Maya Suite 2011 another big step forward
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Maya Suite 2011 another big step forward

By Bruce Bicknell

You have to love the way Autodesk (http://usa.autodesk.com) has assembled all of the essential software in your creative pipeline into one package. Maya Entertainment Creation Suite 2011 (US$4,995) doesn’t disappoint and takes another step forward in creating a more seamless workflow for artists.

Packed with everything you need to create amazing animation, character models, rendering, and special effects, the Creation Suite includes Maya 2011, Mudbox 2011, and MotionBuilder 2011. There’s also a version of the suite that comes with Autodesk 3ds Max in place of Maya 2011, and you can purchase 3ds Max individually to fulfill all of your animation needs. With this release, Autodesk really stepped up the game with some great new features.

Maya 2011

There are a ton of new features and enhancements in all of the programs. While we can’t hit them all, I’ll touch on a few of them. The first thing that users will notice in this release is the new interface that includes new menus, as well as dockable windows that can be customized and moved to fit your workflow. The overall icon and tool placement is consistent with previous versions, so users will be familiar with them. This creates a more user-friendly workspace and is a much-needed improvement.

One of my favorite additions is the HumanIK retargeting solver that’s brand new to Maya 2011. This feature was previously only available in MotionBuilder and you had to jump to it in order to map or retarget animations between characters. Now you can do it in the program and increase speed and productivity.

Other new features include an improved File Browser which makes navigating much easier when trying to find files on your computer. There are some performance enhancements that are sure to get your attention as well. For you Mac users, the introduction of 64-bit support should get your attention. This will lead to a significant bump in performance for sure! A new interactive viewpoint makes frame rates several times faster, and nParticle shows an improved speed as well.

MotionBuilder and Mudbox 2011

Mudbox has to be one of my all-time favorite programs because it’s the ultimate sculpting tool. It allows artists to create amazing results with the only obstacle being their imagination. What really stands out on the new version is the ability to integrate other Autodesk programs effortlessly into Mudbox. You can now import models from Softimage, 3ds Max, and Maya with their weighted skeletons that remain fully intact with complete control in Mudbox’s posing system. Other features include increased speed with the posing toolset, plus a ton of new paint brushes and tools to help expand your creativity.

MotionBuilder has received its fair share of enhancements as well. It has always been a strong tool to have in your arsenal for providing real-time animation, and with this release Autodesk has made it even better! This will help with those large scenes and characters that have slowed down the process in the past.

Once again, there’s not enough space on the page to really explore the vast new features of the Maya Creation Suite 2011. The new features are another great step forward for Autodesk and you definitely owe it to yourself to check it out as it’s more than worth the upgrade.

Rating: 10 out of 10

(This review is brought to you courtesy of "Layers Magazine": http://layersmagazine.com/).

 
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