Autodesk has released Maya 8.5 as a Universal application for both Intel and Power PC-based Macs.

It's the latest version of the industry standard 3D modelling, animation and rendering software. The software offers numerous improvements on version 8, mainly faster rendering and animation task completion speeds.

“Our goal is to give digital artists choice and flexibility in their 3D tools and platforms,” said Marc Petit, Autodesk's media and entertainment vice president. “This multi-threaded software leverages the latest multi-core workstations from Apple. Maya 8.5 equips digital artists with innovative new technologies such as Maya Nucleus, a unified simulation framework, as well as greater productivity.”

“Mac OS X is an outstanding 3D graphics platform, with legendary power and stability,” said Ron Okamoto, Apple's vice president of Worldwide Developer Relations. “The combination of our blazing fast Intel-based Macs and new Maya 8.5 functionality, such as Maya Nucleus and Maya nCloth, makes it easier than ever for digital artists to realise their most creative ideas."

Maya Nucleus features technology developed by Autodesk's Academy Award-winning principal research scientist Jos Stam. The unified simulation framework allows artists to create elements that interact, in a 3D animation, with other dynamic objects such as fluids, cloth and rigid bodies.

Maya 8.5 includes Maya nCloth, which is the first module of Maya Nucleus. With Maya nCloth, artists can direct and control a range of simulations, including cloth, plastic, metal and other materials.

Python scripting also debuts in the release. An open-source programming language, Python helps speed-up script development and plug-in prototyping.