Maya 2009 review

Maya updates have often been hit and miss, but this release delivers the goods with a slew of impressive new modelling, animation, rendering and compositing tools.

Topping the list is improved Soft Selection that allows bulky edits on dense meshes. Maya 2009 features true symmetrical modelling for Move, Scale and Rotate in world and object space, and symmetrical modelling is possible on asymmetrical models. A new Tweak mode allows fast, successive edits to be accomplished without having to repeatedly reach for various modelling tools.

Unfolding and relaxing UVs is a cumbersome, trial and error process but the new Unfold and Relax tool lets you interactively unfold UVs by dragging across the UV editor to display and select different iterations. Other important improvements include pre-scaling UVs to ensure proportional scaling for consistent texture display, pre-defined UV regions, and better UVsnapping.

Maya lives up to its reputation as the top animation tool with the addition of nParticles to the ground-breaking Maya Nucleus. Built on an innovative architecture, Nucleus is a major improvement in cloth (nCloth introduced in Maya 8.5) and particle simulation using solvers that are aware of each other and can influence each other. This produces stable, fast simulation with fluid motion and realistic self-collision. More than just revolutionary, nCloth and now nParticles make dynamic simulations simple.

Newly multi-threaded Maya Fluid Effects and deformers deliver significant performance improvements on multiple-processor machines. And Maya Muscle features new muscle types, improved controls, and more collision options.

Maya 2009 debuts a redesigned render pass system providing increased options for compositing, including integrated support for Toxik. To keep up with a booming demand in 3D, Maya now offers comprehensive support for active, checkerboard and anaglyph stereoscopic renders. And an update to the mental ray 3.7 core delivers a vast array of performance improvements.

OUR VERDICT

Maya’s animation and special effects tools are unparalleled and the addition of nParticles puts Maya ahead of the competition. It lacks support for the 64-bit Mac OS, though, which is a serious drawback for high-end Mac users. Nonetheless, modelling, animation, rendering and workflow improvements make this solid release worth the upgrade price.

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