• Price When Reviewed: 1750 . 775 . 4350 . 1575

  • Pros: Animation layers; nParticles and enhancements to nCloth; Soft Selection and other modelling enhancements; improved UV workflow.

  • Cons: Nucleus, Fluid Effects and so on only available in the much pricier Unlimited version; no 64-bit Mac version.

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

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Render passes are commonly used in the film and television VFX pipeline: the technique outputs separate shaders for a scene, offering more customization at the compositing stage. Support for render passes has been updated, and the new multi-render pass feature lets you render an unlimited number of render passes, grouped into render pass sets.

A sub-layer allows subsets of the objects or lights in a scene to be grouped together as render pass contribution maps, while still managing the main output process. Users with complex multi-layered compositions will probably see the greatest benefit.

Another new feature aimed at studios is Stereoscopic 3D. This technology is currently hot property
in the film world, so rendering support in Maya is hardly a surprise. Viewports now offer a stereoscopic viewer, featuring anaglyph, checkerboard and freeview stereoscopic modes to show what the scene will look like when the correct hardware and 3D glasses are used. It supports a three-camera setup allowing you to control the perceived 3D depth of the objects.

The new features make Maya an even more rounded and productive tool. The Nucleus framework continues to provide the wow factor – so it’s a pity it’s not available for everyone.

As before, there are two versions of the software: Maya Complete and the more comprehensive Maya Unlimited (at more than twice the price), but only the latter has access to Nucleus, Fluid Effects, Hair, Fur and Maya Live.