Autodesk Maya Entertainment Suite is advanced 3D software
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Autodesk Maya Entertainment Suite is advanced 3D software

By Bruce Bicknell

Okay, gang, hold on to your hats! Autodesk ( released the new version of the Entertainment Creation Suite 2012 for Maya. This new release (US$4,995) not only has killer upgrades to Maya but Autodesk has also made some long overdue improvements to Mudbox and MotionBuilder, as well as the addition of Softimage to the Premium bundle.

The Softimage software includes Face Robot (for complex face rigging), the Interactive Creative Environment (ICE) visual programming system, as well as the Lagoa Multiphysics dynamic solver system written in ICE. I’ve only used Softimage sparingly but one of Autodesk’s goals was to bring the programs together (much like the Adobe Creative Suite) to allow them to work together better in a simpler way.

They’ve done that with the introduction of the “one-click” send-to functions that allow you to send and receive data from the other programs in the suite quickly and easily, thus increasing productivity drastically. The company has come through with flying colors on this one for sure.

That’s what the bundle has to offer, so let’s take a look at the new features in Maya, MotionBuilder, and Mudbox in the Premium version of Autodesk Maya Entertainment Creation Suite 2012 that we tested.

Maya 2012

There are a ton of new features and enhancements in all of the programs, and while we can’t hit them all, I’ll touch on a few of them. The first thing that’s exciting is the unification of the HumanIK solver and UI between MotionBuilder and Maya. This really pushes to streamline the animation and motion-capture process and is sure to have an impact on the productivity side of your projects.

Another new feature (that’s long overdue) is editable motion trails. These provide a fast workflow directly in the Maya scene for editing the position and timing of keyframes. The motion trails display with your animated models, eliminating the need to leave the scene for the Graph Editor. Updates to the Camera Sequencer include a new playlist for more efficient shot management, improved multitrack audio, and the addition of the Ubercam, which lets you quickly output all shots to a single camera.

Other new features include two new HumanIK windows: the Characterization tool, which allows you to speed up mapping a skeleton to a HumanIK rig, and the Character Controls for quickly selecting parts when animating or pinning and adjusting Reach and Pull settings.

MotionBuilder 2012 and Mudbox 2012

The key to both MotionBuilder and Mudbox 2012 is that they now offer the “one-click” send-to functions that allow you to send and receive data from the other programs in the Entertainment Creation Suite.

Mudbox has become even better with the addition of PTEX, which lets you start painting without having UVs on your mesh and allows you to paint across multiple meshes. Something else that’s really cool: If you want to stay UV free, you can export directly to PTEX files.

MotionBuilder has received its fair share of enhancements, as well: A new Dark GUI and updated character picker; FCurve Editor changes; and new characterization tools; as well as a dockable GUI! Yep, you heard right; finally, a dockable GUI.

Once again, there’s not enough space on one page to really explore the vast new features of the Maya Entertainment Creation Suite 2012. 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": .)

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