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Autodesk Maya

Autodesk Maya
Autodesk Maya 2013 SP2
Original author(s) Alias Systems Corporation
Developer(s) Autodesk, Inc.
Initial release February 1998 (1998-02)
Stable release 2015 / April 15, 2014 (2014-04-15)
Development status Active
Written in C++,[1] MEL, Python[2]
Operating system
Platform IA-32, x64
Available in English, Japanese, Simplified Chinese
Type 3D computer graphics
License Trialware
Website /

Autodesk Maya , commonly shortened to Maya, is a 3D computer graphics software that runs on Windows, OS X and Linux, originally developed by Alias Systems Corporation (formerly Alias|Wavefront) and currently owned and developed by Autodesk, Inc. It is used to create interactive 3D applications, including video games, animated film, TV series, or visual effects. The product is named after the Sanskrit word Maya (माया māyā), the Hindu concept of illusion.[3]


  • History 1
    • Awards 1.1
    • Industry Usage 1.2
  • Overview 2
    • Components 2.1
    • Maya Embedded Language 2.2
  • System requirements 3
    • Operating systems 3.1
    • Hardware requirements 3.2
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Maya was originally a next-generation animation product based on code from The Advanced Visualizer by Wavefront Technologies, PowerAnimator by Alias Research, Inc., and Alias Sketch!. The code was ported to IRIX and animation features were added; the porting project codename was Maya.[4] Walt Disney Feature Animation collaborated closely with Maya's development during its production of Dinosaur.[5] Disney requested that the User interface of the application be customizable so that a personalized workflow could be created. This was a particular influence in the open architecture of Maya, and partly responsible for it becoming so popular in the industry.

After Silicon Graphics Inc. acquired both Alias and Wavefront Technologies, Inc., Wavefront's next-generation technology (then under development) was merged into Maya. SGI's acquisition was a response to Microsoft Corporation acquiring Softimage, Co.. The new wholly owned subsidiary was named "Alias|Wavefront".[6]

In the early days of development, Maya started with Tcl as the scripting language, in order to leverage its similarity to a Unix shell language. But after the merger with Wavefront, Sophia, the scripting language in Wavefront's Dynamation, was chosen as the basis of MEL (Maya embedded language).[7]

Maya 1.0 was released in February 1998. Following a series of acquisitions, Maya was bought by Autodesk in 2005.[8][9] Under the name of the new parent company, Maya was renamed Autodesk Maya. However, the name "Maya" continues to be the dominant name used for the product.


On March 1, 2003, Alias was honored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with an Academy Award for Technical Achievement for scientific and technical achievement for their development of Maya software.

In 2005, while working for Alias|Wavefront, Jos Stam shared an Academy Award for Technical Achievement with Edwin Catmull and Tony DeRose for their invention and application of subdivision surfaces.[10]

On February 8, 2008 Duncan Brinsmead, Jos Stam, Julia Pakalns and Martin Werner received an Academy Award for Technical Achievement for the design and implementation of the Maya Fluid Effects system.[11][12]

Industry Usage

Maya has been used to create graphics for many cinematic films, including the Academy Award winners The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Avatar (2009), Finding Nemo, Up, Monsters, Inc., Hugo, Rango, and Frozen. It is also used to create visual effects for television programs, including Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Once Upon a Time, Bones, Futurama, Boardwalk Empire and South Park.

Maya was involved in creating the visual effects for video games, including Halo 4.[13]


Maya is an application used to generate 3D assets for use in film, television, game development and architecture. The software was initially released for the IRIX operating system. However, this support was discontinued in August 2006 after the release of version 6.5. Maya was available in both "Complete" and "Unlimited" editions until August 2008, when it was turned into a single suite.[14]

Users define a virtual workspace (scene) to implement and edit media of a particular project. Scenes can be saved in a variety of formats, the default being .mb (Maya Binary). Maya exposes a node graph architecture. Scene elements are node-based, each node having its own attributes and customization. As a result, the visual representation of a scene is based entirely on a network of interconnecting nodes, depending on each other's information. For the convenience of viewing these networks, there is a dependency and a directed acyclic graph.

Users who are students, teachers (or veterans or unemployed in USA markets) can download a full educational version from the Autodesk Education community.[15] The versions available at the community are only licensed for non commercial use (once activated with the product license) and some products create watermarks on output renders. The software comes with a full 36 month license. Once it expires, users can log in to the community to request a new 36 months license and download the latest Autodesk product.[16]

Additionally, a perpetual student license can be purchased for Maya. This license does not expire and the student version can be upgraded to the commercial version at a significant discount. It can be used even after the student graduates, the only restriction being non commercial use. No watermarks are created during output, making the student version of Maya suitable for portfolio creation. However, files saved with this version are recognized by all versions of Maya as files created by a student version. The perpetual student license also permits the creation of non commercial assets for non commercial use in game engines such as the Unreal Development Kit. The free student license does not allow this.


Since its consolidation from two distinct packages, Maya and later contain all the features of the now defunct Unlimited suites.

Fluid Effects
A realistic fluid simulator based on simplified, incompressible Navier–Stokes equations[17] for simulating non-elastic fluids was added in Maya 4.5. It is effective for smoke, fire, clouds and explosions, as well as many thick fluid effects such as water, magma or mud.
Classic Cloth
A dynamic cloth simulation tool set utilizing a planar pattern based workflow inspired by the process used to design real world garment patterns. In modern productions, the Maya Cloth module has been largely replaced by the faster, more flexible nCloth system introduced in version 8.5. Prior to this, third party plugins, most notably Syflex, were generally preferred for their superior performance, simulation stability and their polygon modeling based workflow already familiar to 3D artists.
Fur simulation designed for large area coverage of short hairs and hair-like materials. It can be used to simulate short fur-like objects, such as grass, carpet, etc. In contrast to Maya Hair, the Fur module makes no attempt to prevent hair-to-hair collisions. Hairs are also incapable of reacting dynamically to physical forces on a per hair basis. Physics-like effects are achieved through nearby fur effectors that approximate the effect of physical forces averaged over nearby follicles.
Hair simulator capable of simulating dynamic forces acting on long hair and per-hair collisions. Often used to simulate computationally complex human hair styles including pony tails, perms and braids. The simulation utilizes NURBS curves as a base which are then used as strokes for Paint Effects brushes thereby giving the curves a render time surface-like representation that can interact with light and shadow. A simulation on the curves alone for other, non-hair purposes (such as flexible tubing, cables, ropes, etc) is often known simply as Dynamic Curves.
Maya Live
A set of motion tracking tools for CG matching to clean plate footage. It has been largely obsoleted by MatchMover.
Added in version 8.5, nCloth is the first implementation of Maya Nucleus, Autodesk's simulation framework. nCloth provides artist with detailed control of cloth and material simulations. Compared to its predecessor Maya Cloth, nCloth is a faster, more flexible and more robust simulation framework.
Added in version 2009, nParticle is addendum to Maya Nucleus toolset. nParticle is for simulating a wide range of complex 3D effects, including liquids, clouds, smoke, spray, and dust. nParticles are more flexible than Maya's previous particle system in that nParticles may be used to simulate viscous fluids as well as supporting true particle-to-particle collisions. nParticles also interact with the rest of the Nucleus simulation framework without the need for costly work-arounds and custom scripting.
Added to Maya 2010, this enables compositing of CGI elements with motion data from video and film sequences, a process known as Match moving or camera tracking. This is an external program but is shipped with Maya.
Added to Maya 2010, this was earlier sold as Autodesk Toxik. This is an external program but is shipped with Maya.
Camera Sequencer
Added in Autodesk Maya 2011, Camera Sequencer is used to layout multiple camera shots and manage them in one animation sequence.

Maya Embedded Language

Alongside its more recognized visual workflow, Maya is equipped with a cross-platform scripting language, called Maya Embedded Language. MEL is provided for scripting and a means to customize the core functionality of the software, since many of the tools and commands used are written in it. Code can be used to engineer modifications, plug-ins or be injected into runtime. Outside these superficial uses of the language, user interaction is recorded in MEL, allowing even inexperienced users to implement subroutines. Scene information can thus be dumped, extension .ma, editable outside Maya in any text editor.

System requirements

Operating systems

Autodesk supports the Windows (XP SP3 or later), Mac, and Linux platforms. As of Maya 2011, the software is 64-bit under Mac OS X.[18] On Linux, the supported distributions are Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Fedora, 64-bit.[19] While Autodesk acknowledges that the application may run on other distributions, it does not support them. Autodesk Maya 2012 is supported on Mac OS 10.6. Maya 2014 is supported on Mac OS 10.7 or 10.8.[20]

Hardware requirements

Autodesk has published system requirements to run Maya with adequate performance. The specifications are identical for both x86 and x64 platforms.[21]
Hardware Spec
Processor Intel Pentium 4 or higher, AMD Athlon 64, AMD Opteron processor, AMD Phenom processor
Video card Qualified hardware-accelerated OpenGL graphics cards
Memory 2 GB, 4 GB for 64-bit OS
Hard drive 10 GB
Optical drive DVD-ROM
Internet browser Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.0 or higher, Apple Safari, or Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome

See also


  1. ^ List of C++ applications, maintained by C++ creator Bjarne Stroustrup
  2. ^ Matthias Baas (05-08-2006). "Python/Maya: Introductory tutorial". Archived from the original on 15 November 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-10. 
  3. ^ Sangeetha Johari. "Hindu Goddesses : Maya - Hindu Goddess". Archived from the original on 13 November 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-10. 
  4. ^ "History". Maya books. Retrieved 2010-12-11. 
  5. ^ Muwanguzi, Michael J (07-01-2010). "Maya 2011" (Software Review). Microfilmmaker Magazine. Retrieved 2010-12-11. 
  6. ^ Sam Weisbard (12-13-02). "Wavefront Discontinued Products and Brands". Alias. Design engine. Retrieved 2010-12-10. 
  7. ^ Sharpe, Jason; Lumsden, Charles J; Woolridge, Nicholas (2008), In silico: 3D animation and simulation of cell biology with Maya and MEL, Morgan Kaufmann Martin, p. 263,  
  8. ^ "Autodesk buys Alias". Tech republic. 10-09-2005. Retrieved 2010-12-11. 
  9. ^ "Autodesk to buy Alias". Wikinews. Wikimedia. 10-07-2005. Retrieved 2010-12-11. 
  10. ^ "PIXAR Awards". Retrieved 2011-11-15. 
  11. ^ "Scientific & Technical Awards Winners". 2003-01-06. Retrieved 2010-12-10. 
  12. ^ "Technical Achievement Award". 2003-01-06. Retrieved 2010-12-10. 
  13. ^ "The Making of "Halo 4" - A Hero Awakens". Retrieved 2013-12-03. 
  14. ^ "Autodesk Maya Features - Compare". 
  15. ^ "Autodesk Education community". 
  16. ^ "Autodesk Education community FAQ". 
  17. ^ "Autodesk Maya 2013 Online Docs". Autodesk. Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  18. ^ "Autodesk Maya 2011". Retrieved 2013-07-09. 
  19. ^ "Autodesk Maya Services & Support". Archived from the original on 12 May 2011. Retrieved 2013-07-09. 
  20. ^
  21. ^ "System Requirements". Archived from the original on 2 December 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-10. 

External links

  • Autodesk Maya
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