Autodesk has released the 2013 editions of their Entertainment Creation Suites. This offers artists and production facilities access to a powerful range of creative toolsets. There are three editions that have been released – Standard, Premium, and Ultimate. With the Standard edition you get either Autodesk Maya or Autodesk 3ds Max as well as Autodesk MotionBuilder, Autodesk SketchBook Designer, and Autodesk Mudbox. The Premium edition additionally contains Autodesk Softimage. With the Ultimate edition you get all six of the products. I will cover all six products and will break this down into three reviews. The first will cover 3ds Max, and MotionBuilder, the second will cover Mudbox and Softimage, and the third will cover Maya, and SketchBook Designer.
Autodesk Maya is a 3D animation and 3D modeling software application that is used for simulation, visual effects, rendering, and compositing. It is used in the TV industry for shows like Sid the Kid – Jim Henson Company and Lost, major motion films like Avatar, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, and in the gaming industry for games like Medal of Honor and Resistance 2.
Maya is an integrated node-based software application for 3D digital animation and visual effects. Using Maya, you can create and edit 3D models in a variety of modeling formats and animate your models using a whole host of animation tools. Maya also provides the ability for you to render your animated 3D scenes to achieve photo realistic imagery and animated visual effects. Complete system requirements are located at the Autodesk site.
So what is new with Maya 2013?
• Maya nHair – now gives you the ability to produce more realistic hair as well as other curve-based dynamics. The new Maya nHair module for the Maya Nucleus unified simulation framework is fully integrated with other Nucleus modules. This means that nHair can interact bidirectionally with both Maya nCloth and Maya nParticles, enabling artists to create complex simulations with multiple dynamic entities all working together.
• Viewport 2.0 enhancements – include the addition of high-quality depth sorting, together with support for image planes and animation ghosting. It also offers a more functionally complete high-performance, high-quality viewport that allows artists to evaluate their work in a higher fidelity interactive environment in order to make better creative decisions. In addition, the same hardware rendering technology can be used to batch render larger-than-screen-size frames, producing high-quality animatics and pre-visualizations in less time.
• New Node Editor –contains three different levels of detail to help artists and technical directors to more easily create, edit, and debug node networks. The Drag-and-drop connection editing reduces dependence on the Connection Editor, enabling nodes to be rewired in a more intuitive environment, while color coding for different data types provides helpful information at a glance.
• Bullet Physics – will give you the ability to use the high-performance open source AMD Bullet Physics engine to simulate both soft and rigid bodies in a single system. This features discrete and continuous 3D collision detection, Bullet also enables artists working in both game development and visual effects to create highly realistic simulations of cloth, rope, deformable objects, and ragdoll skeletons. Bullet is available on Microsoft Windows (64-bit only), Linux, and Mac OS X operating systems. The OpenCL acceleration on Windows and Linux offers additional performance benefits on those platforms as well.
• Heat Map Skinning – provides the ability for the initial binding of geometry to skeletons to more accurate, requiring less manual refinement from the artist. This is due to a new Heat Map Skinning method that is better able to assign skin to the intended bone as opposed to an adjacent but unrelated one.
• Trax Clip matching – lets you more easily visualize how motions within two or more Trax clips match in order to adjust how they blend together. Clip Ghosts enable animators to view the start and end frames of clips as skeletal wireframes in the 3D view; clips can be manually matched with the help of these visual cues, or automatically matched using a choice of options for translation and rotation.