Maya Paint Effects
at a Glance

Publisher: Alias|Wavefront
Price: $499
URL: http://www.aliaswave

Overall Impression: This plugin creates some stunning effects directly within Adobe After Effects, unlike anything you've seen in a compositing application.

Key Benefits: The level of detail and functionality in Paint Effect is truly extraordinary. It's incredibly simple to use, and it's easy to construct complex effects with just a few Bezier curves.

Disappointments: There's some serious render time involved with this plugin.

Recommendation: Strong Buy.


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Alias|Wavefront Maya Paint Effects

Special effects for Adobe After Effects

by David Nagel
Executive Producer
[email protected]

Most of you will recall the announcement several months back that Alias|Wavefront will be porting its high-end 3D package, Maya, to OS X. What you might not know is that, in the interim, they've released a whole new package for current versions of the Mac OS. It's not a 3D rendering package like Maya. Rather, it's a plugin for Adobe After Effects 4.1—Maya Paint Effects.

It's difficult to figure out where to begin with this plugin, as it's unlike anything else on the market. It comes with two filters, one for rendering various effects, the other for writing them on the canvas. I'll discuss the PFX Write-on plugin later. First, let's take a look at PFX Stroke.

Basically, this filter uses Bezier curves to draw strokes along a path (or along the normal). But what you get really can't be defined as a "stroke" in most cases. It's more like 3D objects growing from, around and toward a path.

Confused? Actually it's quite simple.

Take a look at this picture. (You can click on it to see a QuickTime movie.)

QuickTime 13 MBMPEG 488 KB

Click image to see a QuickTime movie.

This image of a lioness is a screen shot of a QuickTime movie created in After Effects using Maya Paint Effects. I started with a desert landscape, plopped a picture of the lioness on top of it and rendered out some effects between the two. The waterfall, for example, is just a single Bezier curve with a flowing Liquid effect applied to it, along with some rising smoke to simulate spray. The tree and fern leaves in the foreground were similarly created with a single Bezier curve each, with some turbulence applied to simulate a breeze. In other words, I didn't have to draw Bezier curves for each individual branch or leaf. I just drew a curve to represent the origin. Maya Paint Effects then handled the rest.

Got it? It's really that simple.

The effects
The example above shows just four of the natural effects included with Maya Paint Effects. In total, the plugin ships with 200 brushes in 29 categories, each of which can be used with either the Stroke or Write-on filter. (I should note that additional brushes are available for download from one of our own sites, High End 3D, which has become the official repository for these addons. They're in ZIP files, but they work with the Mac version.)

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