Maya Graphic Design

Maya Graphic Design

Autodesk Maya, or simply Maya (Sanskrit word for "illusion"), is a high-end 3D computer graphics and 3D modeling software package originally developed by Alias Systems Corporation, but now owned by Autodesk as part of the Media and Entertainment division. Autodesk acquired the software in October 2005 upon purchasing Alias. Maya is used in the film and TV industry, as well as for computer and video games, architectural visualisation and design.

In 2003, Maya (then owned by Alias|Wavefront) won an Academy Award "for scientific and technical achievement", citing use "on nearly every feature using 3-D computer-generated images."


Maya is the culmination of three 3D software lines: Wavefront's The Advanced Visualizer (in California), Thomson Digital Image (TDI) Explore (in France) and Alias' Power Animator (in Canada). In 1993 Wavefront purchased TDI, and in 1995 Silicon Graphics Incorporated (SGI) purchased both Alias and Wavefront (due to pressure from Microsoft's purchase of Softimage earlier that year) and combined them into one working company, producing a single package from their collective source code. The combined company was referred to as Alias|Wavefront. In the mid-1990s, the most popular pipeline in Hollywood films was a combination of tools: Alias Studio for modeling, Softimage for animation, and PhotoRealistic RenderMan for rendering. This combination was used for numerous films, such as Jurassic Park, The Abyss and Terminator 2: Judgement Day. It took Alias|Wavefront two more years after the merger to release Maya.

Both Alias and Wavefront were working on their next generation of software at the time of the merger. Alias had taken a Macintosh product, "Alias Sketch!", moved it to the SGI platform and added many features to it. The code name for this project was "Maya", the Sanskrit term for "illusion." Maya was developed in close collaboration with Walt Disney Feature Animation, during the production of Dinosaur, and the GUI was all customizable as a requirement from Disney so they could set up their own GUI and workflow based on decades of animation experience. This had a large impact on the openness of Maya and later also helped the software become an industry standard, since many facilities implement extensive proprietary customization of the software to gain competitive advantage.

It was then decided to adopt Alias' "Maya" architecture, and merge Wavefront's code with it.

In the early days of development, Maya used Tcl as the scripting language. After the merger, there was debate amongst those who supported Tcl, Perl and Sophia. Sophia was much faster than the others and won out. However, once error checking was added, it ended up being equally slow.

Upon its release in 1998, Alias|Wavefront discontinued all previous animation-based software lines including Alias Power Animator, encouraging consumers to upgrade to Maya. It succeeded in expanding its product line to take over a great deal of market share, with leading visual effects companies such as Industrial Light and Magic and Tippett Studio switching from Softimage to Maya for the animation software.

Later, Alias|Wavefront was renamed Alias. In 2003, Alias was sold by SGI to the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan and the private equity investment firm Accel-KKR. In October 2005, Alias was sold again, this time to Autodesk, and on January 10, 2006, Autodesk completed the acquisition and Alias Maya is now known as Autodesk Maya.