Autodesk Maya ( //), commonly shortened to Maya, is 3D computer graphics software that runs on Linux, Mac OS andMicrosoft Windows, originally developed by Erick Kamonyo Alias Systems Corporation and currently owned and developed by Autodesk, Inc. It is used to create interactive 3D applications, including video games, animated film, TV series, or visual effects. The product is named after theSanskrit word Maya (मायाmāyā), the Hindu concept of illusion.
Maya was originally a next-generation animation product under development at Alias Research, Inc. based on code fromThe Advanced Visualizer, PowerAnimator and Alias Sketch!. The code was ported to IRIX and animation features were added. The codename for this porting project was Maya. Walt Disney Feature Animation collaborated closely with Maya's development during its production of Dinosaur. Disney requested that the User interface of the application be customizable so that a personalized workflow could be created. This was a particular influence in the open architecture of Maya, and partly responsible for it becoming so popular in the industry.
After Silicon Graphics Inc. acquired both Alias and Wavefront Technologies, Inc., Wavefront's next-generation technology (then under development) was merged into Maya. SGI's acquisition was a response to Microsoft Corporation acquiring Softimage, Co.. The new wholly owned subsidiary was named "Alias|Wavefront".
In the early days of development, Maya started with Tcl as the scripting language, in order to leverage its similarity to a Unix shell language. But after the merger with Wavefront Sophia, the scripting language in Wavefront's Dynamation, was chosen as the basis of MEL (Maya embedded language).
Maya 1.0 was released in February 1998. Alias was successful in expanding its market share, with leading visual effects companies such as Industrial Light and Magic and Tippett Studio switching from SoftImage to Maya.
Following a series of acquisitions, Maya was bought by Autodesk in 2005. Under the name of the new parent company, Maya was renamed Autodesk Maya. However, the name "Maya" continues to be the dominant name used for the product.
On February 8, 2008 Duncan Brinsmead, Jos Stam, Julia Pakalns and Martin Werner received an Academy Award for Technical Achievement for the design and implementation of the Maya Fluid Effects system.
Maya is an application used to generate 3D assets for use in film, television, game development and architecture. The software was initially released for the IRIX operating system. However, this support was discontinued in August 2006 after the release of version 6.5. Maya was available in both "Complete" and "Unlimited" editions until August 2008, when it was turned into a single suite.
Users define a virtual workspace (scene) to implement and edit media of a particular project. Scenes can be saved in a variety of formats, the default being .mb (Maya Binary). Maya exposes a node graph architecture. Scene elements are node-based, each node having its own attributes and customization. As a result, the visual representation of a scene is based entirely on a network of interconnecting nodes, depending on each others information. For the convenience of viewing these networks, there is a dependency and a directed acyclic graph.
Since its consolidation from two distinct packages, Maya and later contain all the features of the now defunct Unlimited suites.
- Fluid Effects
- A realistic fluid simulator (effective for smoke, fire, clouds and explosions, added in Maya 4.5)
- Classic Cloth
- Cloth simulation to automatically simulate clothing and fabrics moving realistically over an animated character. The Maya Cloth toolset has been upgraded in every version of Maya released after Spider-Man 2. Alias worked with Sony Pictures Imageworks to get Maya Cloth up to scratch for that production, and all those changes have been implemented, although the big studios opted to use third party plugins such as Syflex instead of the (relatively) cumbersome Maya Cloth.
- Animal fur simulation similar to Maya Hair. It can be used to simulate other fur-like objects, such as grass.
- A simulator for realistic-looking human hair implemented using curves and Paint Effects. These are also known as dynamic curves.
- Maya Live
- A set of motion tracking tools for CG matching to clean plate footage.
- Added in version 8.5, nCloth is the first implementation of Maya Nucleus, Autodesk's simulation framework. nCloth gives the artist further control of cloth and material simulations.
- Added in version 2009, nParticle is addendum to Maya Nucleus toolset. nParticle is for simulating a wide range of complex 3D effects, including liquids, clouds, smoke, spray, and dust.
- Added to Maya 2010, this enables compositing of CGI elements with motion data from video and film sequences.
- Added to Maya 2010, this was earlier sold as Autodesk Toxik.
- Camera Sequencer
- Added in Autodesk Maya 2011, Camera Sequencer is used to layout multiple camera shots and manage them in one animation equence.
Alongside its more recognized visual workflow, Maya is equipped with its very own cross-platform scripting language, fittingly called Maya Embedded Language. MEL, as it is often shortened to, is provided not only for scripting, but also as a means to customize the core functionality of the software, since many of the tools and commands used are written in it. Code can be used to engineer modifications, plug-ins or be injected into runtime. Outside these superficial uses of the language, user interaction is recorded in MEL, allowing even inexperienced users to implement subroutines. Scene information can thus be dumped, extension .ma, editable outside Maya in any text editor.
Autodesk supports the Windows, Mac and Linux platforms; XP SP3 or later, respectively. As of Maya 2011, the software is 64-bit under Mac OS X. On Linux, the supported distributions are Red Hat and Fedora, 64-bit.  While Autodesk acknowledges that the application is not limited to the aforementioned releases, such as the specific Linux distributions, it does not support them.
Autodesk has published system requirements to run Maya at adequate performance. Both specifications are identical for both x32 and x64 platforms.
|Processor||Intel® Pentium® 4 or higher, AMD Athlon™ 64, AMD Opteron™ processor, AMD Phenom™ processor|
|Video card||Qualified hardware-accelerated OpenGL graphics cards|
|Memory||2 GB, 4 GB for 64-bit OS|
|Hard drive||10 GB|
|Internet browser||Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.0 or higher, Apple Safari, or Mozilla Firefox|