maya 2018

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Is there enough in this new re­lease to sat­isfy Maya fans?

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W hen Au­todesk re­leased Maya 2017, it re­ceived a mixed re­cep­tion. In many ways this was due to the com­pany drop­ping sup­port for Men­tal Ray and in­stead fo­cus­ing on Arnold, (which is now fully in­te­grated into Maya 2018). This was al­ways on the cards; Men­tal Ray was quickly feel­ing dated and users were swiftly mov­ing to ex­ter­nal plug-ins like V-ray, so Au­todesk had no choice but to do some­thing if it wanted to of­fer cus­tomers an im­proved ren­der­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Shortly after, Au­todesk re­leased Men­tal Ray as a stand­alone plug-in, which you could down­load and add your­self if needed.

With the re­lease of Maya 2018, Au­todesk has again di­vided the com­mu­nity. This time, how­ever, the is­sue seems to be the lack of any ma­jor new fea­tures, rather than the re­moval of ex­ist­ing ones.

With that said, the legacy view­ports have now been re­moved, leav­ing your only option be­ing View­port 2.0, which is another bone of con­tention among users. You can, how­ever, add the legacy view­ports back via the en­vi­ron­ment vari­able MAYA_ ENABLE_LEGACY_VIEWPORT, al­though per­for­mance has been im­proved in View­port 2.0 to such a level where you shouldn’t need to.

Don’t get us wrong, peo­ple mak­ing the leap from 2017 or ear­lier, to 2018 have a lot to be ex­cited about. Maya 2018 does feel like more of a sta­bil­ity and pro­duc­tiv­ity re­lease, with most up­dates fo­cused on fix­ing hun­dreds of bugs and im­prov­ing ex­ist­ing tools. This is ac­tu­ally great news. With Au­todesk spend­ing time fix­ing and en­hanc­ing what it al­ready has, it means your work­flow should be smoother. Surely this is bet­ter than adding a fea­ture you may not use?

Even with the lack of new fea­tures, there is still plenty to be ex­cited about. Al­most every as­pect of Maya has had a wave of the Au­todesk wand to the point where there are just too many im­prove­ments to list, how­ever there are some key tools which will make your 3D life eas­ier.

Mod­el­ling work­flow has been en­hanced with the in­tro­duc­tion of the in­ter­ac­tive Ex­trude and Slide tools. Sim­ply hold Shift and move your se­lected faces to ex­trude them, hold­ing Shift and Con­trol will in­stead slide the ge­om­e­try over the sur­face of the model. It’s a small thing

and some­thing that has ex­isted in other ap­pli­ca­tions for a while, how­ever it’s nice to see it fi­nally be im­ple­mented be­cause it will save a lot of time.

You can also quickly cre­ate a cir­cle in your ge­om­e­try with the new Cir­cu­lar­ize tool, which is neat, but again noth­ing new. Sym­metrize is a nice new ad­di­tion, mak­ing your model sym­met­ri­cal. In prac­tice this works well, how­ever it would have been nice if it also up­dated topol­ogy changes, too.

Rig­ging is another area where im­prove­ments have been made. For ex­am­ple, build­ing upon the Con­troller op­tions added pre­vi­ously, which al­lowed cus­tom pick walk­ing, you can now set the con­troller’s vis­i­bil­ity to only show when the mouse pointer is close to it. This ad­di­tion re­sults in a much cleaner rig for an­i­ma­tors.

Other im­prove­ments in­clude the ad­di­tions of Dash Script­ing, a Curve Wrap De­former and full Arnold 5 sup­port, not to men­tion MASH dy­nam­ics and Look Dev ad­di­tions to im­prove your ren­der­ing work­flow. The list goes on.

What would we have liked to see? The Node Edi­tor could use some work as it still feels clunky com­pared to the likes of Hou­dini and Blender. It’s an edi­tor that a lot of peo­ple prob­a­bly find them­selves us­ing more and more, es­pe­cially when build­ing com­plex rigs, so any­thing which can make the ex­pe­ri­ence smoother is surely an im­prove­ment.

One com­plaint about Maya that sur­faces year after year is how dif­fi­cult it can be to nav­i­gate the menus, so it would have been nice to have seen a quick menu option.

As you can tell from this re­view, Maya 2018 is a bit of a mixed bag but all in all, it feels like it’s a step in the right di­rec­tion. Hav­ing a more sta­ble re­lease with en­hance­ments to over­all work­flow is a great thing, al­though we are not sure we needed to wait for a full re­lease for them.

Maya 2018 does feel more like an up­date rather than a full re­lease but if you’re look­ing to in­crease your pro­duc­tiv­ity and stream­line your work­flow, the up­grade is well worth it. How­ever, if you’re happy with what Maya 2017 has to of­fer, you may not want to rush out and up­grade just yet.

“you can now Set the con­troller’s Vis­i­bil­ity to only Show when the Mouse pointer is close to it. this Ad­di­tion re­sults in A Much cleaner rig For An­i­ma­tors”

the new clump mod­i­fier lets you to in­ter­ac­tively sculpt clumps into hair to make them look less uni­form.

mash has seen many im­prove­ments but the new dy­nam­ics node gives im­pres­sive re­sults, quickly.

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