Maya Student Edition Vs Maya Unlimited – How Are They Different?

Maya Unlimited 2009 is the latest version from Autodesk of the industry leading software for visual effects artists and animators. Most 3D companies these days, large and small, use Maya software in one form or another, so as a student looking to gain a job on graduation it makes sense to understand and begin to master this software package.

The Student Edition of Maya has dropped in price dramatically over the last few years, which has meant that it is far more accessible for students, teachers and academic institutions to purchase. Which makes sense really, after all, the more students and universities there are that teach and use Maya, the more widely used the software becomes. It also helps to combat the use of cracked version of the software which most folks don’t want to use, as it’s unethical and they’re often full of bugs and crash regularly.

When considering purchasing the Maya Student Edition, the first question that comes to mind often is, “how different is it from the normal commercial version of Maya Unlimited?”

Contains All The Maya Unlimited Modules

Well, essentially it is exactly the same. It comes with all the normal modules in Maya Unlimited like Maya Fluid Effects, Maya nCloth, Maya nParticles, Maya Live, Maya Fur, and Maya Hair (I’ve actually been using Maya Hair recently for some simple animation tests and it’s amazingly fast – much better than in 2008…for simple stuff it literally plays back in real-time, so it’s perfect for student projects where you don’t want to get bogged down in huge rendering and simulation times). You can purchase a student edition of Maya Complete, but to be honest there’s less than a $50 difference between it and the academic Unlimited version, so you’re better off with Unlimited in my view.

The Maya Student Edition lets you save out files and images without a watermark, which is great because the old PLE version used to be pretty horrible for that, and I know the XSI student version used to have some writing at the top of your renders and playblasts (not sure if they still do). After all, your work is going to go on your showreel to try and get you a job…you don’t want “property of Autodesk” splashed all over it do you? So the whole watermark thing is a great change.

The 2 Major Differences

The only difference between the Maya Unlimited commercial version and the Maya Student Edition is that obviously you can’t use the student version to make money – i.e. you can’t use it to produce freelance projects where you get paid or receive some monetary benefit.

There’s also a licensing difference between the student and commercial versions. The basic student license lasts for about 14 months…a perpetual license can be purchased for double the price so it really depends on your situation.

Bonus Student Discount

Overall, I definitely think it is worth buying the Maya Student Edition as it also qualifies you for a significant discount on the commercial upgrade later on (50% discount), should you decide to purchase it and go into business for yourself.