac, both Alias|Wavefront and Softimage have let on that Linux versions of their flagship products are in the offing. Alias has formally announced its intention to port Maya to the Red Hat flavour of Linux. It will contain the same functionality as the NT and IRIX versions, and should ship at the same time as Maya for Mac in early 2001. Releases of Maya for Linux tweaked for other flavours of the OS are "likely", according to Alias – especially SGI Linux. SGI is Alias’s parent company and is creating a form of Linux as a long-term replacement from its IRIX proprietary OS. Softimage went both a step forward and a step back. The company showed off a version of XSI running on Red Hat Linux to its users group – but announced that it would not be shipping XSI for Linux "until a stable version for digital creatives appears". The company also ruled out a Mac OS X version until OS X is "well-established", accusing Apple of "continually moving the goalposts" to an extent that made development for the platform realistically impossible. On a more positive note, Softimage has announced version 1.5 of XSI. This is designed to add tools that users thought were missing from the first release – adding high-level polygonal-modelling tools, a UV editor, Web-based project tools and many improvements to the animation mixer. The company has also replaced missed functions from Softimage|3.9, such as the dopesheet and spreadsheet. At a basic level the animation mixer, clips can now be cut and trimmed as in a conventional editing package. At a higher level, a f-curve equalizer (EQ) has been added. This allows the strength of actions to be controlled as in a standard graphic equalizer – allowing actions to be replicated at different speeds and levels with extreme ease and speed. XSI 1.5 will be released as a free upgrade for 1.0 users with a maintenance contract. Alias|Wavefront countered with a sneak peek at new features likely to be available over the rest of the year as plug-ins downloadable from the company’s Web site. The main release shown was a fully-integrated 3D paint tool, allowing textures to be drawn onto objects with a brush.

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