SAN FRANCISCO — Autodesk (www.autodesk.com) has introduced the 2015 versions of its 3D animation tools — 3DS Max, Maya, MotionBuilder, Mudbox, Softimage — as well as a new addition, Maya LT, which is designed to be a 3D animation and modeling tool for indie game makers.
Each animation product has updates that enable artists to better manage complex projects and large data sets, while helping to stay on schedule and on budget. Artists now have access to a variety of features, ranging from high fidelity interactive viewports, a WYSIWYG work environment, and single-click, cross-product workflows. In addition, pros can use low cost consumer devices to capture body movements.
Maya 2015 adds new capabilities to the toolset such as the Bifrost procedural effects platform, which provides an extensible, artist-friendly workflow for complex simulation and rendering tasks; the XGen Arbitrary Primitive Generator for the easy creation of richly-detailed geometry such as hair, fur, and foliage; the Geodesic Voxel Binding method for skinning characters; ShaderFX, a new node-based visual interface for shader programing; and support for Pixar’s OpenSubdiv libraries.
3DS Max 2015 software has been extended and redesigned to help improve performance, ease-of-use and management of complex scenes. New is ShaderFX, a 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; viewport performance optimizations; and a redesigned scene explorer to make it easier for artists to manage large scenes. ActiveShade support for the Nvidia Mental Ray renderer and Python scripting support have also been added.
MotionBuilder 2015 provides several features that advance motion capture workflow accessibility. A new plug-in for Microsoft Kinect helps capture body movements. Animatable Depth of Field and Follow Focus camera options can be used to recreate elements of real-world cinematography. A content library with 100 common character animations in the Autodesk FBX format is also included.
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, a new caliper tool and support for Intel HD graphics 4000 on compatible Windows 8 operating system hybrid tablet/PCs.
And 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.
Maya LT 2015 is the latest iteration of Autodesk’s cost-effective 3D animation and modeling software. It introduces a series of new features and integrations that help advance the 3D content creation process for indie game development. The app includes cloud integration that allows artists to browse, open, modify and save Dropbox or Autodesk 360 files to the cloud directly through the Maya LT interface. Users can also leverage 123D Catch or 123D Creature files saved in Autodesk’s 123D cloud storage as a reference for creating game assets. Unfold 3D helps facilitate the seamless creation of UV maps from 3D models. And 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.