Autodesk Maya

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Autodesk Maya
Logo of Maya.png
Original author(s)Alias Systems Corporation
Developer(s)Autodesk, Inc.
Initial releaseFebruary 1998; 20 years ago (1998-02)
Stable release
2018.4 / August 14, 2018; 3 months ago (2018-08-14)
Written inC++,[1] MEL, Python,[2] C#
Operating system
PlatformIA-32, x64
Available inEnglish, Japanese, Chinese
Type3D computer graphics

Autodesk Maya, commonly shortened to Maya /ˈmə/,[3][4] is a 3D computer graphics application 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 IRIX-based projects were combined and animation features were added; the project codename was Maya.[5] Walt Disney Feature Animation collaborated closely with Maya's development during its production of Dinosaur.[6] 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".[7]

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).[8]

Maya 1.0 was released in February 1998. Following a series of acquisitions, Maya was bought by Autodesk in 2005.[9][10] 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.[11]

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.[12][13]

Industry usage[edit]

Maya was used extensively in the production of:


Television series

Video games

Maya has also been used in the Rooster Teeth animated web-series RWBY since 2016, although some of the series' sets, characters, and props, were made in Maya before Volume 4 was released.[30]


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.[31]

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.[32] 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.[33]


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[34] 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[35] 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.[36] 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[edit]

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[edit]

Autodesk Maya 2018 is supported on the following 64-bit operating systems: Windows (Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 10), macOS (OS X 10.11.x and macOS 10.12.x), Red Hat Enterprise Linux (6.5 and 7.2 WS) and Linux CentOS (6.5 and 7.2).

The last version to support both 32 and 64 bit operating systems was version 2013.

Support for Silicon Graphics IRIX was dropped after version 6.5 and openSUSE Linux support was dropped in Maya 2009.[37]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "C++ Applications". Retrieved December 16, 2016.
  2. ^ Baas, Matthias (May 8, 2006). "Python/Maya: Introductory tutorial". Archived from the original on November 15, 2010. Retrieved December 10, 2010.
  3. ^ "Maya 2017 Overview". Autodesk. Retrieved May 18, 2018.
  4. ^ "Maya LT 2018 – Overview". Autodesk. Retrieved May 18, 2018.
  5. ^ "History". Maya books. Archived from the original on November 25, 2010. Retrieved December 11, 2010.
  6. ^ Muwanguzi, Michael J (July 1, 2010). "Maya 2011" (Software Review). Microfilmmaker Magazine. Retrieved December 11, 2010.
  7. ^ Weisbard, Sam (December 13, 2002). "Wavefront Discontinued Products and Brands". Alias. Design engine. Retrieved December 10, 2010.
  8. ^ Sharpe, Jason; Lumsden, Charles J; Woolridge, Nicholas (2008), In silico: 3D animation and simulation of cell biology with Maya and MEL, Morgan Kaufmann Martin, p. 263, ISBN 0-12-373655-2
  9. ^ Autodesk (October 4, 2005). "Autodesk Signs Definitive Agreement to Acquire Alias". Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  10. ^ Wikinews:Autodesk to buy Alias
  11. ^ "PIXAR Awards". Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved November 15, 2011.
  12. ^ "Scientific & Technical Awards Winners". January 6, 2003. Archived from the original on February 16, 2009. Retrieved December 10, 2010.
  13. ^ "Technical Achievement Award". January 6, 2003. Retrieved December 10, 2010.
  14. ^ "Bringing Narnia's fantasy world to life". Autodesk.
  15. ^ "Autodesk – Mokko Studio: Silent Hill". Autodesk.
  16. ^ "Animators Catch a Wave in Surf's Up". Autodesk. Retrieved February 21, 2017.
  17. ^ "More Than Meets the Eye". Autodesk. Retrieved February 21, 2017.
  18. ^ "Framestore CFC". Autodesk. Retrieved February 21, 2017.
  19. ^ "The Way of the Weird" (PDF). Autodesk Maya.
  20. ^ "Creating the Post-Apocalyptic World of "9"" (PDF). Autodesk Maya. Autodesk. Retrieved February 21, 2017.
  21. ^ "Invisible FX" (PDF). Autodesk Maya. Autodesk. Retrieved March 6, 2017.
  22. ^ "Lone wolves" (PDF). Autodesk Maya. Retrieved February 15, 2017.
  23. ^ "Lucasfilm and Autodesk "Transform" Asia's Motion Picture Industry" (PDF). Autodesk Maya. Autodesk. Retrieved February 21, 2017.
  24. ^ "Moving mountains for Harry" (PDF). Autodesk Maya. Autodesk. Retrieved March 2, 2017.
  25. ^ "FAQ: Do you still use construction paper to animate the show?". South Park Studios. South Park Digital. Retrieved February 23, 2017.
  26. ^ "BIG Animation Brings Little Krishna Cartoon Series to Screen with Autodesk Software" (PDF). Autodesk Maya. Autodesk. Retrieved February 21, 2017.
  27. ^ Martin McEachern (April 2004). "Crash Course". Computer Graphics World. Retrieved October 30, 2018.
  28. ^ "Autodesk – Strangle Hold: Midway Games creates the video game sequel to the John Woo film "Hard Boiled"". Autodesk. Retrieved February 21, 2017.
  29. ^ "The Making of "Halo 4" – A Hero Awakens". Retrieved December 3, 2013.
  30. ^ [1]
  31. ^ "Autodesk Maya Features – Compare".
  32. ^ "Autodesk Education community". Archived from the original on April 20, 2012.
  33. ^ "Autodesk Education community FAQ".
  34. ^ "Autodesk Maya 2013 Online Docs". Autodesk. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  35. ^ "Bifröst Overview and Concepts". Autodesk. Retrieved July 27, 2015.
  36. ^ "Auto desk acquires Naiad fluid simulation technology from Exotic Matter". Autodesk. Retrieved July 27, 2015.
  37. ^ "Operating system compatibility for Autodesk Maya – Maya – Autodesk Knowledge Network". Retrieved December 16, 2016.

External links[edit]