Autodesk Inc. unveiled the 2015 versions of its popular 3D animations tools: Autodesk 3ds Max, Maya, MotionBuilder, Mudbox, Softimage, and the newest addition to the lineup, Maya LT, a 3D animation and modeling tool for professional indie game makers. Autodesk also announced the availability of the 2015 Entertainment Creation Suite for 3D animation and visual effects.
Creating animation today is increasingly complex as consumer demand for bigger, better, more sophisticated computer graphics (CG) continues to rise. Autodesk 2015 animation software aims to provide the right tools for a 3D animation project. Every animation product has updates to enable artists to better manage complex projects and large data sets, while helping stay on schedule and on budget. Artists now have access to a variety of features ranging from high fidelity interactive viewports, “a what you see is what you get” work environment and single-click, cross-product workflows and ability to use low-cost consumer devices to capture body movements.
Ushering in the new era in 3D animation production Highlights of the 2015 releases are:
— Autodesk Maya 2015 software adds new capabilities to the toolset such as the new Bifrost procedural effects platform which provides an extensible, artist-friendly workflow for complex simulation and rendering tasks, initially applied to near photorealistic liquids; XGen Arbitrary Primitive Generator for the easy creation of richly detailed geometry such as hair, fur, and foliage; Geodesic Voxel Binding method for skinning characters; ShaderFX, a new node-based visual interface for shader programing; support for Pixar’s OpenSubdiv libraries; enhanced polygon modeling tools; and expanded UV options;
— Autodesk 3ds Max 2015 software has been extended and redesigned to help improve performance, ease-of-use and management of complex scenes. New in 2015 is ShaderFX, a new node-based visual interface that allows game artists and programmers to more easily create advanced HLSL viewport shaders; point cloud dataset support for reality capture workflows; new viewport performance optimizations; a redesigned scene explorer to make it easier for artists to manage large scenes; ActiveShade support for the NVIDIA mental ray renderer; and new Python scripting support – a highly requested user feature for pipeline integration;
— Autodesk MotionBuilder 2015 provides several features that advance motion capture workflow accessibility such as: a new plug-in for Microsoft Kinect to help capture body movements for use in MotionBuilder, Animatable Depth of Field and Follow Focus camera options to recreate elements of real-world cinematography, a robust content library with 100 commonly required character animations in the Autodesk FBX format and flexible marker assignment to adjust character positions;
— Autodesk Mudbox 2015 software boasts streamlined mesh refinement for retopologizing and new Sculpt Layer and Paint Layer groups for organizing and identifying particular layers in complex scenes. The release also has advanced interoperability with Maya 2015, an enhanced texture export and updating workflow, new caliper tool and support for Intel HD graphics 4000 on compatible Windows 8 operating system hybrid tablet/PCs;
— Autodesk Softimage 2015* software helps streamline 3D asset creation and management with Alembic caching, enhancements to the ICE platform and animatable weight maps in Syflex cloth.
Autodesk Entertainment Creation Suite 2015 Extend Creative Capabilities
Each edition of the Autodesk Entertainment Creation Suite scales to match the diverse project and budget needs of teams around the world.
Many of the Suites’ features are built upon existing data exchange workflows that help improve product interoperability and foster greater team collaboration across projects. New capabilities are:
— The ability to exchange Ptex and multi-tile UV textures between Maya and Mudbox helps facilitate an iterative round-trip workflow between Mudbox and Maya.
— Enhanced image plane matching between Maya and Mudbox allows artists to use the same reference image without having to readjust the image to match.
— Export Blend Shapes with multiple targets or Blend Shapes from Maya into Mudbox for sculpting, and then merge them back into the original Maya scene.
— Import MotionBuilder character animations created in Softimage in a single step and export CrowdFX simulations from Softimage to Maya for inclusion with scene elements in one click.
Autodesk Maya LT 2015 Software Streamlines Indie Game Development
Maya LT 2015, the latest iteration of Autodesk’s cost-effective 3D animation and modeling software for professional indie game makers, introduces a series of rich new features and integrations that help advance the 3D content creation process for indie game development.
The updated application has:
— Cloud integration allows artists to browse, open, modify and save Dropbox or Autodesk 360 files to the cloud directly through the Maya LT interface. Leverage 123D Catch or 123D Creature files saved in Autodesk’s 123D cloud storage as a reference for creating game assets in Maya LT;
— Unfold 3D helps facilitate the seamless creation of UV maps from 3D models;
— Substance Material Integration allows users to apply materials created in the Allegorithmic Substance Designer procedural texture creation tool to 3D models;
In addition to the new features, Maya LT 2015 also has the extension releases of Maya LT 2014, such as: support for MEL scripting, a send-to-Unity workflow, uncapped polygon export to Unity, the ability to export models or scenes up to 65,000 polygons in the FBX or OBJ formats, Human IK and IK Handle Animation, and Boolean operations on polygon geometry.
Product release dates vary by country. Autodesk Maya, 3ds Max, Entertainment Creation Suites, and Maya LT are also available in two configurations: as a perpetual license or desktop subscription.
* Editor’s Note: Softimage 2015 will be the final new release of this product.