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  Architosh Staff ([email protected])


Alias/Wavefront: Studio and Maya for Mac OS X - Second Report

6 Apr 00

This is our second report on the A/W Maya for OS X rumors and inside information. We were initially tipped off by a few readers many months ago (and later obtained some speculative info from SGI reps at Seybold) about the prospects of Maya and/or Studio for Mac OS X. Now we have more information from some readers who claim to be in the know on this matter.

Maya and StudioTools

Maya and Alias Studio (now called StudioTools TM.) may both be candidates for OS X development in the future. According to a very knowledgeable and longtime Alias/Wavefront user, who has requested anonymity, the project on bringing Maya to Macintosh OS X is already underway. As for StudioTools, this reader was unsure if the Macintosh market can support it.

A second reader, familiar with Alias Studio also wrote in to discuss the differences between StudioTools and Maya. To summarize a bit: Maya is an advanced, high-end animation package more useful for making animation effects than for high end industrial modeling -- the forte of StudioTools. StudioTools is the advanced CAID (computer-aided industrial design) software used by automotive engineers and designers in such companies as Ford, Honda, BMW, etc., and used by industrial designers (such as the Apple Industrial Design Group ) who craft products as diverse as iMacs and cell phones. As one source wrote:

"Studio is built on a code base which goes back into the mid 80's. It is not built on the same kernel as Maya which is just a few years old.

Maya offers infinite undo, everything is animatable, there is a very powerful scripting language within Maya called MEL, which is a technical directors wet dream, which allows everything in the package to be customized, tweaked, and scripted. Maya allows for soft and hard body dynamics, fabric draping, particle effects, hardware rendering, [super fast] OpenGL lighting and shading, complex shader networks and some of the best UI (user interface) features of any package ever written."

This same reader commented that A/W StudioTools has well over 400 tools, many of which are showing their age (note: Maya is built on a new kernel, different from Studio) and, until version 9.5 released this year, Studio was terribly "slow spinning a shaded model compared to products like Pro/E and even Maya". Regardless, as many readers (including this one) have mentioned, StudioTools is "hands down the best Nurbs surfacing package in the world" -- which is why it is favored by industrial designers.

Maya for Mac OS X: Details

If Maya for Mac OS X is, indeed, under development, Alias/Wavefront may have many reasons for not publicizing this information. First, Mac OS X is still far off. Although Apple may be saying summer of 2000, this first release will be different from any other Mac OS major release in history, with the exception of the original Mac OS release in 84'. Our informed reader says Maya 3.0 (or later) for Mac OS X is a "no-no". The reasoning here is that this first version is simply too early of a release. The most likely release will come with a Mac OS X.1 or later release, due most likely around Macworld Expo San Francisco 2001 or NAB 2001.

Secondly, it would be a mistake to mention support for a product on an OS that isn't even out yet, with yet undetermined user-base. Once OS X is out and successful then Alias still has to determine if there is a Mac OS X market for either product. (see page 2 for details on this).

In our earlier report we mentioned the rumors that Alias/Wavefront was hiring Mac programmers (to help develop Maya). And we mentioned that we found no such job listings on Alias' Web site for Mac specific programming skills. However, our informed reader had this to say:

"A|W doesn't need a single MacOS programmer for this project. MacOS X is BSD Unix as [is] Irix, the OS on which Maya was developed. A|W dev. team knows BSD and OpenGL by heart and all their code (namely, Maya and SurfaceStudio) is specifically structured for porting to other advanced OpenGL-based UNIX operating systems, such as Solaris and MacOS X."

There is " no need for MacOS toolbox trash, [nor] for Carbon, much less for classic MacOS programmers."

With Apple just today releasing Darwin 1.0 -- the open-source, BSD-based UNIX at the foundation of OS X -- developers are just now able to get their hands on the key components needed to test ports to Mac OS X from other BSD-based code bases. This isn't meant to sound discouraging, although at least one Mac columnist feels Apple needs to pickup the pace on its BSD UNIX underpinnings. According to one of our sources:

"Maya X is indeed under development at A|W as a 'native app' and by just a handful of developers, FWIW." (for what it is worth).

"Contacting Alias|Wavefront to express REAL interest on the product if you are a serious animator or game designer is indeed a very good idea. Having Maya running on MacOS X is not a guarantee that it will ever get released commercially. Not at all. In fact, the biggest part for A|W would be supporting the product on MacOS X, not developing the product ..."

This reader cautioned that "REAL interest" means serious pro users -- not crazy Mac addicts looking to bombard software developers with 'make a Mac version' emails of programs they never intend to buy in the first place. Maya and StudioTools are expensive so inquire before asking for Mac OS X support. For those serious users out there using EIAS and Lightwave and who feel Maya on Mac OS X would be of real value to you you can email Alias/Wavefront here.

Next Page Highlights: Disney, Pixar, Jobs and LucasFilms spur OS X Maya Interest

> Next Page

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