Friday, March 3rd, 2017 Posted by Jim Thacker

Autodesk releases Maya 2017 Update 3

Maya’s new Clump modifier enables artists to create “curls and coils” of hair. The latest update to Maya 2017 also extends the software’s animation, motion graphics and fluid simulation toolsets.

Autodesk has released Maya 2017 Update 3, the latest update to its industry-standard 3D modelling and animation software, adding new motion graphics features and new hair and fluid simulation options.

The update also adds the new features rolled out in Maya LT 2017 last week, including improvements to the Viewport 2.0 display, UV Editor, and animation workflow.

Updates to Viewport 2.0 and the UV Editor
Some of the new features in Maya 2017 Update 3 – including improvements to Viewport 2.0, UV editing, and the new Bake Deformer tool – also appear in Maya LT 2017, the cut-down edition of the software.

We covered those in our story on Maya LT 2017 Update 3, so we won’t repeat them here.

New motion graphics nodes, text options, and live link to After Effects
However, the update also introduces a number of new features that are unique to the full edition of Maya.

Some of the most significant are to the node-based motion graphics toolset, derived from Mainframe North’s old MASH add-on, which gets over 15 updates and extensions to existing nodes.

There are also two entirely new nodes: a World node (shown above) for scattering objects “in natural clusters” over a surface, and a Placer node for placing points on a surface by mousing over it.

When working with text, there is a new Generator option for the Type Tool, which creates procedural text, including random characters, the frame number, or the current running time of a clip.

There is also a new node for extruding geometry from text or SVG files.

Finally, there is a new live link to After Effects, enabling users to work on a scene in both applications simultaneously, with changes propagated from one to another in real time.

New Clump, Cut and Collide modifiers for hair
The hair toolset gets a number of new features, including a new Clump modifier (above) for creating more realistic clumping effects, like secondary clumping, and “curls or coils” of hair.

There is also a new Twist brush for adjusting the angle of hairs or hair guides relative to an underlying geometry surface before converting the groom to geometry.

The tool is intended to help games artists working on projects where hair or fur is represented by poly strips to achieve a more even coverage of the character’s skin.

Other changes include a new Cut modifier for adjusting the length of hairs without affecting their shape; and a Collision modifier for colliding hair and fur with mesh objects.

There are also new options to generate hairs and guides from Alembic curves, and new MEL commands for automating common grooming tasks. You can find a full list here.

New Bifröst options cut time taken to iterate fluid simulations
The Bifröst fluid simulation toolset gets a number of updates, of which the most significant is probably the option to use any frame of a simulation as the starting frame for future sims.

The feature enables users to avoid having to calculate the ‘run up’ to a sim – for example, water flowing down to the foot of a waterfall – over and over again while iterating the simulation.

Other changes: new Tension deformer, GPU acceleration for Delta Mush, Dash scriptng
Animators get a new Tension deformer (above, right), which simulates the effect of surface tension when points on a mesh’s surface are manipulated, giving an effect like deforming a rubbery material.

The Delta Mush deformer added in Maya 2016 now has a GPU-based version, which Autodesk says is 2-4x faster than its old CPU-based counterpart in “limited testing”.

Other changes include the addition of Dash scripting to the Channel Box: a new inline scripting method for automating common tasks. You can see a list of available Dash commands here.

Pricing and availability
Maya 2017 Update 3 is available for Windows 7 and 10, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.5 and 7.2 WS and CentOS 6.5 and 7.2, and Mac OS X 10.10.5 and above,

As with all of Autodesk’s software, licences of Maya are available on a subscription-only basis, starting at $185/month or $1,470/year.

Read a full list of new features in Maya 2017 Update 3 in Autodesk’s online documentation