Thursday, September 15th, 2022 Posted by Jim Thacker

Autodesk launches Maya Creative

Autodesk has launched Maya Creative, a cut-down edition of its Maya 3D animation software intended to “[lower] the barrier to entry for artists at smaller facilities”.

The new edition, which lacks simulation tools and the ability to load third-party plugins, is available via Autodesk’s Flex pay-as-you-go platform, and costs $3/day.

What are the differences between Maya Creative and Maya?
For older readers, the announcement will bring back memories of Maya Complete and Maya Ultimate, the two editions of the software that Autodesk offered during the early 2000s.

Like Maya Complete before it, Maya Creative is a cut-down edition aimed at 3D modelling and animation, and lacks the simulation capabilities of the full version of the software.

It can load effects created with the Bifrost simulation framework, but not author them, and lacks Maya’s soft and rigid body dynamics, cloth and hair toolsets, including XGen.

In addition, it cannot load third-party plugins, including Substance in Maya and Unreal Engine Live Link, and lacks SDK support for authoring custom plugins.

It is available for Windows and macOS only – unlike the full version of Maya, there is no Linux edition.

However, aside from a few smaller features like Paint Effects and the toon shader, it has all of Maya’s key modelling, rigging, animation, rendering and motion graphics tools, plus USD support and Python scripting.

How much does Maya Creative cost?
Unlike the full version of the software, Maya Creative isn’t available on subscription, only through Flex, the token-based pay-as-you-go pricing system that Autodesk introduced last year.

It uses one token per day, as opposed to six per day for Maya itself, which works out at $3/day.

Since that scales to roughly $90/month or $1,095/year, that’s significantly lower than the cost of a full Maya subscription, which is currently $225/month or $1,785/year.

It also makes it possible for artists who use Maya infrequently to rent its core tools on a per-day basis.

However, it’s worth noting that the minimum cost is not literally $3, since you have to spend at least $300 at a time on Flex tokens, and they don’t roll over from year to year.

Who is likely to use Maya Creative instead of Maya Indie or Maya LT?
In its blog post, Autodesk describes Maya Creative as “a cost-efficient option for freelancers [and] boutique facilities … who don’t need the same API access or extensibility required for larger production workflows”.

For freelancers, it fills a gap between Indie subscriptions to the full version of Maya – even lower-priced, but which cap the amount you can earn per year – and full commercial subscriptions.

For studios, it may fill the gap left by Autodesk’s decision to end multi-user subscriptions – currently scheduled for 7 February 2023 – which enabled multiple artists within a facility to share a subscription.

Although Autodesk’s announcement focuses on visual effects and animation, Maya Creative may also appeal to game developers looking for an alternative to Maya LT.

It also provides access to Maya’s 3D modelling and animation tools, and has a lower minimum cost than Maya Creative, but has not been updated for nearly two years, the last release being Maya LT 2020.4.

Updated: Autodesk has now discontinued Maya LT, which has officially now been superseded by Maya Creative. Sales of new subscriptions and renewal of existing subscriptions ended on 7 December 2022.

Pricing and system requirements
Maya Creative is available for Windows 10+ and macOS 10.14+. It is available on a pay-as-you-go basis at a cost of $3/day, with an effective minimum spend of $300/year, as described in the story above.

Indie subscriptions to Maya currently cost $290/year in the US, but are restricted to individual artists earning under $100,000/year from creative work, and cannot be used on projects valued over $100,000.

Full subscriptions to Maya cost $225/month or $1,785/year. Maya LT costs $35/month or $290/year.

Read more about Maya Creative on Autodesk’s product website

See a detailed feature comparison between Maya Creative and Maya