Maya 2017 Review

Maya is a 3D computer graphics software that runs on Windows, OS X and Linux. It is used to create interactive 3D applications, including video games, animated film, TV series, or visual effects.

With Maya 2017, Autodesk has unveiled a landmark release. Why? Well for a start the Arnold Render engine has been integrated to replace Mental Ray as Maya’s default render engine. This is the first fruit of the surprise acquisition of Solid Angle by Autodesk in earlier in the year.

Also we get to see more of the refining of Maya by Autodesk into making it a much more ‘friendly’ application, while losing none of the flexibility and grunt that Maya is known for as a digital content creator. Here in no particular order are our favourite new features.

01. Arnold integration

Arnold is now the default render solution for Maya

Let’s not kid ourselves, Arnold shipping with Maya is huge for so many reasons. For a start it gives Maya a bleeding-edge proven production renderer with a fantastic real time preview facility as well as some of the best AOV’s (render outputs if you’re old) options and full Arnold Standin support. While it still feels slightly like a third-party solution, the new Arnold menu and Render View are baby steps in the right direction.

02. UI enhancements

Dockable palettes in Maya 2017 make creating a custom workspace easy for new users

Near enough all of the main panels in Maya are now dockable. Say goodbye to window sprawl. While this may seem like a small feature, or one that should have happened a long time ago, it does prove that Autodesk is trying to make Maya friendlier to new users, and with the addition of new workspaces for different workflows, it’s becoming a lot less scary with Maya 2017.

03. Performance improvements

Open Sub-division performance is much improved in Maya 2017

Maya has never been a slouch compared with other DCC apps, especially since the introduction of Viewport 2.0, but with Maya 2017, things have got even better. A good example is that mesh editing performance is three-to-five times better in Maya 2017 compared to previous versions when working with Uniforms Open SubDivision geometry.

04. Motion graphics

MASH is even more tightly integrated into the Maya 2017 workflows

Even though MASH the motion graphics system for Maya developed by Mainframe North and then acquired by Autodesk had appeared in the last Maya 2016 extension. In Maya 2017, MASH gets even more tightly integrated. MASH and motion graphics now have their own dedicated shelves and the new Motion Editor Palette makes motion graphics and procedural modelling creation in Maya more straightforward than it is in other mograph-focused DCC applications.

05. Time Editor

The new Time Editor is an NLE for 3D

The new Time Editor is a non-linear editing system for Maya which allows non-destructive editing with both animation and audio data. The Time Editor is a bit different than other editors in Maya as the data needs to be added from the scene or imported from another source. With the ability to mix animation clips such as a walk and a crouch into one seamless move combined with a raft of editing options for the assets, the Time Editor can vastly improve your animation workflow.

06. Graph Editor

The Graph Editor is now fully GPU optimised

The Graph Editor has been been given a new GPU enhanced UI and is designed to have the same feel as the new Time Editor, once more showing Autodesk’s commitment to increasing Maya friendliness to new and existing users. Elements in the Graph Editor are now interactive, such as the Play range and time slider, and interaction is now all single click, making subtle animation changes much easy to refine.

07. Render Setup

The render setup system makes treating easy

The Render Setup functions allow a huge range of options in your scene to be rendered whichever way you want with different looks or animations. While it doesn’t work with legacy render layers, the new system offers a massive and more intuitive improvement. For example, for a scene with multiple still images, it is possible using render layers to make one render layer control the qualities of a material for a different look in one specific image, which is HUGE, if you are working iteratively with a client or just want to try out different looks and moves for the scene. It may take a little more time in to setup, but it is worth it.

08. Bifrost improvements

The BOSS ocean system is a key new feature in Maya 2017

The headline feature with Bifrost enhancement is the new BOSS (Bifrost Ocean Simulation System), this allow creates stunningly realistic interactive ocean sims which can be focused on only the areas where you need to see interaction. There are also improvements to the Foam system allowing much more realistic surface detail.

It is great to see Autodesk pushing the Bifrost system which comes as standard with Maya 2017, compared to many other DCC applications which depend on third-party solutions.

09. Quick Rig

Rig with a single click with Quick Rig

I hate rigging, it makes my head hurt. Thankfully Maya 2017 has an answer, the new Quick Rig tool, which can work with a single click on a mesh of a figure and rig it with pretty good results out of the box, as well as provide you with a rig UI to start animating. If the rig isn’t working just as you would want it, thankfully Maya 2017 has a range of excellent tools such as the Delta Mush tool to help rigging noobs (including myself) to help out.

10. Autodesk’s attitude

Maya resources are now available on

One of the best features of Maya 2017 is the way that Autodesk are re-embracing the Maya community and asking what new and existing users want and actually appearing to listen. Features like access to Maya specific content on, as well as improved feedback tools are great to see.

Big Positives:

1- Time Editor is a hudge improvement for animation, the possibilities are even higher, allowing to create, save, mix and edit animation clips.
2- Xgen, its really impressive the way Xgen is an easyer tool to work with, now you can keep hair descriptions as part of the scenes and the Interactive Groom System is a fast and more intuitive way to work with hair, it has only crashed once in my pc while cutting hair, but until now is been working much better than before.
3 – Arnold has a cute little addon called render view, wich allows to view in present time the viewport as a semi-final render… (this is a mix positive-negative review) i don’t really think this is a big plus, if you have enough ram you may easily create a final render in seconds with any other renderer or create a testing animation with playblast, but Arnold render view seems like a plus for some people by allowing a real time view, and this is almost the only big feature that Autodesk is trying to sell like a big improvement beside the nice renders, but remember, this was a renderer that people already could use if they like it by installing it to Maya… this brought more bad news than good news.

Big Negatives:

1- As a Mental Ray Fan and not an Arnold Fan, i am really upset that Nvidia is going to be an extra paid service for Mental Ray ussage at maya and a very expensive one, in the future you will require a license to use Mental Ray, what a shame! Autodesk insteed of improving Mental Ray, gave up and just took something else, a new philosophy that continuous to rule, pitifully… and i thought they were genius, a big company loosing confidence; many people may say Arnold is way better, why you need Mental Ray, i also think the same! but that leaves me with my second bad review:
2 – Arnold is a useless renderer for average users, because: no batch render! now you will require “another” paid license to batch render with Arnold, the new default out-of-the-box renderer for Maya, this means that if you already work with a paid third party render farm for your projects, the price will be much higher, now you will need to pay for the render farm and the extra license to Arnold, “render view” also crashes on some graphic cards and you can only use sequences, this leaves users only with the original default Maya Software which ironically does not support many of the anticipated and even older features… this is what really should have been improved, clearly Autodesk not suitable and not listening to the average customers.


Get Autodesk Maya here

Thanks to creative bloq

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