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Title(s): MA format

Version ID: Maya 10.0

Date released: 2009 (10.0) / October 06, 2008

Creator(s): Alias Systems Corporation now owned by Autodesk

Contributor(s): see history

Relationships: - Culmination of three 3D software lines: Wavefront's The Advanced Visualizer (in California), Thomson Digital Image (TDI) Explore (in France) and Alias' Power Animator (in Canada). In 1993 Wavefront purchased TDI, and in 1995

  • Previous Version(s): Not Available
  • Contains: None
  • Syntax Format(s): Binary Hexidecimal
  • Family Format(s): None


A node based format, where a node is an such as camera angles, lighting descriptions, meshes, transformations, NURBS, polys, and SubDivs, etc. Subset of the MEL (Maya Embedded Language) format used for scripting in Maya.

History: In 1993 Wavefront purchased TDI, and in 1995 Silicon Graphics Incorporated (SGI) purchased both Alias and Wavefront, producing a single product line, used for films such as Jurassic Park, The Abyss and Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Alias' "Maya" architecture,was merge Wavefront's code with it, and upon its release in 1998, Alias|Wavefront discontinued all previous animation-based software lines including Alias Power Animator, encouraging consumers to upgrade to Maya. Alias|Wavefront was renamed Alias. In 2003, Alias was sold by SGI to the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan and the private equity investment firm Accel-KKR. In October 2005, Alias was sold again, this time to Autodesk, and on January 10, 2006, Autodesk completed the acquisition and Alias Maya is now known as Autodesk Maya.


createNode transform -n "sphere";
        setAttr ".s" -type "double3" 2.44 2.44 2.44;
        setAttr ".t" -type "double3" -6.96 0 6.9;

createNode nurbsSurface -n "sphereShape" -p "sphere";
        setAttr ".tw" yes;
        setAttr ".rtw" yes;
        setAttr ".ipo" no


Documentation: Robust modeling format with support for NURBS, polys, and SubDivs. Also, incoporates a scirpting language MEL, and has support for dynamics, and simulations.

File Extensions: .ma, .mb for binary


  • Native application(s): Autodesk Maya
  • Interoperable applications:

Magic numbers:

Format(s): .ma ASCII human readable, .mb compressed binary version of .ma

Rights: Proprietary license

Sustainability Factors:

  • Standardization: Proprietary but well documented
  • Adoption:
    • Licensing and patent claims: None
  • Self-documentation: None
  • External dependencies: None.
  • Technical protection considerations: None

Typical use: 3D rendering, animation, simulation

File classification:

  • Type {Binary, Text}: ASCII
  • Raster data:
    • Raster data 2D:
      • Is Supported: true
    • Raster data 3D:
      • Is Supported: true
  • Geometric representation:
    • Implicit representation:
      • Implicit surfaces:
        • Is Supported: true
      • Implicit curves:
        • Is Supported: ture
      • Point set:
        • Is Supported: true
    • Mesh:
      • Manifold surface meshes:
        • Is Supported: true
      • Manifold volume meshes:
        • Is Supported: true
      • Non-manifold meshes:

    • Parametric representation:
      • Parametric surfaces:
        • Is Supported: true
      • Parametric curves:
        • Is Supported: true
    • Contour sets:
      • Is Supported: true
    • NURBS:
      • Is Supported: true
    • SubDivs:
      • Is Supported: true
  • Multi-resolution models:
    • Is Supported: true
  • Dynamics:
    • Kinematics:
      • Is Supported: true
    • Assembly:
      • Is Supported: Not sure
    • Force(s):
      • Is Supported: true
  • Boundary representation
    • Manifold surface boundary representations:
      • Is Supported: true
    • Manifold volume boundary representations:
      • Is Supported: true
    • Non-manifold boundary representations:
      • Is Supported: Not sure
  • Material transparency:
    • Is Supported: true
    • Description: multiple surface traits are expressible