News and Story - Autodesk releases Maya 8.5

Autodesk releases Maya 8.5, with major new features and animation speed boosts.
Tuesday, 15 January 2007

Autodesk has released Maya 8.5, bringing with it many improvements and additions to the 3D modeling, animation and visualization software. Available immediately, the new version boasts native performance in six platforms, including in Intel-based Mac OS X.

New features of this release include Maya nCloth, generated from modeled polygon meshes. Any standard polygon mesh can be converted into a Maya nCloth object. Maya nCloth will continue to permit functionality with the present Cloth module, and is the first Maya module built on the new Maya Nucleus unified simulation framework. “What I find most incredible in nCloth,” says Autodesk’s Rob Hoffman, “is its ability to define rips and tears in animated cloth. Also, a new air-pressure module allows the thickness of the surrounding atmosphere, even wind speed, to play a part in the animation.”

With Maya Nucleus, artists can shape and influence results toward a modeled target, even while the simulation is running. Multiple simulations can be blended together in the TRAX timeline to achieve an optimal single result. Since Maya Nucleus was constructed as an open system, with an API, it is intended to work with third-party or in-house plug-in solvers in the future. There is also improved support for CgFX hardware shading.

Python scripts
Also new in Maya 8.5, the industry-standard Python scripting language has now been fully integrated into the software. Python 2.4.3 can be used for plug-in development or as an alternative to the Maya Embedded Language (MEL) – in order to customize and automate Maya. Also introduces is support for the Intel-based Mac computers so Maya customers now have an even wider range of platform options. These key new features, along with a host of productivity-enhancing tools, make Autodesk Maya 8.5 software an essential release for any artist looking to complete complex animation and simulation tasks faster.

mental ray
mental ray has been given a complete overhaul, with UI and workflow improvements. A full batch of shaders for architectural and design projects, as well as physical sun and sky shaders, make accurate outdoor environments easy to create.

PLE and platforms
At last, Autodesk is back with Maya Complete, Unlimited and the long-awaited Personal Learning Edition (PLE). Also, the Windows XP Pro (SP2+), Linux 4.0 WS (U4), Linux 10.1 and Fedora Core 5 platforms are supported in the new May version 8.5 and are ready for 32-bit and 64-bit, while the Mac OS X 10.4.8 is available as a 32-bit release.

To the immense credit of the Autodesk crew, Maya 8.5 software pricing remains unchanged. Maya Complete (Standalone) is US$1,999, Maya Complete (Network) is US$2,999, Maya Unlimited (Standalone) is US$6,999, and Maya Unlimited (Network) is US$8,399. The upgrade price of Maya remains unchanged at US$899 for Maya Complete 8 (Standalone), US$1,069 for Maya Complete 8 (Network), US$1,249 for Maya Unlimited 8 (Standalone), and US$1,499 for Maya Unlimited 8 (Network). International pricing may vary.