While many 3D artists work in solitude, live feedback from the rest of the studio is often vital for guiding projects to completion. However, this need for live feedback comes with its share of challenges when working with animation software like Autodesk Maya.
Maya dominates animation studios like Disney, Apple, and Pixar. So, it’s easy to see why there’s so much demand for remote collaboration tools compatible with this software.
Like any 3D animation software, Maya is CPU-heavy. Animators could collaborate using entry-level software like Zoom, but bandwidth-heavy Maya, as well as challenges like lag and screen share quality, can make using generalized video conferencing software difficult. Receiving remote, responsive feedback requires specialized solutions.
Fortunately, several tools and workarounds are available for collaborating successfully with Autodesk Maya. Below, we detail exactly how to mimic that in-studio experience so your team can build stunning animations together, even from afar.
Does Maya offer a native collaboration feature?
Animators are unique. They’re often working on sections of a project alone, even within the context of a larger team. However, when they need to collaborate remotely, there are few native options available in Autodesk Maya.
Maya’s reference editor feature can help you segment your work across a collaboration. You and another animator can share project files and assets across a local network or server, working on different sections simultaneously. However, you can’t work simultaneously on the same scene with this setup.
In terms of collecting feedback, Maya’s platform can annotate objects. However, your collaborators would need to know exactly where to find this feedback within the project.
Create together remotely, in real time
Tools that can help your team collaborate in Maya
Several third-party tools can help your team collaborate successfully in Maya. Use these tools to build animations from the ground up or share feedback across several assets.
If you’re looking for a one-and-done, real-time solution for getting feedback from stakeholders or other collaborators, Evercast is the professional choice for studios serious about quality workflow. This video streaming and communication platform is designed specifically for creative teams with unique needs for handling the hefty CPU cost of building animations.
Evercast provides ultra-low latency streaming (less than 150ms on average), allowing you to share video (up to 4K) and audio (up to 7.1 surround) of your Maya animations for real-time collaboration. It comes closest to an in-person experience, even letting you annotate and draw on precise nodes and objects.
- Real-time collaboration tools in one place: annotate, video conference, screen share, and comment live within a single suite
- Recording of sessions with timestamped notes
- No additional software or hardware requirements
- Encrypted, secure streaming with 24/7 white glove support
- Compatible with any animation software to cross-collaborate across Maya and beyond
- Slightly more expensive (though much more efficient) than separating streams across third-party tools
- Requires a one-time onboarding session for animators wanting to stream their workstations
Autodesk ShotGrid Create
Animators can send animation data from Maya to ShotGrid Create (previously known as Shotgun) with a simple click. ShotGrid is Autodesk’s project management software, and while it’s compatible with Maya, it comes at an additional cost.
Within the Shotgrid Create system, you can track shared goals, set deadlines, leave notes, and track your progress in real time. You can also track work separated by each animator from a bird’s eye view, which may make it easier for you to distribute workloads more efficiently.
Though you can watch and review media from any operating system, Shotgrid does not provide screen sharing or video conferencing capabilities.
- Integrates seamlessly with Maya
- Track real-time progress
- Set goals and send notes across a team of animators
- Somewhat outdated UI
- No video conferencing capabilities
- Steep learning curve
Unreal Live Link
Stream animation data to Unreal Live with the free Autodesk plugin. This way, you can create and adjust characters and objects in Maya while seeing the real-time results. Unreal also offers Unreal Engine, a native collaboration tool that lets your team members work simultaneously in the Unreal suite.
However, this plugin doesn’t permit access to Maya beyond the streamed data in Unreal Live. While it’s great for real-time visualization among team members, there aren’t any built-in tools to communicate while editing.
- See real-time animation changes and edits
- Offers access to all Unreal Engine users
- Free plugin
- Only useful for Unreal Live users
- No built-in notation or communication tools
Rokoko Studio plugin
This free plugin lets you stream your animation data to a compatible Rokoko Studio account for motion capture and additional animations. Within Rokoko, you can set up a compatible subscription plan for your team, selecting roles according to the needs of your studio.
Rokoko Studio allows certain team members to adjust animation assets within a centralized account. Others can view and leave feedback on completed assets.
Unfortunately, a real-time collaboration tool doesn’t seem to exist within the platform. As a result, you may need to augment your workflow with supplemented screen sharing or video conferencing software.
- Excellent motion capture capabilities
- Set different roles for seats on your team
- Free plugin
- No real-time collaboration
- Different roles come at various price points
Collaborate from anywhere
These alternatives should provide all you need to collaborate and build animations and 3D renders in Maya while working in different locations.
Want a better way to collaborate remotely with your team members and improve your creative process? Consider Evercast.
Evercast is an all-in-one platform where you can securely stream your work sessions in up to 4K, exchange notes, and chat face-to-face in real time with near-zero delay. Trusted by studio professionals, game developers, and more, Evercast helps creatives connect and bring their vision to life. Create an unparalleled in-studio experience for you and your team in just a few clicks. Learn more about plans and pricing.