Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Autodesk buys Alias

The word is out and it looks like the landscape of the digital animation world is about to shift dramatically, at least from a tools perspective. I wonder if this one will get past the anti-trust watchdogs? Both Max and Maya have gotten along a bit in years and they're both in serious need of a complete re-design from the inside out. They each have strong points, but they also each have glaring weaknesses that drive their user bases absolutely ape. Wouldn't it be just amusing to see Autodesk combine the worst of both programs to create a witches brew of a CG program? Like only having Character Studio, Maya's poly tools, the default Maya renderer all running in Max's slow as poo OpenGL interface? And they mix MEL script and Maxscript syntax to create the new language MEXscript? I can hear the screams of tens of thousands of Cg artists and technicians now. Heh. There's enough slop in both programs as is to create the world's worst CG software. I think it'd be fun to see them do it just for giggles. Of course my upgrade dollars would appreciate it if they took the best of both and made a killer app, but something tells me that's far too much to wish for.

On a side note, this has to be the best news the folks over at XSi have heard in years.

I for one don't like the idea of this merger. Less competition NEVER benefits the customer. And as a digital animator/filmmaker, I am that customer.

5 comments:

Brenton said...

Interesting. Hopefully they'll have something awesome, like 3ds for Mac (yes, I realize that would only happen if they merged Max into Maya for Mac), by the time I get back into 3d. I learned on rev. 3 in high school, and played around a bit up through 5. (Coming to college in LA has got me into handdrawn). As a matter of fact, the only reason I have Windows is so I have the ability to use Max, so I would really love to see an innovative Mac 3d tool come out of this. That's a random rant from me.

More importantly, I hope they don't kill off Alias' other great products. They own tablet art right now with Sketchbook, and what started out with a very niche user base is becoming a formidable tool as they add features like Transform and PSD support. It's a graet piece of software, and I'd hate to see it get killed when it still has so much potential.

Pascal said...

I saw a lot of real sadness on the CGTalk forum.
You would think that a tool is just a tool, but most people see it differently. They may not like the buggy side of their app, but it is still their tool.

I wonder what the reaction from the bigger studios will be.
Are they going to move with Alias under the Autodesk roof or looking at other apps?

Maybe there is going to be a mayor move back to Softimage, which was abandoned massively a after the prolonged introduction of Sumatra/XSI.

How long will Maya survive under Autodesk rule? Gradually all books, tutorials and DVD's will become 'useless'.

And I wanted to buy a couple of Maya-specific DVD/book titles. I will keep my money for now and see where this thing is heading.

Brenton said...

The big studios all have Software Engineers. The ones that use Maya as a core will code Maya knockoffs that are compatible with their pipelines. I asked aomeone at a studio once about patents/copyrights and inhouse software, and he said as long as its in-house, it can use whatever patented code they want without penalty.

Butch said...

I am primarily a Mac user, so Autodesk acquiring Alias does get under my skin bit, because of their historic lack of support of the Macintosh platform. That little thing aside I do, to an extent, agree with Pascal in that they are all just tools. Having worked pretty extensively with Maya and XSI and less with Max on Windows, OS X and Linux I, personally just prefer Alias' approach to interface design with Maya, specifically on OS X, which is radically different than the other full pipeline 3D apps available. The OS X Maya interface is just a cleaner, more finished, better thought out iteration of the Maya interface which makes a big difference for me in working.

While I definitely like the Poly modeling tools in Max I just don't like the interface. The same thing goes for XSI; I like the character rigging tools and guides, but I hate the interface. Obviously, I don't totally agree with Keith in saying the Maya interface is outdated. Having mentioned all of this I think that Maya user's will ultimately make out better for a couple of reasons; If Autodesk was satisfied with their offerings in the entertainment area (3DSMax) why spend $182 million acquiring a company that produces their top selling product to the same market? Why months earlier totally eliminate the separate structure that was in place for the Entertainment division (formerly Discreet) if there weren't major changes in the wind? I do think that both Maya and 3DstudioMAX will be dissolved and a new product will emerge with a sinful amount of promotion and quite a bit of user, primarily studio, input on features. However I do think the foundation/interface of the app will primarily come from Maya. It's no secret that Autodesk has coveted the entertainment market for quite some time and even after acquiring Discreet, renaming it's entertainment division after it and attempting to intertwine Max with Discreet compositing packages AutoDesk was still was still largely shunned by film and broadcast in the States. To add insult to injury the games market, which had been Max’s birthright, is now being successfully pursued by both Maya and XSI.

To my way of thinking it's very possible that the last several months of changes at AutoDesk represent them attempting to release the entrenched mentality they acquired with AutoCAD and tried to carry on with MAX, but that's just my 2cents.

Butch said...

I also tend to think that this kind of merger will make room for other solutions to ste up like Lightwave, Cinema 4D, XSI, the forthcomiing Luxology full pipeline tool, and the re-introduced Mirai.