TORONTO - Alias' Maya software was the chief 3D animation technology and only non-proprietary animation solution used to create key characters and scenes in "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith." Throughout the film's production, Maya acted as Industrial Light & Magic's main animation and pre-visualization software, allowing the company's animators to create the memorable performances of digital characters such as Yoda and the villainous commander of the droid army, General Grievous. In addition, key scenes as the film's opening, which contains a fast-paced space battle and acrobatics of an animated Obi-Wan Kenobi, were also brought to life through Maya.
Along with Yoda, who appears in 173 shots in the film, the other primary character who is 100 percent CG is the part-droid, part-alien General Grievous. Grievous appears in 84 shots and many of his moves were Maya-driven.
Key live action cast members - including Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi), Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker), Ian McDiarmid (Supreme Chancellor Palpatine) and Christopher Lee (Count Dooku) - had their own Maya-powered stunt doubles.
ILM made a significant change to its animation pipeline between Star Wars: Episode II and Episode III when it adopted Maya. "It was a little scary, the idea of moving over to a whole new software," says veteran ILM animator, Shawn Kelly, "but Maya is actually much easier to use than what we were using in the past. It's so easy and so intuitive I've never wanted to go back." During the peak production period for Episode III, Kelly was one of over 45 animators using Maya.