Autodesk has launched Maya 8, the newest version of its Academy Award-winning 3D modelling, animation and rendering solution.

Maya 8 will be showcased at Siggraph 2006, which opens today at the Boston Convention Center.

Marc Petit, Autodesk's Media & Entertainment vice president, said: "3D artists are tackling some overwhelming challenges right now, such as dealing with huge, increasingly complex data sets while moving to next-generation game development platforms and having to deliver even more photo-realistic imagery. Teams are getting bigger and require sophisticated collaboration and data management tools. Autodesk Maya 8 addresses these production hurdles by combining a flexible platform with a highly optimised software core, boosting productivity and improving pipeline efficiency."

Powerful graphics features

Maya 8 offers multithreading and algorithmic optimisations that let artists load massive datasets and interact with them more efficiently than before. Key areas of the software, including skinning, draw tessellation, and subdivided polygon proxy meshes, have been multi-threaded to scale with the number of processors or cores available.

Maya 8 offers many productivity advancements, particularly for modelling and texturing. The Transfer Polygon Attributes feature lets modelers transfer data between surface meshes of differing topologies.

The software also includes application programming interface (API) extensions, enhancements to Autodesk FBX file exchange technology, and other features designed to widen the application's support for third-party software packages.

Maya 8 will be available in English this month, and in additional languages in the future. The 64-bit version of Maya 8 will be supported on Windows and Linux. The 32-bit version will be supported on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.

Autodesk suggested US retail pricing for Maya 8 is £1,449 for Maya Complete (Standalone) and £4,899 for Maya Unlimited (Standalone). The upgrade price from Maya 7 Complete to Maya 8 Complete is £599, and the upgrade price from Maya 7 Unlimited to Maya 8 Unlimited is £849.