Maya LT 2020 is 'one of the best 3D modeling and animation packages out there'

Feb 11, 2020 at 10:00 am by nemirc

Maya LT 2020 Review

Last December, Autodesk released Maya LT 2020, and, as always, I am curious to see what's new and what has improved from the previous version.

A while ago, my main focus was purely animation, and character animation. This changed when I got into game development, as now I have to focus on all aspects of 3D art. However, I still pay a lot of attention to animation, so I found the new “Auto snap” setting welcome. As you animate, you usually need to retime animations, moving keys around and also scaling up/down a set of keys (from either the Dope Sheet, Graph Editor or the Timeline itself). Now, with that setting activated, when you scale up/down a set of keys, they are snapped to whole frames (meaning that you no longer end up with a keyframe at frame 34.56, for example).

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Maya LT 2020 also includes the Remesh and Retopologize commands I covered in a previous article about Maya 2019. This feature is pretty much the same I covered before, except that you now have access to this from a menu. As I mentioned in my article, this can be very useful in some situations, but, for organic figures, I haven't tried a method that allows me to get a nice geometry.

I'd say there are no more "bigger" features, but that's expected. As you know, Maya LT is aimed at game developers, so it focuses on modeling, texturing and animation.

Still, I think Maya LT could benefit a lot from some of the Maya features (I understand other Maya LT users may not experience these limitations, maybe because they didn't rely so heavily on them, or because Maya LT was the first version they used). For example, file references in Maya LT would make animation retargeting a far cleaner process, and being able to create more than 2 animation layers would be more than welcome.

Another small feature is the volume slider on the timeline, allowing you to tweak the volume of the sound clip you imported onto the timeline. While this is a small feature, it's a nice one since you don't need to adjust the volume of those clips externally.

In the Graph Editor, now you can change the colors of some more elements, like the Play Range Shade, and you can also select a “theme” for the window. The themes are a nice addition, but anyone who wanted to change the colors would have done it already. However, I think the extra elements in the color customization can be good, since it makes it easier to understand other things (like in the case of the Play Range Shade).

There are other small features, but they are mostly visualization features (like allowing to display bigger keyframe dots in the Graph Editor) and performance improvements. I am not entirely familiar with the 3D modeling advancements in other arenas, but do know that other applications have improved in areas like UV mapping and even Boolean modeling. I understand Boolean operations in Maya have improved, but I got so used to avoid them for being buggy that now I don't use them anymore (and, thanks to the retopology tools, it is easy to fix the Boolean's topology).

Also, Autodesk acquired the now-defunct Softimage, and Softimage's Face Robot is still far superior to pretty much all facial animation software out there. Face Robot was a high-end facial animation app and may not benefit all indies, but Maya LT (and also Maya or 3D Studio Max) is used by studios of all sizes, and they would benefit all of their user base if to tool was re-released.

I do welcome the small additions to Maya LT, and I see a lot them to be very beneficial, but I also see some functionality that I would like this software to have.

If you are not a Maya users, overall I would tell you to try Maya LT out, since I think it's one of the best 3D modeling and animation packages out there (if you already have a subscription, and specially a three-year subscription, chances are you are already using Maya LT 2020). You can get Maya LT on a subscription model: $30 for a monthly subscription, $250 for a yearly subscription, or $675 for a three-year subscription.

Maya LT: https://www.autodesk.com/products/maya-lt/overview




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