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Autodesk Acquires Alias 325

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the as-the-corporations-turn dept.
eggegg is one of many readers to write to tell us that "Autodesk, of AutoCAD and 3dsmax fame, is reporting that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Alias, makers of Maya and MotionBuilder. Will Autodesk use the inherited expertise and codebase to finally develop their product line for the platforms most of their customer base would prefer, or does this mean the end of development of Alias products on OSX and Linux?"
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Autodesk Acquires Alias

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  • End of the Line (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @12:10AM (#13719528)
    Autodesk will kill other platforms and there'll be crazy anti-piracy attached to all the aquired products.
    • Re:End of the Line (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BrynM (217883) * on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @12:21AM (#13719580) Homepage Journal
      ...there'll be crazy anti-piracy attached to all the aquired products.
      As a registered Maya user, I can tell you that there already is. Usually it's FlexLM [macrovision.com], which gets bound to your hardware (or can run on a license server) or a bonafide hardware dongle. No changes expected there. Alias is just as careful (paranoid) as Audtodesk.
      • Re:End of the Line (Score:5, Informative)

        by HMC CS Major (540987) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @12:38AM (#13719648) Homepage
        When you're dealing with niche tools (like 3D and CAD), and you rely on licenses from very expensive software, the licensing stuff is expected.

        Mayas is slightly less intrusive than 3DSM, but the real winner (in my eyes) is Cinema 4D, who's network rendering has the most painless licensing terms.
        • but the real winner (in my eyes) is Cinema 4D,
          I went from C4D to Maya and I would have to totally agree with you there. Maxon has awesome (and inexpensive compared to Maya - geez!) support too.
      • Alias is just as careful (paranoid) as Audtodesk.

        And it helps it none - Maya 7 Unlimited was pirated as soon as it came out. I wonder when investors will catch on and start considering copy prevention schemes as the waste of money they are ? I know I would, if I owned shares in a software company...

    • Right, because nobody pirates AutoCAD and 3ds max?
      • Re:End of the Line (Score:2, Informative)

        by Wyatt Earp (1029)
        Autodesk is known in the CAD world as being very proactive about coming after users who are using the Student Version for commercial work and pirated copies.

        At least it was in the 90s when I worked with Autodesk tools.
        • Re:End of the Line (Score:3, Insightful)

          by sgant (178166)
          Question though...how do they do this? I mean, let's say someone has a student version of 3DS or even a pirated copy. They use that software to make an animation or model or whatever for a client or perhaps even a film. How is ANYONE to know what software was uses when and where?

          I'm not saying it's right or wrong or anything...just wondering how any company would know that this movie or this effect or this animation was used with a pirated copy of their software? It would seem to me to be either very very h
  • by MrCranky (187240) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @12:12AM (#13719534) Homepage
    to get built for Linux. The whole product embeds every microsoft technology possible, including basing core functionality on IE6. The most likely outcome will be that Alias products will become Windows-only. I give Linux and MacOS Alias products one more rev before it goes strictly Windows.
    • You're right about the AutoCAD situation, but seeing as how Maya relies on very little from MS, and does pretty much everything in a cross platform way (The UI is built with Maya's own MEL script, the documentation uses Java, the built-in browser uses Mozilla, etc.) it would probably be more work for Autodesk to convert it all to MS-based technologies than to continue to support other platforms.

      Whether they decide to cancel them for other reasons remains to be seen. Keep in mind that Alias just recently dis
    • by demachina (71715) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @01:24AM (#13719796)
      The most likely outcome is Alias products get put on life support and in a year or two Autodesk announces there next generation package, and tries to force all of Alias customers over to it and then slowly kills off the old Alias product line. Thats what happened when Wavefront bought TDI, and then basically what happened to Wavefront when it was on the bottom end of the SGI/Alias/Wavefront merger.

      There is way to much overlap between Maya and Max for them to carry both product lines forward forever and I doubt they will ditch Max in favor of Maya.

      Mergers like this are usually to get rid of a competitor and take their customers. It is a market in need of consolidation because there are to many packages selling to relatively few users for not enough money. The execs of the company being bought do it because they get rich cashing out and could care less about either the employees or customers both of whom usually get screwed.

      It will be interesting what happens to Maya's use at high end studios. The high end business commands a lot of prestige and companies want bragging rights that they are used at them, so every 13 year old aspiring animator will want to learn Maya or Softimage. In reality its a terrible business, because studios buy a relatively small number of seats infrequently, they develop a lot of their own software and they constantly play the software companies off against each other. If Autodesk is thinking business they will let the high end business fade away, if they are thinking prestige they will try to keep it and it will probably cost them a lot of money.
      • "There is way to much overlap between Maya and Max for them to carry both product lines forward forever and I doubt they will ditch Max in favor of Maya."

        This isn't strictly true. The reason why multiple 3D packages exist in the market today isn't that each one has special abilities, but rather because each one has a different focus in mind. Lightwave, for example, has far less tools to do the high end stuff that Maya does, but its implicity offers a much shorter development time for a shot. (i.e. TV FX
  • by USSJoin (896766) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @12:12AM (#13719536) Homepage
    Background on Alias's history can be obtained here [wikipedia.org], and background on Autodesk, here [wikipedia.org].

    Hope for the future of Maya on Linux, can be found at /dev/null.
  • Incredibly cheap (Score:5, Interesting)

    by timeToy (643583) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @12:13AM (#13719538)
    Alias sold for $182m in cash ! Wow that's cheap, given that Maya is THE software used to create all theses 3d animated motion picture that each gross several multiple of that.
    Now if Autodesk is discontinue the Maya line, that is going to be a huge lost to the industry, I rather like Autodesk to use their newly acquire Premium product (Maya) to make a coherent product line, 3DStudio Max in the cheap low end, windows only and Maya for the expensive high end, with pricey Linux-clustering support.
    • Re:Incredibly cheap (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @12:28AM (#13719604) Homepage Journal
      And sold for $57M in 2004. And yes, Autodesk could royally screw up the film industry, but then the film industry has been cruising for a bruising. You think we have problems with nVidia. The film folks have to be really nice to nVidia for fear that the company will just walk away from that market.

      Open Source might end up being the studios salvation. It'll be an interesting few years.

      Bruce

      • Re:Incredibly cheap (Score:5, Interesting)

        by BrynM (217883) * on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @12:41AM (#13719654) Homepage Journal
        And sold for $57M in 2004.
        The thing is, that was to an investment firm that would be hands off. We can only hope for the same from Autodesk, but they were the competition in many markets (especially game design - boy did they just become the 800lb Gorilla there too). My hope is much like the grandparent, that Max/GMax becomes a real-time platform and Maya becomes the film production platform. Those roles are already quite estabilished (within film and gaming at least) and a smart company would play those strengths.
      • And sold for $57M in 2004. And yes, Autodesk could royally screw up the film industry, but then the film industry has been cruising for a bruising. You think we have problems with nVidia. The film folks have to be really nice to nVidia for fear that the company will just walk away from that market.

        This could mean good things for RenderMan and Pixar, though.

        • Pixar has bigger fish to fry than the market for Renderman. They probably made more from showings of The Incredibles in San Francisco than they have ever made from Renderman.

          However, Pixar has not had the easiest time with studio tools. When I left there, the studio tools had been in continuous development for 20 years, no kidding. It showed. They actually simulated the E&S picture system calligraphic API on top of OpenGL. I hope they've been able to get out from under that. At times, they considered gi

      • by iota (527) *
        You may be right. As a game programmer I, along with the most of the artists I've worked with, have been strictly Alias for over ten years now - since we moved to 3D games. Alias on the SGI then Maya on the PC. But when I heard this announcement today, I decided I was going to check out Blender soon. I want to make sure that years of investment into the next set of tools can't be so easily undone. It's going to be a very hard move, but no one believes that Autodesk isn't going to screw this up.
    • Yeah, by pricing Maya at $5000+ makes their market pretty small... I wonder how many hobbyists would buy it if they had a reasonaby featured version that was affordable? Yeah, they have a "personal" edition but the very obvious watermarks make it pretty annoying to use.

      Here's a hint to software companies like Autocad and Maya: Would you rather have a guy like me spend $200 or $300 just so I can play with a tool the pro's use, or would you rather do without that revenue while I make due with open source?

      • [QUOTE]Click here for state of the art open source 3d modelling/rendering in java! Art of Illusion [artofillusion.org][/QUOTE]

        No disrespect, but AOI is pretty poor at both modeling and rendering. Blender or Wings3D are the best open source modeling tools. There are a number of open source rendering tools of good quality depending on what you want to do - YafRay, Aqsis, Blenders internal renderer, PovRAY and others I'm sure.

        of course you could have meant to emphasize 'in java'.

        LetterRip
    • Maya isn't "THE software used to create all theses 3d animated motion picture". Its one of many applications used by the movies studios, they use Softimage and Houdini and probably Max and a host of other commercial applications. More importantly the big studios develop a LOT of their own software in house. Studios tend to use whatever does a particular job best for them, and for which they can find operators who are skilled and who comfortable with a particular app. Fact is every app is stong in one ar
      • You always hear "studios develop their own software" quite a bit...but this is mainly smoke and mirrors. A large part is off-the-shelf software that is then customized. Rarely do they use built from scratch software on major projects for the simple reason they have to get the product out and relying on unproven software can slow production.

        Yes, they use a slew of software and many times the custom software written is mainly for the pipeline itself or interaction between software. But places like ILM and Wet
    • Actually, I suspect that Autodesk will be foolish and will announce that in 2 years time, they will kill the Linux Maya. At that point, the Movie industry will go bonkers and build a new OSS competing product. In fact, I would not be surprised if they are not heading that way now.
  • by BrynM (217883) * on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @12:16AM (#13719559) Homepage Journal
    Maya Linux has been a long time coming. Alias has proof that not only do regular customers want Linux, high-end studios demand [millimeter.com] it. OSX is in an even better position. The architeture of Maya (a scripting language called MEL [amazon.com] on top of a "kernel" of sorts) makes it quite portable I would think.
    • The architeture of Maya (a scripting language called MEL on top of a "kernel" of sorts) makes it quite portable I would think.

      I would hardly call MEL an architecture. In fact, I would hardly call MEL a programming language either.

      However, Alias/Maya used to run on Irix, an SGI Unix variant (maybe still does). So, I wouldn't be surprised if the codebase was easily portable to other -ix platforms.
      • I would hardly call MEL an architecture. In fact, I would hardly call MEL a programming language either.

        It may not be an OS, but it certainly is an API [google.com] that can control every part of Maya from the GUI to dynamic animations to the tooltip bubbles. By the way, I called it a "scripting language".

        However, Alias/Maya used to run on Irix, an SGI Unix variant (maybe still does).

        Oddly, 6.5 was the last [alias.com] Irix version (Maya is now on 7.0). Hmmm..... Maybe that's because they were no longer owned by SGI as of Jul

    • This is not so much a question of customer demand and technical feasability but of market strategy. It's not so rare that perfectly fine and viable products that even sell well get cancelled because they don't fit into the portfolio of the purchaser or because of other strategical considerations (see Apple's purchase of their audio software a couple of years back (forgot the name of the product) where they cancelled the existing and apparently well selling Windows version immediately). Welcome to the market
  • I know they've produced a few questionable products in the past, but is that really enough to require an alias?

    And what is it for that matter?

    ManualChair (R)?
    BikeSofa (R)?
    StickOttoman (R)?
    AutoCrap (R)?

    A bit more information, please....

    -Chris
  • What about Rhino ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by UnknownSoldier (67820) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @12:26AM (#13719593)
    Interestingly that Rhino 3D is picking up users.

    Does anyone know how the big 3 modellers compare? (I know a lot of game dev studios use Max and Maya.) Also, what about Blender?

    TIA.
    • Rhino is kind of small in comparison. The third Big Modeler is SoftImage|XSI, which has incidentally been gaining a lot of momentum in the game industry lately (most notably, Half Life 2/Source).

      As for Blender, it just doesn't reside in the same league. Its capabilities are for the most part adequate, but the...shall we say, controversial interface is a permanent barrier to its real adoption.
      • And I guess SoftImage survived an interlude of being owned by Microsoft.

        Bruce

        • I got the impression SoftImage was purchased by Microsoft solely to force them to port their products to NT, when Microsoft was moving low-level graphics support into NT4's kernel specifically to try and make it a viable challenger to Silicon Graphics. Which seemed to work; I recall the SIGGRAPH I went to around that time being filled to the brim with Intergraph Z workstations in places SGI workstations would have been just a couple years before that.
    • by robson (60067)
      Interestingly that Rhino 3D is picking up users.

      Does anyone know how the big 3 modellers compare? (I know a lot of game dev studios use Max and Maya.) Also, what about Blender?

      While Maya is great for modeling, it's the animation and dynamics tools that really make it stand out. I don't know what apps are best positioned to take Maya's place in these areas. How do Blender's [blender.org] animation tools stand up to Maya's? Anyone tried Project:Messiah [projectmessiah.com]? Maybe this will be just the thing to push Softimage [softimage.com] back into th
    • [QUOTE]Does anyone know how the big 3 modellers compare? (I know a lot of game dev studios use Max and Maya.) Also, what about Blender?[/QUOTE]

      Blender has been pretty much only been freelancers and hobbyists thus far. It currently lacks some neccessities for game modeling that are pretty important for widespread game industry adoption - smoothing groups, baking of lighting, mulitple and overlapping UV maps, and tangent space normal maps.

      Blenders animating tools on the current release cycle have just caught
    • by IoN_PuLse (788965) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @01:47AM (#13719867) Homepage
      Whenever anyone mentions Blender here, it usually ends up in trolling about it's "crappy interface" and other fun opinions. IMHO, Blender's interface is extremely efficient, and I've worked with 3dsmax and Maya in the past...I could always get stuff done in Blender faster than the other two products. Blender by no means has a comparable featureset to 3dsmax and Maya, yet it is great at a LOT of stuff. Take a look at the gallery at Blender3d.com for some of the great work that's been done with it.

      Some really great features that Blender has over the competition:

      • Open-source (obvious, but a plus)
      • Embedded python scripting (can import other modules, cross-platform)
      • Cross-platform to a ridiculous extent
      • Platform consistent (meaning it looks the same whatever you run it on), OpenGL-accelerated user-interface
      • Less than 10 megs for any platform!!
      • Loads in a few seconds, compare that to the behemoths Maya and 3dsmax are
      • No funky copyprotection servers/dongles to worry about
      • Runs well on older hardware

      Heck there is even a ton of free documentation, ranging from a wikibook [wikibooks.org] to other books and guides [blender3d.com].

      It was used for previz stuff on Spider-man 2, in case anyone asks if it has been used in the industry.
  • Autodesk acquires Alias?

    Imagine for a moment, what would happen if Adobe decided to take over Macromedia. It's a silly, far-fetched idea.

    Wha? Oh, nevermind. [adobe.com]
  • The product will be allowed to languish for years, squeezing [sorensonmedia.com] every last drop of usefulness out of a once mighty product, compressor(ing) [apple.com] a once large user base on2 [on2.com] other software solutions.

    dang if I can figure out how to work Divx [divx.com] into that sentence... ;-)
  • clustering (Score:3, Insightful)

    by timmarhy (659436) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @12:30AM (#13719617)
    given there is no such thing as windows clustering, and maya uses large rendering farms, i doubt they will kill it off. huge movie studio's will move to something else if they do and that's a big loss to them.
  • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @12:31AM (#13719619) Journal
    when they came up with Final Cut Pro. The video monsters collected their strengths and are now slowly pulling the wings off of Apple. First Adobe cut Premiere off of Apple, and now their video suite is Windows only. Next thing, Autodesk buys Alias. Bye bye Maya. More will soon follow. The future of Apple? SGI. It doesn't have to be this way, but that's the way it's going. Bummer, 'cuz I love Apple machines. RS
    • by jcr (53032) <jcr@NOsPAM.mac.com> on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @12:44AM (#13719662) Journal
      Umm.. The problem with your scenario is that you're ignoring how FCP is eating Premiere and Avid's lunch. Apple's selling enormous FCP/Xsan/Shake/Xserve/SXserve raid packages every day. As for Maya, Autodesk is in business to make money, not to throw away huge revenue streams just to spite Steve Jobs. Maya will stay on the Mac, unless Apple ships an app that tops it.

      -jcr
      • You are correct: FCP ate Premiere's Lunch, and rightly so - Premiere 4 (which is where it was at the time of FCP 1) was a roiling turd. Avid was not inferior technology: just wildly overpriced.

        The problem is this, and I've seen it happening on other fronts behind the scenes: It's very clear that Apple has the better OS. However, they keep insisting on eating their developers. IIRC, there was a search engine that was better than Sherlock, and Apple went and co-opted it, for example. There is a kind of ling

    • "First Adobe cut Premiere off of Apple, and now their video suite is Windows only."

      This is a good thing. The less available it is the better. Premiere mangles audio (re-samples _without_ sample rate conversion) when you import different sample rates. Worse, it doesnt tell you it's doing it. I've even seen programs on BBC TV with audio grated in this way. It most commonly happens when a 44.1KHz CD is imported as backing music to a 48KHz project.

      Most video engineers I know don't seem to be able to hear this h
    • Mod parent troll plz.

      [ disclaimer, I do professional video work for moneyhats. It pays the bills, I've been doing it since the last century, I've always done it on a mac so I know what I am FRIGGING TALKING ABOUT. ]

      PREMIERE WAS A GIANT FESTERING PIECE OF SHIT.

      Apple didn't come up with FCP, they bought the damned thing from Macromedia. THAT is why Adobe is pissed at them... and Adobe didn't drop Premiere until FCP Elements came out - a stripped down gutted FCP that functions in Premiere's market space. Ra
      • There is also a power struggle inside of Avid between the classic Media Composer developers and the Softimage DS guys. That is also helping FCP. (You want fixes to the buggy 3D DVE in DS? Well, you're going to have to wait until we figure out how to make Symphony work with Nitris. Tree-based compositors be damed!)

        Also: The guy that lead the development of Final Cut at Macromedia was someone who developed Premiere. Go figure!

        Go Apple and FCP!!!
    • AfterEffects much? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Thu25245 (801369)
      If video editing on the Mac is dead, and this is why Adobe pulled Premiere...

      Why does Adobe continue to update AfterEffects on the Mac?

      Probably, because AfterEffects is a viable product. Premiere died because it was too lame to compete with FCP. On Windows, the competition is lighter, so it survived there. But FinalCut-using editors still use AE for finishing, because it's a genuinely useful program.

      Same thing with Maya. It's the best 3D package on the Mac. And the Mac accounts for about 25% of Alias' Maya [macworld.com]
  • Come on, please someone tell me this was just a poorly timed April Fools' joke.
  • by falcon5768 (629591) <Falcon5768@@@comcast...net> on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @12:32AM (#13719625) Journal
    Is the manufacturing and design industry as stuck in a rut as the Graphic Design industry is with Quark? I mean seriously, there are so many better products out there that are cheaper, less buggy, and most importantly dont require a bloodsample of your entire production staff and 1 million dollars in cash to run, why do people STILL use this POS?

    Honestly I thought at this point Auto would have already burried its self so deep into adding more junk onto the same original program that they would just fade away into nothing while VectorWorks and other programs took center stage, I certainly didnt see them buying out THE best comercial 3D program out there let alone buying it out for really what amounts to chump change and is certainly 1/8th what I expected.

    • AutoCAD::Photoshop::Quark::Office::AVID etc === $app for the following.

      People keep buying upgrades in order to fill seats for new employees or to interoperate with some dipstick who bought the new version. People keep using $app because it's what they know, it's what they're comfortable with, and it's what they can get work done in. Hell, I still use photoshop 5.5 because I find Photoshop CS to be a slow, bloated, damned-near useless pile of shit... but I have to keep it or 7 around for professional reaso
  • by mrchaotica (681592) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @12:35AM (#13719637)
    ...it would be a good opportunity for Blender to step in and fill the gap. I wonder if it's up to it?
    • [QUOTE]..it would be a good opportunity for Blender to step in and fill the gap. I wonder if it's up to it? [/QUOTE]

      Today it definitely isn't. In a year or so of time, it might well be.

      LetterRip
    • Not yet, however, from my point of view, they are close. Actually what they need is extensive manual for Maya users to migrate on Blender. Blender is growing rapidly and get features/methods added in very fast pase. Check out Project Orange (link http://orange.blender.org/ [blender.org]), which will be something like real life showcase of usability of Blender - in same time, big QA and bugfixing session too :)

    • Compared with Maya, blender is a toy. That's the cold hard truth.

      Maya for Linux has a slightly more messed up UI than the windows release though.

      --
      Use your bluetooth phone as a modem for Linux [arpx.net]
    • And in the meantime, maybe the GIMP will replace Photoshop, is that your next line?

      Yeeeeeeeahno.

      Blender has its uses, but Super Mega High End ain't one of them. Ditto GIMP vs. Photoshop. The biggest single advantage of Blender is that it's FOSS and multiplatform - after that.... whoo. Studios shell out for Maya licenses for a reason, scooter.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I have some artist friends in the entertainment industry. Every so often I hear about great Maya is from some, and how great Max is from others. So I know that both have their fans.

    But my question is: How does the open source Blender [blender3d.org] modeling and animation package compare to Maya and Max for creating content for movies, animations and games. What is it missing, what does it not do as well, what would it need to be able to compete? Is Blender even a worthy substitute for Maya or Max?

    I'm new to all of the abo
    • Blender still isn't up to the standards set by the big guys (it's getting there but still needs work), but it doesn't really even matter feature-wise because every school for 3d anim. either teaches MAX or Maya with a small minority still teaching Lightwave. Regardless of Blender's cost or features, there's no one in the industry now with the skills to use it, no comparable training programs for Blender, and most importantly, no massive hype machine to convince people it's worth looking at. Trust me, I have
      • Unfortunately the "standards set by the big guys" aren't that great. My experience, at least coming from the real-time side of the coin, is that MAX, Maya, Multigen each suck in different ways; usually something that is easy on one package is hard on the others, maintaining plugins is far harder than it should be, plus they all seem surprisingly buggy for "professional" software. Maya has what looks on paper as a "pretty" architecture that sounds appealing, but in practice it seems to devolve into a twist
      • Comparing the two is like comparing Quark to Vi.

    • Is Blender even a worthy substitute for Maya or Max?

      No.

      For one, its builtin renderer is complete crap when it comes to anything nearing physical accuracy (such as reflections. Yuck), and Yafray, while it's nice, has nothing on Mental Ray when it comes to speed, image quality, or ease of use. Admittedly, on price, it wins. And the LCSM unwrap in blender is quite nice, and I don't know of an equivalent in maya. But I'm a major n00b.

      Not to mention Hypershade owns me. It makes it so easy to make complicated sha

    • Blender is much more than just 3d modeling. It is a full suite of 3d modeling, sound syncing, animation, physics, great scripting capabilities, game engine, and an extremely fast renderer. It was used in parts of the development for Spiderman 2, so its obviously starting to catch the big guys' attention. Quite a few professionals already use it [blender3d.org]. It really is quite a product, and although its gui paradigm is different than most are used to, it turns out to be extremely effective. Other than that, blender ha
    • by LetterRip (30937) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @02:45AM (#13720057)
      [QUOTE]But my question is: How does the open source Blender [blender3d.org] modeling and animation package compare to Maya and Max for creating content for movies, animations and games. What is it missing, what does it not do as well, what would it need to be able to compete? Is Blender even a worthy substitute for Maya or Max?[/QUOTE]

      Depends on the studio, developer costs, and what type of animation you want to do. For high end photoreal Blender isn't there yet (render isn't 'high end' enough). For simulation based particle effects (fire, smoke, complex physics, crowd simulations, certain other fluid effects) Blender doesn't have those capabilities or are extremely limited (no volumetric shaders and no simulation system for smoke and flame, crowd dynamics could come shortly after the next release though). For most other TV quality animation, game animation, and small scale movie cinematics Blender is very much a possible consideration. Blender lacks some modeling tools but has a very solid core for subdivision surface modeling and has the truely neccessary tools (additional tools could improve speed and workflow). With much less than half a year of developer time, it could probably be brought to Silo equivalency for modeling, and with a full developer year could challenge Modo or ZBrush in modeling. With a half a year of dev time on texturing it could likely become ZBrush or Modo equivalent. Animation wise the next release will put it mostly on par with other character animation tools (but will still have a serious short coming in that it doesn't have motion capture capabilities). For game developers I noted above the limitations Blender has - again 6 months of developer time.

      So in short it isn't a serious contender today for what major animation studios currently do with Maya or 3dsmax, but with a bit of funding could easily be there within a years time.

      LetterRip
  • they will trash it (Score:2, Interesting)

    by trapine (615869)
    Like every other aquisition, Autodesk will do a terrible job of implimenting the better features of the product, and then shelve it until it dies. Meanwhile they will continue on the long standing tradition of Windows only, and worse performance. Autocad is the only program that has a reverse Moore's curve. They've already ruined autocad, lightscape and revit. They've done little to improve 3dStudio. Now that they have Alias they have even less incentive to improve their products and even more to make
  • by doormat (63648) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @01:02AM (#13719732) Homepage Journal
    Before Maya is as of a high quality like several of Autodesk's other recent product releases, like Raster Design 2005 and Map 3D 2006. ::rollseyes::

    I'm so sorry for you Maya folk. I really am.

    And yes, Autodesk is in deep with Microsoft. They got tons of cash 10 or so years ago to kill off their Unix variants of AutoCAD (not like there was a whole lot of demand anyways). But there is just about no way they could get AutoCAD or any other vertical to run on any non MS OS (tight integration, lots of hooks for .NET and VBA). I've seen an AutoCAD install running on Virtual PC on a Mac, but that was painful. I really wouldnt expect future versions of Maya on linux or mac unless the community revolts.
  • Just got the Memo (Score:5, Informative)

    by BrynM (217883) * on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @01:03AM (#13719736) Homepage Journal
    Here's the customer announcement. Funny enough, the Slashdot article is what I saw first. Some geek I am, not checking my mail...October 4, 2005

    From: Alias
    To: bryn
    Date: Wed, 5 Oct 2005 00:49:17 -0400 (EDT)
    Subject: Autodesk Signs Definitive Agreement to Acquire Alias

    Dear Alias Customer,

    Today Autodesk and Alias announced the signing of a definitive agreement for Autodesk to acquire Alias.

    Alias is a leading developer of 3D graphics technology, headquartered in Toronto, Canada. Alias develops and delivers software and services for film and video, interactive games, media and the Web. It also develops software and services for consumer products, industrial design, automotive, architecture and visualization customers.

    With more than six million users, Autodesk is the world's leading software and services company for the manufacturing, infrastructure, building, digital media and wireless data services fields. Autodesk's solutions help customers to create, manage and share their digital assets more effectively. The acquisition of Alias will continue to round out our product lines across industry segments.

    As many of you are aware, in the media and entertainment industry, most leading film studios, game developers and high-end visual effects companies use Alias' Maya®, MotionBuilder® and FBX® software. Most also use Autodesk's complementary Inferno®, Flame®, Lustre® and 3ds Max® products. The most demanding industrial designers in the world use Alias' StudioTools(TM), primarily in the automotive and consumer products segments. Bringing this technology to Autodesk will strengthen the manufacturing business by integrating conceptual design as a front-end to Inventor Series and the PLM solution.

    The acquisition also brings to Autodesk a highly talented group of individuals, a wealth of technologies and a great set of products. By combining the technology and talents of two successful, financially healthy companies, we will be better able to continue delivering solutions that address your ever-changing and increasingly complex needs. And yes, Autodesk plans to continue to support and develop Alias products as well as utilize the strength of the combined organization to provide customers with continued innovation and technology development.

    The transaction is expected to close in the next four to six months. Until that time, Autodesk and Alias will continue operating as independent companies and will remain focused on our current customer needs. We do not anticipate any changes with respect to planned product releases for either company. Please continue using your existing contacts for sales, services and support. We will update you on the progress of this acquisition, both directly and online at http://www.autodesk.com/autodeskandalias [autodesk.com].

    On behalf of Autodesk and Alias, we would like to thank you for your business and reiterate our commitment to ensuring that this event which is exciting for both our companies will prove even more so for you.

    Sincerely,

    Carol Bartz
    Chairman and CEO
    Autodesk, Inc.

    Doug Walker
    President and CEO
    Alias

  • What about IRIX? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by milatchi (694575) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @01:07AM (#13719747)
    "does this mean the end of development of Alias products on OSX and Linux?"

    What about IRIX? Let's not forget about it. It was the first OS that any Alias software ever ran on. If memory serves, Alias was spun-off from Silicon Graphics, Inc.
    • Re:What about IRIX? (Score:3, Informative)

      by tinrobot (314936)
      Actually, Alias was founded in 1983 as an independant company.

      SGI bought both Alias and Wavefront as a response to Microsoft's 1995 purchase of Softimage.

      Alias separated from SGI a few years ago and has been looking for a sugar daddy ever since. There were rumors that Apple was going to buy them, but those were just rumors.
  • Answers.. answers (Score:5, Informative)

    by jamezilla (609812) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @01:14AM (#13719772) Homepage
    From the Acquisition FAQ [autodesk.com] (warning: PDF):
    Q5: Will planned product releases for Alias or Autodesk be affected and will Autodesk continue to support Alias' products?
    A5: We do not anticipate any changes with respect to planned product releases for both companies. And yes, Autodesk plans to continue to develop Alias products and utilize the strength of the combined organization to provide customers with continued innovation and technology development.

    Q18: Will Autodesk sell all of Alias' products?
    A18: After the transaction closes, Autodesk plans to continue to sell all of the products currently offered by both organizations.

    Q23: What platforms do the Autodesk® 3ds Max® and Alias' Maya software support?
    A23: 3ds Max and Maya software products differ greatly in supported platforms. Maya software supports Linux®, Windows® and Macintosh® operating systems, making it the top choice for platform-sensitive segments like high-end film, whereas 3ds Max software is a Windows application that is used most often in world-building for games. We expect customers to benefit from the wide range of platforms upon which the combined company will offer its products.

    From this info, it looks like they consider Maya and 3DS Max to be in separate market segments - which indeed they are. For cryin' out loud, Pixar uses parts of Maya in their workflow. Who would want to kill that? Maya's the crown jewel of Alias. You can't compare this to the Macromedia acquisition. This would be more akin to Macromedia buying out Adobe to get Photoshop.

    • This is also very predictable language designed to calm the fears of the affected customers and get them to sit tight for a while. It is no indicator at all as to what Autodesk will actually do with these product lines in a year or two. Having expensive, overlapping R&D efforts and teams scattered around the globe almost never works out in the long run and eventually there is streamlining(layoffs) and consolidation(end of lifed products) to improve business efficiency.
      • Autodesk already did this with Max - the development was all over the globe, but after the Discreet merger they consolidated in Montreal.

        Same with Alias/Wavefront after the merger 10 years ago. Santa Barbara, Toronto, London, it was all over the map but finally settled in Toronto.

        At least both companies currently do their development in Canada...
  • by tinrobot (314936) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @01:24AM (#13719797)
    But it may be about the death of innovation in the area of 3D animation.

    Autodesk bought Discreet quite a while ago and is actively supporting and developing *nix and OSX versions of the Discreet products. Autodesk's AutoCAD may not be so friendly, but the Media and Entertainment division goes where the money is, and a lot of the creative types are on platforms other than Windows. Judging from history, I suspect that will continue to be the case.

    The thing that frightens me is that the two most popular 3D applications will now be under one roof. This could mark the beginning of Autodesk staging a Microsoft-like dominance of the 3D market, and the marginalization of the remaining players.

    As someone who owns seats of both 3ds Max and Maya, I should be happy, but instead I have a pit in my stomach. I'm not sure if this is a good thing at all for the 3D community.
    • Well, Combustion and Lustre are the only Autodesk products currently available for OSX, and Combustion isn't (or wasn't until very recently) developed on Macs, just recompiled for and tested with Macs. The Autodesk you know from Autocad probably won't be given the reigns for Maya, that will fall to the former Discreeters and the 3dsmax guys, many of whom are now cohabitating in Montreal. You'll hopefully see better integration between Max, Maya, and the effects products, inferno, flame, toxik, and smoke,
    • [QUOTE] But it may be about the death of innovation in the area of 3D animation.[/QUOTE]

      Animanium, Character Animation Toolkit, - and look for Modo, ZBrush and Silo to develop very cool animation tools. Also expect great things from Blender. Most innovation is coming from the University researchers or the fast and nimble software, not out of the huge scale animation tools.

      [QUOTE]The thing that frightens me is that the two most popular 3D applications will now be under one roof. This could mark the beginni
  • Bullshit (Score:2, Interesting)

    by im_thatoneguy (819432)
    Speaking from someone in the industry, you're all over hyped/worried about nothing.

    First of all, the suggestion that Autodesk pro MS is complete bullshit. More than half of Discreet's products only run on Unix.

    Second, speaking as a user of both Max and Maya, the two could see a bright future in collaboration. The two interfaces are just about identical thanks to years of blatantly ripping one another's innovations off. The two have been fighting so long that many of the programmers that developed g
    • I prefer working in Max's interface, but I prefer Maya's power.

      Hopefully:

      Maya will become a little more user friendly. Even after 10 years, it's still a kludge. (I really don't want to have to render particles in a separate pass, for example, and the polygonal modeler must go.) The discreet people have done a really good job with making 3ds max a very easy to use program, and the Mental Ray integration they did far surpasses Alias' anemic implementation. Let them streamline the interface.

      Max will get so
  • Obvously AutoDesk is trying to increase the depth of products and position themselves better in the CG industry, which compliments 3D Studio well. But, for the AutoCAD users out there, this has no benefit. I am a Civil Engineer and have been using autocad since its early days (1987, v 1.18) and I think what they really need is some dedication to avoid bloatware! It will be interesting however to see how products like Maya affect their Civil 3D program as they are starting to push rendering much more than
  • by wbattestilli (218782) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @02:40AM (#13720034)
    The threads on this board are silly. Maya is not going to die on Linux or otherwise. There is too much money to be made. While Max and Maya have some overlap, Max cannot do what Maya does or serve all of Maya's customers. Autodesk doesn't have competition for our AutoStudio product so that is going to stay too. They will keep Alias products around if only because we have a *very* developed services business that is based around Maya and Studio with some *very* large companies.

    It would be reckless of me to speculate further what is exactly going to happen, but Maya in particular is quite beautiful under the hood and has a bunch of life left in it. It is very platform independent. It is flexible enough to turn into almost anything that you need it to be. It's not going anywhere.

    I'm happy about this. The near term impact is that we will have a more complete pipeline to sell in design, film and games. I bet some really nice Maya-Max translation tools pop up as well.
    • I hope you're right because I was planning to switch from Lightwave to Maya before the end of the year and it definately gave me pause. My hope was to start switching to Mac and Linux around that time so it was a double hit since I considered them dropping support a definate possibility. Most of the movement over the years has been towards limiting options rather than expanding them inorder to try to trap customers. Really is a pain to the users given compatibility issues. Everyone wants you using their for
  • by Qbertino (265505) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @05:42AM (#13720535)
    No, this is no big entry for Blender. Yes, Blender is far away from competing with Maya. It's probably even far away from competing with 3DSCrap - allthough not so very far I'd say.
    But there is one thing significant about Blender as an OSS Design Software:

    While comparing Gimp to PS or Sketch to Illustrator is just plain silly, there is actually a point in comparing Blender to commercial 3D Software.
    Let's not forget: Blender was a commercial package itself back then. I even bought a licence for ca. 400$.

    So, yes, over time it is not unlikely that Blender will be a solid alternative to Maya, Softimage, Houdini, Lightwave and the rest. Blender 2.4 is coming (probably at the blender conference next week) with a complete redo of IK. There are less than 10 open ends that need programming/redoing (renderer, joints, proper NLA, more/better modelling to name a few) but even though this is lots of work, it's an overseable amount of work. Each of these open ends can be done by a good programmer with a few months time.
    Blender *is* invading the 3D market. Especially in education. Softimage's 3Democracy campaign is one result of this.

    If the Blender team could be the first to come clear with an XML based 3D format they could even call the shots and establish a new universal 3D standard.

    Bottom line:
    Over time Blender could very well become a big player in the 3D world. Just not tomorrow.
  • by paulzoop (701446) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @06:23AM (#13720635)
    I feel sorry for all the Maya users out there. The Maya forums are full of messages like "I'm switching to XSI/Houdini", "they're going to ruin Maya". While the Max user base is over the moon. In reality, nothing much will change. Maya was starting a slow decline. It's infrastructure is at least two generations older than Houdini, and one older than XSI. It's turned into a collection of modules that really don't fit into each other. Max has been going that way for years. Sure, its great for games - but pretty clunky by todays standards.
  • by lazzaro (29860) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @03:15PM (#13724266) Homepage
    It's safe to assume Alias was shopped to Apple, and Apple passed or was outbid.

    One wonders why Apple didn't buy it -- Apple has paid 30-50 M USD in cash for pro video and audio software companies in the past, so the price Autodesk paid is not wildly out of sync with that. As a wedge to move PC users to Apple hardware, it's well worth writing the check.

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