Autodesk Maya

Version2022(as of 7/28/2021)
PlatformsWindows, Mac, Linux
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Rating:2.6  |  59 Votes

Main Features

  • Animate 3D scenes with keyframe, procedural, and scripted animation tools
  • Create realistic smoke, fire, explosions, water, and mud effects
  • Simulate cloth and hair that interacts with outside forces
  • Programmatically generate models and effects using Bifrost visual programming
  • Use Maya Embedded Language macros to automate complex tasks
  • Add skins to models quickly with Geodesic Voxel Binding

Software Overview

Screenshot of Autodesk Maya 2022
Screenshot of Autodesk Maya 2022

Autodesk Maya is a powerful 3D modeling and animation studio available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Professional animators, students, and teachers use Maya to create and animate 3D scenes, for use in video games, films, motion graphics, and television shows. While professionals must pay for Maya, students and teachers can access the program for free for one year.

Maya provides many features animators can use to create detailed, realistic models that move and interact accurately within 3D environments. For example, you can add fur and hair to your models, and Maya will accurately simulate each individual hair's response to collisions and other physical forces. You can also create realistic cloth, liquid, and particle animations.

After you've mastered Maya's basic features, you can dive deep into its (many) advanced features. One of Maya's most powerful advanced features is the Bifrost visual programming environment, which allows animators to programmatically create, shape, and animate their models. Bifrost is especially useful for creating graphs, which simulate many-particle effects such as snowstorms, dust storms, and explosions. Maya also includes a Camera Sequencer, which animators can use to quickly link animations recorded from different camera angles, and the ability to create and execute custom macros, written as Maya Embedded Language (.MEL) scripts.

Maya renders scenes using Autodesk's Arnold rendering library, which can perform both CPU and GPU rendering and allows animators to view high-quality previews of what their finished scenes will look like. Arnold also allows animators to quickly iterate on their scenes' appearance, if they are unhappy with a particular render.


While Autodesk Maya is a powerful, comprehensive 3D animation tool, it may be too complex and expensive for those who do not possess the time and money needed to use the program to its fullest. Windows users who are looking for a simpler (but not cheaper) 3D modeling and animation tool may want to check out Autodesk 3ds Max instead. However, those who are willing to take the time to master Maya will learn why it is the tool of choice for many professional animators and animation studios.

Primary File Type

ma icon.MAMaya ASCII Scene

Supported File Types

ExtensionFile Type
.MAMaya ASCII Scene
.AIAdobe Illustrator File
.ANIMMaya Animation File
.BIFBifrost Mesh Cache
.BVHBiovision Hierarchy Animation File
.DAEDigital Asset Exchange File
.DWGAutoCAD Drawing File
.DXFDrawing Exchange Format File
.EPSEncapsulated PostScript File
.FACEFXFaceFX Actor File
.FBXAutodesk FBX Interchange File
.FLTOpenFlight Scene Description File
.FXAOC3 Entertainment FaceFX Actor File
.IAMInventor Assembly
.IGESIGES Drawing File
.JTJT Open CAD File
.MBMaya Binary Scene
.MCFIMaya Initial Fluid Cache File
.MCFPMaya Fluid Cache Playback File
.MELMaya Embedded Language Script
.MPMaya PLE Project File
.MTLOBJ Material Template Library File
.OBJWavefront 3D Object File
.SATACIS SAT 3D Model File
.SKLMaya Skeleton File
.SPTSpeedTree Tree Data File
.STLStereolithography File
.USDUniversal Scene Description Format
.ZTMental Ray Image Depth File

Additional Related File Types

ExtensionFile Type
.IVOpen Inventor Scene Graph File
.MATV-Ray Materials File
.MDDPoint Oven Deformation Data File
.MLLMaya Plugin
.X_TParasolid Model Part File
Updated 7/28/2021