User interface improvements include one-click access to workspace management tools, faster object placement with a new lasso select tool, quick access to Paint Effects brushes, and a new shader library. Maya 4 also features context-sensitive help and Instant Maya "books" with examples for new and intermediate-level users. The new Maya also features faster rendering, with an average performance gain of 5 to 10 percent on Pentium III platforms, and 15 to 20 percent using Pentium 4. Animation advancements include the addition of time warping, character merging, and drag-and-drop character set editing to the software's Trax nonlinear motion editing technology. Among the new character animation features are easy switching between forward and inverse kinematics, motion trails and ghosting, and a new Jiggle Deformer that automatically creates secondary motion such as fat and muscle wobble animation without the use of dynamics. New features specific to game development include more advanced polygon texture mapping and editing.
Maya runs on Windows NT/2000, Irix, and Linux operating systems. A version for Mac OS X is due out soon. The basic Maya Complete package costs $7500. The price for Maya Unlimited, which also includes Maya Fur, Cloth, and advanced modeling features, is $16,000. Maya Builder, which is aimed at Web and game developers, costs $2995 and will include polygonal modeling, texturing, and animation capabilities. (Alias|Wavefront; www.aliaswavefront.com) -JD