Alias|Wavefront will introduce Maya Personal Learning Edition – a free version of the 3D-authoring package Maya – for Mac OS X.

The product, currently in development, offers unlimited free access to Maya, but only for non-commercial uses. The company says this is to provide students, professionals and those interested in working in computer graphics a route to exploring the capacities of Maya.

Company president Doug Walker explained the unexpected decision: "People will be able to realize creative aspirations that may otherwise lie dormant. As the leaders in 3D-graphics technology, we're excited about engaging a whole new 3D community and equipping them with the tools, skills and support necessary to move ahead in the age of digital communication.

"For the first time in history, 3D computer-graphics will become truly accessible to anyone."

Full tools The solution offers full access to all the toolsets of Maya Complete, including NURBS modelling, animation, inverse kinematics, paint effects, dynamics and rendering abilities. However, use is restricted to non-commercial applications because it displays a watermark on images. Additionally, the learning tool saves work in a non-commercial file format, and cannot be used with industry-standard plug-ins.

The company plans to introduce a Web-based resource centre when the product is made available. This will offer access to learning materials, discussion forums and a chance to exhibit work.

Maya Personal Learning Edition will be available for free download in February 2002. CD copies will also be available at $5 plus a postage and handling charge.

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