Wednesday, April 23, 2014

My first impression of Maya 2015

Maya 2015 came out last week and for once I was quite excited with the new release. Maya now ships with Bifröst, a water simulation tool derived from Naiad. There are of course other features which also peaked my interest so here is a quick overview on what I like about the new Maya 2015.

The new stuff

Let me start with the simulation and dynamics updates.
  • Bifröst is by far the coolest feature added to Maya 2015. It allows you to make decent fluid simulations like the ones possible in Realflow. Some people on the net don't consider this big news but it saves you an extra license if you are on a tight budget and didn't have the luxury to buy extra software. Check the Autodesk channel on Youtube for nice examples. As I understand, the Bifröst implementation is not fully complete yet so there will be features missing but to me this is a great start.
  • XGen is a tool for grooming and styling hair but can also be utilised as a tool to populate landscapes and environments with plants and foliage.
  • Although the Bullet plug-in for Maya exists for quite a while now, it seems better integrated and usable in Maya 2015.

Some other mixed features which I like.

  • Texture deformers let you displace your geometry like a displacement map but it is applied straight on the geometry and can be seen in the viewport. Displacement maps do their magic at rendertime and so are harder to get right as you have to wait for your renderer to do the calculations. This could potentially be a nice time saver.
  • A lot of UV-tool improvements. Yes, Ptex is also supported in Mental Ray now but UVing is stil a very common and annoying job. Any tool that reduces the pain is welcome by me.
  • Viewport 2.0 is now the default viewport. I must admit that in the previous Maya releases I haven't used it all that much yet but I am quite happy to use this as a default now.
  • Mental Ray Progressive rendering in the IPR is a nice addition which other renderers like V-ray and PRMan already supported ages ago. This can also be a huge time saver.
Of course there are more new features than I mention here but these are the most important for me.

Where is Matchmover and Composite?

Matchmover and Composite came as free packages with Maya in the earlier versions but I was surprised (or maybe not) that these are no longer installed next to Maya 2015. I've tried Composite and never really liked it too much (I am more a Shake/Nuke adept) but I used Matchmover quite successfully in the past so I was miffed that it wasn't there anymore.

No panic though!
You can still find them on the Autodesk exchange Apps website. I could download them freely as a subscription member. They didn't get an update and it is basically the same version which came with Maya 2014. I suppose these will get to the end of their life sooner or later but you can still enjoy them for now.

Time for me to go and play a bit with Maya now.

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