Latest Updates Focus on Improving Ease of Use and Performance

Autodesk said the new versions of 3ds Max, Maya, MotionBuilder, Mudbox, and Softimage, along with the 2015 Entertainment Creation Suite, will be released on April 14.

"Our strongest releases in many years, the 2015 versions put more creative power back into the hands of the artists," said Chris Bradshaw, Autodesk senior VP for media and entertainment, in a prepared statement. "We redesigned core parts of our applications, focusing on performance, ease of use, and innovative new tools, like Bifrost, that make it simpler to do complex tasks."

Bifrost is a new procedural effects platform based on the former Naiad liquid simulation technology (which Autodesk purchased back in 2012) that's designed to simplify complex simulation and rendering tasks in Maya 2015. Autodesk says liquid sims represent the initial application of Bifrost, so keep an eye out to see if the technology is used for other types of sims in future software releases. 

Also new in Maya 2015 is the XGen Arbitrary Primitive Generator for hair, fur and foliage. Modeling capabilities are being boosted through deeper integration of the NEX modeling technology introduced in Maya 2014. This version adds Geodesic Voxel Binding for skinning characters; the new, node-based ShaderFX interface for shader programming, OpenSubdiv support, enhanced polygon modeling tools and more UV options.

3ds Max 2015 gets its own version of ShaderFX, as well as point-cloud support for capturing reference from the real world, performance improvements in the viewport, a new scene explorer, ActiveShade support for Nvidia mental ray, and Python scripting support for customized pipeline integration. 

MotionBuilder 2015 is getting a new plug-in for the Microsoft Kinect motion-capture device, animatable depth of field and follow-focus camera options, and a content library stocked with 100 common character animations in FBX format.

Mudbox 2015 has new Sculpt Layer and Paint Layer groups for organizing layers in complex scenes, including the ability to toggle visiblity or duplicate multiple layers, and streamlined mesh refinement for retopologizing tasks. Roundtripping between Mudbox and Maya is new, with the ability to easily send single- and multi-tile UV and Ptex textures back and forth.

Softimage 2015 is getting a modest update, with Alembic caching, enhancements to Softimage's ICE platform, and the ability to animatle weight maps in Syflex cloth simulations. Unfortunately, those are the last new features Softimage will ever see — as previously reported, Softimage is being discontinued with this release and users are being advised to take a free migration path to either Maya or 3ds Max.