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Autodesk Says It's Killing Softimage Development, Support

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the future-hazier-and-hazier dept.

Graphics 85

An anonymous reader writes "Autodesk has announced that after the 2015 version of Softimage, which is scheduled for release next April, it will no longer provide software support. The publisher has confirmed the rumors last month, according to which Autodesk intends to terminate its software for 3D modeling and animation. 'We regret to inform you that the next version of Softimage 2015 will be the last,' can be read on the Autodesk website. 'This latest version will be released around April 14, 2014. Autodesk will continue to provide support for up to 30 April 2016. '"

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Autodesk has 3 Animation packages (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46436213)

Autodesk has 3 Animation packages: Maya, Softimage, 3d MAX. Autodesk long ago promised to consolidate all 3 packages into one.

Re:Autodesk has 3 Animation packages (1)

Alan Warrick (3422939) | about 6 months ago | (#46436243)

Autodesk has 3 Animation packages: Maya, Softimage, 3d MAX. Autodesk long ago promised to consolidate all 3 packages into one.

I'm not really in the know about the software packages but from my perspective it looked like once they acquired all 3 they basically dramatically slowed new features anyhow.http://tech.slashdot.org/story/14/03/08/217202/autodesk-says-its-killing-softimage-development-support#

Re:Autodesk has 3 Animation packages (1)

alen (225700) | about 6 months ago | (#46436333)

at some point every product category sees a slowing of new features in new releases
look at desktop OS's, smartphones, etc

Re:Autodesk has 3 Animation packages (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 6 months ago | (#46437383)

"at some point every product category sees a slowing of new features in new releases look at desktop OS's, smartphones, etc"

Yes, but it tends to slow more when a relative monopoly gets control of the market.

When Intel pretty much owned the desktop CPU market, innovation was slow and CPUs were very expensive. When others like AMD started to compete in the x86 market, things started moving much faster and getting lots cheaper.

It's called competition in a free market, man. It works.

You may have noticed that now AMD has started dragging ass in the desktop CPU market, Intel hasn't been improving as fast as well.

Sure, there are technological obstacles to overcome today, but that has always been the case. Competition helps the market. We need a competitor for Intel desktop chips, because desktops are not going away any time soon.

Re:Autodesk has 3 Animation packages (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 6 months ago | (#46437623)

I should qualify this.

Autodesk does not have a monopoly on 3D rendering or animation by any means, but it now owns a lot more of the market than it once did.

Blender and others are still doing just fine.

Re:Autodesk has 3 Animation packages (2)

Berkyjay (1225604) | about 6 months ago | (#46437959)

Autodesk easily holds the vast share of feature film/TV/Game development market. Modo is probably a distant second with Blender only really being used in a pre-viz capacity in any major or even mid-sized studio. Maya by far has the largest share of that market, followed by 3DSMax, and then XSI. So I would argue against that point of Blender and others doing just fine.

Re:Autodesk has 3 Animation packages (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 6 months ago | (#46438087)

Blender IS doing just fine. It isn't "competing" in the normal sense with May or those others.

Re:Autodesk has 3 Animation packages (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 6 months ago | (#46438129)

s/May/Maya

Re:Autodesk has 3 Animation packages (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 6 months ago | (#46440981)

You still can't beat Houdini on certain things, I believe. And it's also my understanding that SideFX are trying to push it into classical animation and modeling area. Their engine certainly seems fully capable in that field.

Re:Autodesk has 3 Animation packages (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 6 months ago | (#46437757)

Sometimes this slowing down is an especially good thing as it makes a more dependable product.... unfortunately MS didn't slow down Windows development fast enough, so we got left with this Metro garbage

Re:Autodesk has 3 Animation packages (1)

Pino Grigio (2232472) | about 6 months ago | (#46440265)

Whilst we're bitching about Autodesk, someone needs to tell them that their "new" file format, FBX, is an incomprehensible mess.

Re: Autodesk has 3 Animation packages (1)

MrResistor (120588) | about 6 months ago | (#46441459)

This. FBX is terrible. The best I can say about it is that it's not quite as bad as Microsoft's OpenXML formats.

Re: Autodesk has 3 Animation packages (1)

Pino Grigio (2232472) | about 6 months ago | (#46444203)

Ah. So I'm not the only who's tried to write a converter from FBX to (whatever) and found myself under a gigantic pile of spaghetti without any sauce.

Re:Autodesk has 3 Animation packages (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 6 months ago | (#46436347)

SoftImage was king. Alias Wavefront was a powerful contender, with different strengths and weaknesses.

Microsoft bought SoftImage, as a part of the effort to displace high-end Unix workstations with PC's running NT. It was all over, but the shouting. Alias transformed Wavefront into Maya in roughly this timeframe, while MS starved out "dot release" life support on SoftImage...

Re: Autodesk has 3 Animation packages (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46436807)

I'll start worrying when they come for my Sculpt 4d

Re: Autodesk has 3 Animation packages (2)

Rational (1990) | about 6 months ago | (#46437247)

Sorry to nitpick, but Alias|Wavefront combined Alias PowerAnimator and Wavefront Dynamation into Maya. Wavefront was a company, not a product.

Re: Autodesk has 3 Animation packages (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 6 months ago | (#46440907)

Right you are. Being on the SoftImage side, that chronology is fuzzier to me.

Still have an Indigo R4400 Elan here, under the desk...

Re:Autodesk has 3 Animation packages (1)

Assmasher (456699) | about 6 months ago | (#46439619)

It was all over, but the shouting. Alias transformed Wavefront into Maya in roughly this timeframe, while MS starved out "dot release" life support on SoftImage...

Total horsesh**.

I worked at SoftImage when Microsoft owned it and left shortly after Sumatra (which became XSi.)

SoftImage was breaking new ground constantly during this period and reacting to Maya competitively as well (at this point the two packages were for two different types of users but were converging rapidly.) Micro$oft owned the company, and NT was most definitely a target platform in addition to Irix, but from a feature set point of view it was all driven by industry desires and those desired were especially well expressed by the excellent product managers who were absolute experts.

Non linear animation editing, tile based distributed rendering, intelligent automated render farming, a game development art pipeline SDK, caustics, awesome mental ray integration, integrated FK/IK, physics, integration points with Digital Studio (SoftImage's non-linear video editor) - tons of other great new stuff.

You really shouldn't belittle the incredible work and efforts of so many people on something so complex that came out so well as "starved out 'dot release' life support."

Re:Autodesk has 3 Animation packages (1)

Pope (17780) | about 6 months ago | (#46445825)

Maya was a ground up replacement for PowerAnimator, which had gotten rather bloated and kludgy compared to SoftImage (at the time).

Or as we Alias people used to call it, Soft Fromage :P

... because the competition was not there ! (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 6 months ago | (#46436525)

... from my perspective it looked like once they acquired all 3 they basically dramatically slowed new features

Autodesk can afford to do that because the competitors didn't move forward fast enough.

In the 3D scene *_all_* software package development have slowed to a crawl. You think Autodesk could afford to do what they do if their competitors forge ahead at neck-breaking speed ?

Re:... because the competition was not there ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46438293)

At $NZ11,995 for a single seat of Maya? (from a New Zealand reseller) Fuck yes.

Re:... because the competition was not there ! (1)

brit74 (831798) | about 6 months ago | (#46441535)

You know that Autodesk buys up their competitors, don't you? It sucks. Softimage was a competitor, and they were selling for a lot less than 3d Max. It seems to me that Autodesk accomplished what it set-out to do by buying Softimage: to eliminate a competitor. It doesn't matter what they do with it afterwards, getting rid of a "fast moving" competitor who was selling at a much-lower cost was the goal.

Longtime Softimage Users Are Stunned By The News (5, Informative)

dryriver (1010635) | about 6 months ago | (#46436295)

Autodesk bought Softimage XSI for cheap, and just killed it to remove competition from their flagship products 3DMAX and MAYA. There is a huge thread about this over on cgsociety.org: http://forums.cgsociety.org/sh... [cgsociety.org] ...Basically, anybody who built their studio pipeline around Softimage XSI, including many indy game developers, is royally screwed. Softimage's most powerful feature "ICE" (a multithreaded, node-based visual programming language that lets even non-programmers build custom tools and functions inside Softimage) is being migrated to Autodesk Maya instead. Its going to be called "Bifrost", as it is the "second coming" of Softimage ICE. Many Softimage users are wondering what other 3D software they can migrate to. Many are considering migrating to SideFX's "Houdini" (http://www.sidefx.com/), which is a very powerful procedural-animation software used extensively in some of the most complex VFX shots you see in Hollywood films, like the character shatter effects in TRON LEGACY. Some are considering moving to the open-source Blender 3D software, to escape from Autodesk's business policies completely. Basically, Autodesk bought Softimage, slowly killed it, ripped out the best bits, and is now forcing Softimage users to migrate to either 3DMAX or Maya, which are Autodesk's cash cows in the Media & Entertainment division. A lot of people are very pissed off about this. But this is hardly the first time Autodesk has killed a successful product (e.g. the once-excellent Autodesk Combustion), because it didn't make enough money for Autodesk's profit hungry shareholders. A sad day for Softimage XSI users. It has powered films ranging from the first Jurrassic Park to the recent LEGO movie. It was particularly strong at pulling off complex character animation, including complex muscle-and-sliding-skin simulations (e.g. the all-CG primates in "Dawn Of The Planet Of The APES"). XSI was a good CG software. It will be sorely missed by many... If Blender can get its UI overhaul right in the next release, some XSI users may migrate to the open-source software.

Re:Longtime Softimage Users Are Stunned By The New (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 6 months ago | (#46436357)

Interesting, your take on SoftImage as related to the games world. XSI was after my folks were all driven away by the 3.x taper...

Re:Longtime Softimage Users Are Stunned By The New (1)

Assmasher (456699) | about 6 months ago | (#46439639)

Yes, that 3.x line did seem to go on 4-ev-er but we tried to get Sumatra out as best we could... Many cold nights unburying my car in Montreal at 2AM so I could drive home to Laval - at least with no traffic!

Re:Longtime Softimage Users Are Stunned By The New (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46436721)

Is SoftImage responsible for all the incredibly unrealistic inertia and gravity models we've seen in EVERY film that ever used CGI? Why is nobody talking about this? Why was Gollum in LOTR so realistic when motionless, but as soon as he jumped off a ledge, his CGI nature was instantly revealed, due to the unrealistic inertia and gravity models?

Re:Longtime Softimage Users Are Stunned By The New (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46437347)

I guarantee that's because of directors and/or supervisors. There's nothing procedural about the inertia or gravity of animated characters--they're either hand animated or adopted from motion capture (or a blend of the two). Motion capture can be tough because it only helps if the proportions, shape, and size match your CG character. It's awkward to motion capture a human and for a 100 foot tall, 7 headed hydra. Where the bad inertia and gravity show up is when directors and supervisors ask that things move slower or faster to match what they have in their head--regardless if it's realistic.

Re:Longtime Softimage Users Are Stunned By The New (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | about 6 months ago | (#46443539)

Yeah I just finished a shot with butterflies. They looked perfect but "Felt too frenetic" so they got slower... and slower... and slower... now they fly in slow motion and are approved. In real life they would fall out of the sky like bricks.

Re:Longtime Softimage Users Are Stunned By The New (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46437379)

Inertia and gravity are easy to duplicate and are perfectly fine in any commercial-quality CG. The problem you may see doesn't come from physics, it may just be that those motions are extremely complex. Or perhaps they look fine and you are wrong. Many people are easily fooled about the nature of a CG image (that is, they tend to qualify as bad CGI anything that doesn't look 'good' to them, including real images and actors). Part of the issue comes from the language of film, where things that don't look film-like or TV-like are considered 'unrealistic', even if they are actually closer to reality.

Re:Longtime Softimage Users Are Stunned By The New (4, Informative)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 6 months ago | (#46438381)

Is SoftImage responsible for all the incredibly unrealistic inertia and gravity models we've seen in EVERY film that ever used CGI? Why is nobody talking about this? Why was Gollum in LOTR so realistic when motionless, but as soon as he jumped off a ledge, his CGI nature was instantly revealed, due to the unrealistic inertia and gravity models?

No, practically all CGI is motion captured - actors in suits covered in reflective balls act out the actions.

The "unrealistic" nature of the motion and gravity is almost always because the actor is under the influence of real gravity and has real inertia - you cannot tell a 150 lb actor to act like someone who weighs 50lbs because of inertia and gravity effects are different. If you map the motions directly, it'll act heavier and slower. if you try to make ti more nimble and speed it up, well, it looks more fake.

Accurately simulating inertia and gravity is very difficult in hand animation and very tedious, and it still has the potential to look wrong. Motion capture lets you be far more fluid and be done in a much shorter period of time, and in general the action looks less animated and more realistic.

Re:Longtime Softimage Users Are Stunned By The New (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | about 6 months ago | (#46442003)

Almost all CGI is hand animated. Pretty much everything in Avatar even was motion captured but then redone by an animator. Motion capture is great for capturing intent but its data almost always ends up completely unused.

Re:Longtime Softimage Users Are Stunned By The New (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46437129)

I initially read the headline as "Autodest Says It's Killing Software Development, Support", but a moment's reflection revealed that was silly.

Autodesk would never kill development and support on their DRM.

Re:Longtime Softimage Users Are Stunned By The New (3, Informative)

snsh (968808) | about 6 months ago | (#46437771)

Autodesk has done this before. GeneriCAD, Drafix, were just a few competitors which Autodesk acquired and shutdown. Their practices are very anticompetitive.

Re:Longtime Softimage Users Are Stunned By The New (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 6 months ago | (#46443337)

A normal country wouldn't permit such monopolies.

Re:Longtime Softimage Users Are Stunned By The New (2)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | about 6 months ago | (#46441973)

This is about half correct. ICE is not becoming Bifrost. Bifrost is the spiritual successor to Naiad, although some of the ICE people are working on it.

Also Bifrost isn't just coming to Maya it's being developed as a standalone API/SDK. So it's not a "Maya feature" any more than Renderman is a Maya feature.

As to profit hungry shareholders... XSI/Softimage has been a money losing expedition since the beginning. They had a really hard time getting people to transition from Softimage 3D to XSI. By the time XSI was released many of the users had already migrated to 3ds Max or Maya. It definitely has the newest core system but like Lightwave's attempt to rewrite its core they discovered that the time it takes is lethal to its marketshare. Microsoft bought it initially to port it to Windows NT in an effort to kill off SGI and prove that Windows could handle professional graphics. As a response Maya also moved to Windows so having succeeded in dumping money into Softimage they sold them off to Avid. Avid also dumped money into them hoping that they could have a total pipeline from edit to delivery in their post software. But after losing dump trucks of money on a failed product they too sold it off to Autodesk. Autodesk possibly bought it as a defensive move to ensure that nobody else would pick it up *cough Adobe* but they honestly probably thought they could turn it around. Well... they didn't it also cost them a crapload of money and now they're killing it.

XSI has been costing its corporate owners millions and millions of dollars for over a decade. I suspect it's never actually turned a profit in its entire history. The fact that Autodesk kept it alive this long is really actually surprising to me. It's been perceived as dead for the last 8 years.

As to the all-CG primates in Planet of the Apes... that was done by Weta and Weta has an inhouse proprietary muscle and sliding simulation system so you can't really add that as a flag as a + for softimage. Nor can you add Jurassic Park which predates XSI.

This is a good day for CG. Autodesk has wasted too many years spreading its resources across too many places and I for one am thrilled they finally stopped wasting their customers' money on a dead end.

Re:Longtime Softimage Users Are Stunned By The New (1)

SuperDre (982372) | about 6 months ago | (#46443859)

Well, also the problem is, if you worked with one package for a long time you don't see (or want to see) the progress in other packages.. All those products have their pro's and con's, but as Autodesk is clearly making it's money on 3DMax and Maya there is a reason why they would dump Softimage, new/modern studio's seem to go a different way, they seem to use 3dmax and Maya more than Softimage.. If Softimage is such a great package (which ofcourse it is in your eye's as you have been working with it for ages), why are other companies not buying it? Appearantly softimage isn't making the money it should be.. It would be something else if Autodesk was just dumping it if it would still make them a lot of money.. Maybe the latest versions of Maya and 3dMax have a lot of features and workflows Softimage has and therefore there really is no actual reason to keep softimage..
It's always crap if your favorite product is scrapped, but in the end you still can keep using softimage if you want to, it still will do what you need it to do, but you won't get any new features..

Just Download Blender (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46436311)

Just download Blender, and go with that. Cheaper, better, done.

File interchange (1)

tepples (727027) | about 6 months ago | (#46436381)

But how well does Blender import project files made with Autodesk products?

Re:File interchange (4, Informative)

mikael (484) | about 6 months ago | (#46436449)

The modern version of Blender imports everything from .obj and .mdl files to autodesk files, as well as export/import COLLADA files.

Simple, geometry-only stuff aside, FBX and Collada (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46438377)

Simple, geometry-only stuff aside, FBX and Collada work to some extent, and you can use these formats for the interchange _in_theory_. Otherwise, Blender's interchange capabilities are as good as your scripting skills and format knowledge.

Re:File interchange (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46436465)

There are 3D file exchange formats like - yes - Autodesk FBX (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FBX) and the open Alembic (http://www.alembic.io/). Basic things like geometry, textures, character animation and particle simulations (e.g. fluid dynamics sims) can be brought into Blender using one of these interchange formats. Some things won't transfer this way, like Mental Ray shaders (Softimage XSI render engine) to Cycles shaders (Blender render engine). But there are a few more or less manual ways to bring 3D assets created in Softimage into Blender. A bigger problem than this is Blender's crappy UI design. Softimage XSI had a fairly functional and also beautiful to look at User Interface. Blender's UI, at present, confuses the crap out of people migrating from apps like Softimage. Hopefully the planned UI design overhaul for Blender will address this problem in the near future.

Re:File interchange (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46437385)

I once tried to coach a friend who had to use Blender for something, and he was getting literally FURIOUS because he couldn't get the camera to rotate or pan. Until I told him it was just middle mouse.

That's the image I get every time I hear someone talk about how Blender's UI is supposedly bad. Just someone flailing their arms around because it's not the same as some app from the stone age that they've always used, then calling it unintuitive.

There are no plans to overhaul Blender's UI to please Softimage users or Maya users or Max users. The project's founder states this clearly on the website. This is only wishful troll thinking. The only plans involve incremental improvements on Blender's own terms.

Re:File interchange (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46438401)

I once tried to coach a friend who had to use Blender for something, and he was getting literally FURIOUS because he couldn't get the camera to rotate or pan. Until I told him it was just middle mouse.

Literally furious? That's most impressive. I mean, it's so obvious that one would use the middle mouse button to rotate a camera. It's displayed in so many places within Blender itself that not knowing it must make one feel incredibly foolish!

That's the image I get every time I hear someone talk about how Blender's UI is supposedly bad. Just someone flailing their arms around because it's not the same as some app from the stone age that they've always used, then calling it unintuitive.

You use such emotive language, carefully structured to make you seem like the injured party, and so much effort is put into making those who disagree with you appear to be unreasonable, and possibly even stupid.

Then there's your "from the stone age" comment, suggesting that Blender is a nice and modern UI, with all the latest achievements in design and that all of the competition is out-of-date.

The best part is how you characterise those who have problems with it as being fools, dullards who are set in their ways, being quite unreasonable when they call Blender unintuitive.

Amusing, but transparent. You are probably one of those dicks who always gets into the PC vs Mac/Star Trek vs Star Wars type of wankfests.

Time to grow up.

Captcha: scorches. Because you done got burned, bitch.

Ad hominem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46438717)

You spent a lot of time attacking the language used and the even the author and not much time dealing with the merit of their argument

Re:Ad hominem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46439215)

Yeah I'm not quite sure how to reply because there's not much to reply to. :)

Two-button trackpad (1)

tepples (727027) | about 6 months ago | (#46440479)

Until I told him it was just middle mouse.

"Great. Now I have to buy and carry an external mouse and an external number pad to use it with my laptop." The last time I checked, if the user chooses to swap the buttons so that left is select like every other drawing program, Blender 2.62.0 would disable middle mouse emulation. Did this change by 2.70.0?

Re:Two-button trackpad (1)

spitzak (4019) | about 6 months ago | (#46448865)

Changing the left button to select does not change what the middle mouse button does. I have used Blender in this arrangement and have no problem.

IMHO the few remaining 3D programs that do not use middle mouse button for rotating the viewport are broken. All 2D software, and all non-professional 3D viewing software, use the middle mouse button for panning/tumble. Blender works correctly here and it is the big Maya/etc that have the user-unfriendly setting.

That does not excuse some other Blender problems with their UI, however.

I was referring to L+R = middle (1)

tepples (727027) | about 6 months ago | (#46449771)

Changing the left button to select does not change what the middle mouse button does.

True. But it does change what left+right mouse button does. If RMB is select, L+R can be set in Blender to act as middle. But if LMB is select, the only way to get middle functionality is to either have a physical middle button on your pointing device or install an operating system whose input processing can emulate a middle button before passing the events to Blender.

Re:I was referring to L+R = middle (1)

spitzak (4019) | about 6 months ago | (#46450201)

Interesting. That does sound like a bug (verses a design decision, it is usually clear which is which in Blender even though for most people the end result is no different). I always use the button on a pen to be the middle mouse button, the inability to do this in some software like Maya I find annoying.

Another bug is that it is impossible to do some actions in the timeline when left button is set to select.

Re:File interchange (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 6 months ago | (#46441035)

Just someone flailing their arms around because it's not the same as some app from the stone age that they've always used, then calling it unintuitive.

I always found Blender UI unintuitive not because of similarities or dissimilarities to anything else but because it appears that the accretion of features led to an interface that lumps things together that don't seem to belong into one place or puts conceptually related things into different places I wouldn't have expected them. One would appreciate at least one consistent logic - *any* logic, but a consistent one. I came to like Houdini recently for exactly this reason. It appears to be everything that Blender is not. It would be nice to have a similar FLOSS project.

Re:File interchange (1)

kayoshiii (1099149) | about 6 months ago | (#46437907)

You have a few options including fbx. Which is probably the same route as you would take migrating between different Autodesk products.

Re:File interchange (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46439773)

Except those exchange formats suck and are definitely no 'rpoject formats'. - a very important fact Blender preachers forget Good luck finding another application that supports .MAX, .mb, etc.

Simple, geometry-only stuff aside, FBX and Collada (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46438369)

Writing import and export scripts for Blender is fairly easy.

Assuming appropriate docs (1)

tepples (727027) | about 6 months ago | (#46440489)

Writing import and export scripts for Blender is fairly easy.

I agree, provided the file format that you're trying to import is documented and provided there are no major impedance matches in how different tools represent things. To what extent does Autodesk publish the details of the formats of its products' project files?

Re:Just Download Blender (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 6 months ago | (#46436389)

Cue maya/3dsmax fan boy or random internal troll encounter.

Re:Just Download Blender (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46437795)

Yes, because anybody who feels that Blender isn't as good as the top-of-the-line packages is clearly a troll.

Re:Just Download Blender (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46438335)

In what ways would you classify Blender as superior to Maya, 3DS Max, and Softimage? What about Lightwave? Houdini?

Is it the rendering engine? Materials? Lighting? Cloth? Particles? Fluid simulation? Scripting? Plugin support? Colour handling? Animation? Rigging? Sculpting?

If it is superior, can you explain why it hasn't been used by a large film company (say, Pixar, Dreamworks, or LucasFilm) to produce their final big screen film? Or why it hasn't displaced Lightwave in major television productions (such as Stargate Universe, as one example)?

One further question is support - in a commercial environment, issues often need to be resolved in a timely manner, and dedicating a staff member fully to programming (or at least knowing the code) is often impractical and expensive, particularly as a code base grows. From where would one purchase commercial grade support for Blender, allowing for timely bug resolution? How about documentation? My last experience wil Blender documentation was that I could never find anything for the version I was working with, it was all several versions out of date, incomplete - often with a note inviting me to finish the documentation if I was unhappy with that (an interesting proposition, asking someone needing documentation for a task to write documentation for said task that they were unable to perform), or for an item that didn't work as advertised. Who would a commercial entity go to over that kind of thing?

It's probably worth noting here that "Go to a forum and post the question" doesn't normally keep one employed when it's slung at a guy who earns $100k/year to tell you what to do, particularly when the possibility of an answer is a bit remote.

RIP XSI (2)

edxwelch (600979) | about 6 months ago | (#46436335)

I remember XSI had a reputation as being the easiest to use 3D modeling package, much easier than either Maya or Max and they sold it at a far cheaper price. So, Autodesk bought it and increased the price to $5000, to prevent it competing with it's overpriced Max and Maya packages and now they kill it.

Re:RIP XSI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46437809)

In New Zealand, Maya and 3DS Max are priced at more than $11k, as opposed to the US price of around $3500.

Re:RIP XSI (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | about 6 months ago | (#46442079)

Softimage XSI used to be sold in multiple price brackets from a $500 cheapo version to a $7,000 'advanced' version. All that Autodesk did was kill the top of the line and the introductory version and released a single all inclusive version (The $7,000 version) for $3,500. This is exactly what they did with Maya too. Maya used to come in a $1,000, $4,000 and I think $8,000 version but then they consolidated down to their target price of $3,500.

If anything they offered a price drop. If you're a student you can also get a copy of any of the packages free of charge these days. So the $500 crappy version is $500 cheaper and 10x better than it used to be.

Obligatory automobile parallel (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 6 months ago | (#46436383)

We had to quit including actual warranties with our new models.

This is due to an event on our immediate horizon that we could see coming with both eyes tied behind our backs.

Enjoy your new Delorean.

Not Gone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46436427)

Uh, they're licensing it perpetually, so it's not all dead - just the support. Buy some copies while you can, they'll last.

People are weeping from poor decisions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46436435)

This is exactly the reason people should be moving away from Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, and similar product offerings. It doesn't matter if it's a bit better sometimes or you've built up skill in these product line ups. In one fell swoop these companies can come in an destroy your learned assets, value, and livelihood.

My company uses GIMP exclusively (as an example, amongst other tools) and competes with the likes of these behemoths. We're one of the few companies in our industry that is actually growing and we're doing so by eating at the bread and butter of our competitors. We're a highly successful company that's been in business 6-7 years now. We're growing rapidly (financially, internationally, and the like, but not too fast either mind you, fast enough not to f' it up) and using 100% free software tools and systems as a matter of policy. You can do it. You just have to choose to do it. Implement policies that require users (wherever feasible) to switch. Doing it on your time scale is much more cost effective than doing it on someone elses and in many instances the tools really aren't so different that users need training. Not more so than switching from say Microsoft Office 2003 to Microsoft Office 2007 (ie significantly less really, 2007 was the version Microsoft went from using a traditional user interface in office to using a 'ribbon').

Re:People are weeping from poor decisions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46437319)

My company uses GIMP exclusively (as an example, amongst other tools) and competes with the likes of these behemoths.

Mind naming the company you're using as an example here? In addition to providing some verifiability to your claims, it would be nice to have something to point to and say, "See, this can be done, they're doing it" if it turns out to be true. Plus, if legitimate, I'm curious what sort of work the company does.

Also, what other free software tools get used? Krita, Inkscape, etc.?

Re:People are weeping from poor decisions (1)

Merk42 (1906718) | about 6 months ago | (#46444993)

Because FOSS projects never get abandoned, or go through major compatibility and/or UI changes...

Bound to happen eventually. (2)

John Pfeiffer (454131) | about 6 months ago | (#46436471)

Personally, I'm still a Newtek Lightwave 3D devotee due to its ease of use and intuitiveness compared to other packages, but I use a lot of Autodesk's more industrial design oriented software like Inventor...

It was really only a matter of time before something like this happened, though. I mean how long did people think Autodesk was going to try and maintain three competing 3D modelling and animation packages under the same roof when only one of them fits into their overall software suite ecosystem?

autodesk has no system,. the amount of over lappin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46438265)

the sad thing softimage was rewritten designed and built to be better then maya and it does that job very well, I've used both for 10 years ( & Lightwave, modo & Max ) and softimage is a much cleaner UI and logic, More powerful in relation to data in the interface and working ,. every detail was designed to be a improvement or better then how maya does it ,. most newer studio's who could change pipelines DID move to Softimage BUT it's easier to make a profit by forcing users into Maya ,over the last 5 years autodesk has been giving less and less in there updates for all 3D products and asking more and more each year add to that subscription only coming in next year and you have a big company doing what ever the F they want and the industries has to take it due the there complete control.

This is how Capitalism works.

Not surprising but (1)

nehumanuscrede (624750) | about 6 months ago | (#46436485)

XSI users have seen this coming for a long time now. I myself am a longtime XSI user and while the platform is damned powerful, it is silly to spread your development teams across three applications all trying to do the same thing. If they could sim

Lets try this again. . . (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46436593)

on a real keyboard instead of a damn smartphone :|

XSI users have seen this coming for a long time now. I myself am a longtime XSI user and while the platform is damned powerful, it is silly to spread your development teams across three applications all trying to do the same thing. If they could simply combine the best features of all three packages into one, they could devote more time to development of said package instead and have a truly amazing piece of work to be proud of.

There are things that package A does better than B or C and vice versa even though you never mentioned such things on the various sites dedicated to package A,B or C. Example, never mention Max or Maya over on XSIBASE. Like the sites dedicated to the other packages, they tended to have elitist issues when it came to their software of choice. Their software was the best, and anyone not using it was an amateur. Dare point out how the other package might do something a bit better and they would just lose their f*&king mind.

Personally, I found Softimage to be tougher to learn than the other two. It may be because I had years of experience behind XSI when I started playing with Max / Maya, or they may just be more intuitive. I can't say. I know the user base was smaller and, as such, official training material was a bit harder to come by. I have volumes of it here now, collected over the years.

I don't really care for how Autodesk holds back some features of it's software for those who have ongoing subscriptions ( Iray comes to mind ) but unfortunately the market for this kind of software is not very big. So you have the two big ones, ( Maya and Max ) and a handful of others which many folks have never even heard of. ( Houdini, Modo, Cinema 4D, Electric Image ( hah remember those guys ? ) Lightwave and so on. )

It's sad to see such a powerful package go away, but hopefully something good will come out of it. Hell, I'm sure most users of said programs would agree with me but if they would quit coming up with new whiz-bang enhancements and just get rid of all the damn bugs, we would be thrilled. There is nothing quite like the dread you experience when you have been working on a model for hours and you tell Max / Maya to do something to it and the application goes into the " is not responding " white screen of terror mode. Because that's the exact moment you realize the last save you did was about an hour or so ago and there is a very good chance you're watching the last moments of your current version of your project vanish forever.

Maya is king in game industry (3, Informative)

Dutch Gun (899105) | about 6 months ago | (#46436677)

As far as I've seen, most developers in the game industry use Maya. A few that I've seen used Max years ago, but that seems to have been in rapid decline as well. Honestly, it makes sense to focus development efforts on your top products.

Re: Maya is king in game industry (1)

Rational (1990) | about 6 months ago | (#46437267)

Having used both, I can't wait for Max to die in a fire...

Re: Maya is king in game industry (1)

Dutch Gun (899105) | about 6 months ago | (#46437507)

Having used both, I can't wait for Max to die in a fire...

I can't comment about usability myself, being a programmer, but I've heard similar sentiments from a lot of my artist friends.

Re: Maya is king in game industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46439111)

I liked max but after version 9 the application and stability went down the hole in the middle.

Anyone still using SI? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 6 months ago | (#46436757)

Not a flame, just figured most people would have migrated to something else by now.

Re:Anyone still using SI? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46437819)

Maybe that's why they're killing it...

How Softimage blew it (4, Informative)

Animats (122034) | about 6 months ago | (#46436863)

Microsoft bought SoftImage, as a part of the effort to displace high-end Unix workstations with PC's running NT. It was all over, but the shouting. Alias transformed Wavefront into Maya in roughly this timeframe, while MS starved out "dot release" life support on SoftImage...

I wrote Falling Bodies, the ragdoll physics plug-in for Softimage, back in 1996-1997, so I got to see this happen. Back then, Softimage was #1 in Hollywood. Microsoft bought them, and when I went up to Redmond, the Microsoft guys were talking about making Softimage mass-market software. But that never happened. It was too hard to use, and required more graphics hardware than most users had back then. (I had a $2000 Dynamic Graphics card in an NT workstation back then. Every low-end GPU today has far more power.)

So Microsoft sold Softimage to Avid. Avid made overpriced film and video editing systems, sold with semi-customer hardware and built into cool-looking furniture. Softimage had a good video editor in addition to the 3D line, and that's what Avid really wanted. They had no clue what to do with the 3D product. They did convert from Softimage to "Softimage XSI", which broke all existing plug-ins and didn't have a plug-in API that worked. That's when I dropped Softimage.

As video editing went mainstream and Avid's sales of overpriced furniture declined, Avid sold off the 3D product to Autodesk. Autodesk had sort of become the default acquirer of 3D animation products. Most of them came from small companies with tiny product lines. Maya came from the merger of Alias and Wavefront and the mess at SGI. Autodesk picked up Lightwave and some other stuff, and of course they already had lots of 3D engineering tools.

This worked out well at Autodesk. The architectural design programs were integrated with the good renderers from the animation world, and images of what new buildings were going to look like got really good. (Adding a radioisity renderer with very realistic lighting models allowed architects to get all the right light fixtures in the right places.) Autodesk's real business is tools for making real physical stuff (their internal slogan is "If God didn't design it, one of our customers did"), but there's a lot of crossover between 3D design of real-world stuff and 3D design of animated stuff.

Softimage has pretty much been a has-been product for years now. After 20 years, it's probably time to phase it out.

Re:How Softimage blew it (1)

ldephil (868060) | about 6 months ago | (#46437089)

Say what? Autodesk have never had anything to do with LightWave. It's still owned by NewTek.

Re:How Softimage blew it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46437569)

he wrote lightwave, but he meant lightscape

Re:How Softimage blew it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46437233)

This exactly. My friends (and my ex) who are all architects do their stuff in one of the Autocad flavors in 3d. Then they give me the models, I put materials and lights in MAX, render a bit from different viewports, if they file it is odd, they amend the 3d models, floor plans, etc, until the investors are happy with the building that is not going to exist in the next 2 years and off we go - project completed.

My parents work exclusively in Inventor and Autocad Mechanical. Then I can help them render stuff if more "photorealistic" image than the one in auto cad is required. And guess how much money Autodesk makes on this, quite a lot more than from your 3d animation studio.

Re:How Softimage blew it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46437455)

You should check out BGE, with Blender you could actually run around inside the buildings FPS style. It's really trivial to "code" an FPS "character". I say "code" because for the most part it's just connecting nodes.

Re:How Softimage blew it (1)

Assmasher (456699) | about 6 months ago | (#46439719)

Microsoft bought them, and when I went up to Redmond, the Microsoft guys were talking about making Softimage mass-market software. But that never happened.

Maybe you were talking to the wrong "Microsoft guys" because I was working at SoftImage during this period and nobody at Microsoft espoused anything resembling what you claim above.

SoftImage's Digital Studio was embracing OLE2 (then COM, then DCOM) because it was going to be a non linear video/audio editor that could be deeply extended through a plugin architecture - Microsoft wanted to build on that work and get SoftImage 3D onto Win32 (DS' decision to use COM/DCOM is, of course, more complicated than this, but it would be a lengthy discussion) and Irix, but with the same extensibility features and a close integration with Digital Studio to create an 'uber' production pipeline.

Nobody saw a "mass market" opportunity for SoftImage.

So Microsoft sold Softimage to Avid. Avid made overpriced film and video editing systems, sold with semi-customer hardware and built into cool-looking furniture. Softimage had a good video editor in addition to the 3D line, and that's what Avid really wanted.

Yes, this, 100x this. Avid had been resting on its questionable laurels and DigitalStudio scared the living sh** out of them. They paid Micro$oft something along the lines of 10x what Micro$oft paid for SoftImage for the company - just when XSi was in Beta (it was called Sumatra back then.)

They did convert from Softimage to "Softimage XSI", which broke all existing plug-ins and didn't have a plug-in API that worked. That's when I dropped Softimage.

Actually, XSi had been in development for years (this was the project I worked on, as well as DigitalStudio's framework late in the game, and believe it or not a short lived attempt to run XSi on Direct3D - that was painful) at this point. It was in beta when Avid panic bought SoftImage from Micro$oft.

I'm not sure what problems you had with the plugin system, as I personally wrote plugins for it without any special difficulties.

The best thing you wrote was

They had no clue what to do with the 3D product.

This was so very true it boggles the mind. You would think that a company that was interested in making money (presumably) would at least make some effort to profit from having the industry leading special effects/vfx modeling package, but no - companies can be - and often are - remarkably stupid.

Of course, given how Avid had gotten themselves in the position of having to buy DS to begin with, the SoftImage purchase can really only be seen to be a rather large and expensive band-aid.

Re:How Softimage blew it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46440383)

Your words mean nothing Assmasher. Especially not with a name like that! You should be ashamed of yourself!

Not Lightwave (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46440815)

"Autodesk picked up Lightwave and some other stuff, and of course they already had lots of 3D engineering tools. "

No, Autodesk didn't pick up Lightwave.
Lightwave 3D is still going strong, independent, and rgowing in features and data interchange between apps. It's the unsung hero of a lot of Hollywood work and rarely gets credit for it.
http://www.Lightwave3d.com

Dom

This is how nasty companies "compete" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46437653)

When you have a pile of cash and market dominance and you have a choice of [a] innovating to keep ahead, and/or [b] lowering prices to keep/gain market share, or [c] buying your competitor to gain his IP and then kill his competing product, the nasy business will choose "c". Here's how it workes:

1. buy the competitor (his execs will be happy and "golden-parachute" out, some into retirement, others into non-competing businesses. his shareholders will be happy too)

2. cobble-together a quick new release if it's a software product. The team you bought will be lulled into thinking they have a future in your firm (and you get to evaluate them and decide which of them *might* get to stay). The REAL point is to get the existing customer base to pony-up for a new release (providing a burst of cash to help offset some of the acquisition costs) and think that the product is worth sticking with (in case you want to milk them again before shifting them to your old product)

3. have your team take apart the formerly-competing product, learning anything you can from it and getting ideas for how to improve your older products

4. gain PR benefits by advertizing that your newly-enhanced product line is better-than-ever.

5. add some of the best features of the acquired product to yours, and release a new verion of yours (getting your existing customer base to pony-up for the new version) and also begin offering the customers of your former competitor a chance to pay to move to your product (and make the not-so-subtle point that if they fail to "upgrade" to your product from the one they previously chose over yours they might not be able to in the future or they might have to pay a premium to do it later).

6. kill the product you bought; you've gained the knowledge from it, and those of its developers who met your standards, and all it's "best customers (the ones who mindlessly buy every announced upgrade) and its market share, all that's left are the parts you do not want anyway (the code you did not find useful, the devs that you decided you did not want, and the "cheapest" customers) so you get rid of all that with one action.

/

If you don't like Apple or Microsoft... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46439551)

If you don't like Apple or Microsoft, because of their underhanded lock-in strategies, then you should really really hate Autodesk. They are the most corrupt software company I have ever had to deal with. If you value your sanity, never ever consider using their software as the foundation of anything important that you do. They will put you on an endless cycle of needless upgrades and they will do their damn best to eliminate the competition. Go with the competition. The sooner we can wipe this awful company off the map, the better.

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