|Original author(s)||Alias Systems Corporation|
|Initial release||February 1998|
2017 / July 26, 2016
|Written in||C++, MEL, Python, C#|
|Available in||English, Japanese, Chinese|
|Type||3D computer graphics|
Autodesk Maya //, commonly shortened to Maya, is a 3D computer graphics software that runs on Windows, macOS and Linux, originally developed by Alias Systems Corporation (formerly Alias|Wavefront) and currently owned and developed by Autodesk, Inc. It is used to create interactive 3D applications, including video games, animated film, TV series, or visual effects.
Maya was originally a next-generation animation product based on code from The Advanced Visualizer by Wavefront Technologies, PowerAnimator by Alias Research, Inc., and Alias Sketch!. The code was ported to IRIX and animation features were added; the porting project codename was Maya. Walt Disney Feature Animation collaborated closely with Maya's development during its production of Dinosaur. Disney requested that the User interface of the application be customizable so that a personalized workflow could be created. This was a particular influence in the open architecture of Maya, and partly responsible for it becoming so popular in the animation industry.
After Silicon Graphics Inc. acquired both Alias and Wavefront Technologies, Inc., Wavefront's next-generation technology (then under development) was merged into Maya. SGI's acquisition was a response to Microsoft Corporation acquiring Softimage, Co.. The new wholly owned subsidiary was named "Alias|Wavefront".
In the early days of development, Maya started with Tcl as the scripting language, in order to leverage its similarity to a Unix shell language. But after the merger with Wavefront, Sophia, the scripting language in Wavefront's Dynamation, was chosen as the basis of MEL (Maya embedded language).
Maya 1.0 was released in February 1998. Following a series of acquisitions, Maya was bought by Autodesk in 2005. Under the name of the new parent company, Maya was renamed Autodesk Maya. However, the name "Maya" continues to be the dominant name used for the product.
On March 1, 2003, Alias was honored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with an Academy Award for Technical Achievement for scientific and technical achievement for their development of Maya software.
In 2005, while working for Alias|Wavefront, Jos Stam shared an Academy Award for Technical Achievement with Edwin Catmull and Tony DeRose for their invention and application of subdivision surfaces.
On February 8, 2008 Duncan Brinsmead, Jos Stam, Julia Pakalns and Martin Werner received an Academy Award for Technical Achievement for the design and implementation of the Maya Fluid Effects system.
Maya has been extensively used in the films The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005), Silent Hill (2006), Surf's Up (2007), Transformers (2007), The Golden Compass (2007), Monsters vs. Aliens (2009), 9 (2009), Alpha and Omega (2010), Salt (2010), Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011), the television series South Park (2001–present) and Little Krishna (2009), and the video games Stranglehold (2007) and Halo 4 (2012).
Maya is an application used to generate 3D assets for use in film, television, game development and architecture. The software was initially released for the IRIX operating system. However, this support was discontinued in August 2006 after the release of version 6.5. Maya was available in both "Complete" and "Unlimited" editions until August 2008, when it was turned into a single suite.
Users define a virtual workspace (scene) to implement and edit media of a particular project. Scenes can be saved in a variety of formats, the default being .mb (Maya D). Maya exposes a node graph architecture. Scene elements are node-based, each node having its own attributes and customization. As a result, the visual representation of a scene is based entirely on a network of interconnecting nodes, depending on each other's information. For the convenience of viewing these networks, there is a dependency and a directed acyclic graph.
Users who are students, teachers (or veterans or unemployed in USA markets) can download a full educational version from the Autodesk Education community. The versions available at the community are only licensed for non commercial use (once activated with the product license) and some products create watermarks on output renders. The software comes with a full 36 month license. Once it expires, users can log into the community to request a new 36 months license and download the latest Autodesk product.
Since its consolidation from two distinct packages, Maya and later contain all the features of the now defunct Unlimited suites.
- Fluid Effects
- A realistic fluid simulator based on simplified, incompressible Navier–Stokes equations for simulating non-elastic fluids was added in Maya 4.5. It is effective for smoke, fire, clouds and explosions, as well as many thick fluid effects such as water, magma or mud.
- Bifröst is a computational fluid dynamics framework based on fluid-implicit particle simulation. It is available in Maya 2015 and later, following the acquisition of Naiad fluid simulation technology from Exotic Matter. Bifröst allows liquids to be modelled realistically, including details such as foam, waves and droplets.
- Classic Cloth
- A dynamic cloth simulation tool set utilizing a planar pattern based work flow inspired by the process used to design real world garment patterns. In modern productions, the Maya Cloth module has been largely replaced by the faster, more flexible nCloth system introduced in version 8.5. Prior to this, third party plug-ins, most notably Syflex, were generally preferred for their superior performance, simulation stability and their polygon modeling based workflow already familiar to 3D artists.
- Fur simulation designed for large area coverage of short hairs and hair-like materials. It can be used to simulate short fur-like objects, such as grass and carpet. In contrast to Maya Hair, the Fur module makes no attempt to prevent hair-to-hair collisions. Hairs are also incapable of reacting dynamically to physical forces on a per hair basis. Physics-like effects are achieved through nearby fur effectors that approximate the effect of physical forces averaged over nearby follicles.
- Hair simulator capable of simulating dynamic forces acting on long hair and per-hair collisions. Often used to simulate computationally complex human hair styles including pony tails, perms and braids. The simulation utilizes NURBS curves as a base which are then used as strokes for Paint Effects brushes thereby giving the curves a render time surface-like representation that can interact with light and shadow. A simulation on the curves alone for other, non-hair purposes (such as flexible tubing, cables, ropes, etc.) is often known simply as Dynamic Curves.
- Maya Live
- A set of motion tracking tools for CG matching to clean plate footage. It has been largely obsoleted by MatchMover.
- Added in version 8.5, nCloth is the first implementation of Maya Nucleus, Autodesk's simulation framework. nCloth provides artist with detailed control of cloth and material simulations. Compared to its predecessor Maya Cloth, nCloth is a faster, more flexible and more robust simulation framework.
- Added in version 2009, nParticle is an addendum to Maya Nucleus toolset. nParticle is for simulating a wide range of complex 3D effects, including liquids, clouds, smoke, spray, and dust. nParticles are more flexible than Maya's previous particle system in that nParticles may be used to simulate viscous fluids as well as supporting true particle-to-particle collisions. nParticles also interact with the rest of the Nucleus simulation framework without the need for costly work-arounds and custom scripting.
- Added to Maya 2010, this enables compositing of CGI elements with motion data from video and film sequences, a process known as match moving or camera tracking. This is an external program but is shipped with Maya.
- Added to Maya 2010, this was earlier sold as Autodesk Toxik. This is an external program but is shipped with Maya.
- Camera Sequencer
- Added in Autodesk Maya 2011, Camera Sequencer is used to lay out multiple camera shots and manage them in one animation sequence.
Maya Embedded Language
Alongside its more recognized visual workflow, Maya is equipped with a cross-platform scripting language, called Maya Embedded Language. MEL is provided for scripting and a means to customize the core functionality of the software, since many of the tools and commands used are written in it. Code can be used to engineer modifications, plug-ins or be injected into runtime. Outside these superficial uses of the language, user interaction is recorded in MEL, allowing even inexperienced users to implement subroutines. Scene information can thus be dumped, extension .ma, editable outside Maya in any text editor.
Supported operating systems
Autodesk Maya 2016 is supported on 64-bit Windows (Windows 7 (SP1) or later), macOS (OS X 10.9.5 or later), and Linux (RedHat Enterprise Linux 6.5 WS or CentOS 6.5) platforms. Support for Silicon Graphics IRIX was dropped after version 6.5 and openSUSE Linux support was dropped in Maya 2009.
- 3D computer graphics software
- Comparison of 3D computer graphics software
- List of Maya plugins
- Autodesk 3ds Max
- Autodesk Softimage
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