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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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  • well... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by TRIEventHorizon (744457) <LucianSolaris AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @12:08AM (#13719516) Journal
    If they made 3DSMax, then more than likely what will happen if they gobble up Alias products instead of just letting alias run as whatever, then Maya will become degraded, slow, and horrible like 3DSMax is.
  • 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.
  • 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 Mingco (883841) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @12:32AM (#13719626)
    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.
  • 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
  • by black mariah (654971) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @12:45AM (#13719670)
    I wonder if it's up to it?
    No. No it is not.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • by iota (527) * on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @02:19AM (#13719961) Homepage
    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.
  • Re:End of the Line (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sgant (178166) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @02:32AM (#13720008) Homepage Journal
    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 hard or impossible for a company to pursue something like this.
  • by LetterRip (30937) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @03:16AM (#13720159)
    [QUOTE]3D Studio Max and Maya have millions of dollars of research and development invested in to them.[/QUOTE]

    They do some R&D but mostly they do what everybody else does, wait for PhDs to publish something interesting then integrate it two or three years later.

    [QUOTE]Feedback from the game and film industry as to what to add and what to get rid of.. and extremely useful scripting languages (MAXscript and MEL respectively) that allows people/companies to cater the program to their specific needs. "Ok, we need to get Maya to do this specific task that it doesn't do right now." "Ok, we'll write a script to do this for us." Stuff like that is a life saver in production pipelines. Being able to modify the programs so heavily that it's not even recognizable as the out of the box software anymore is extremely useful.[/QUOTE]

    Blender has python as a scripting language - python is beloved by animation studios. Better still - Blenders complete source code is available - They can rip out and completely replace a subsystem if they like. In terms of scripting and hard core modification Blender is very comparable.

    [QUOTE]
    It's been a long time since I've played around with Blender... but can it animate fluidly?[/QUOTE]

    Yep. The new release in a month or less kicks butt at animating.

    [QUOTE]Can it render using the latest and greatest renderers? (RenderMan, MentalRay, Maxwell, Brazil, VRay, etc) [QUOTE]

    No integrated rendering with high end renderers at this time. There are preliminary RenderMan exporters but nothing complete.

    [QUOTE]Can it do dynamics and simulations?[/QUOTE]

    Hard body dynamics - yes (but as with the other systems they aren't integrated to effect each other); Soft Body dynamics (cloth, jello, rubber) - yes, but no self collision so limited application; Fluid dynamics - yes but only for water like fluids - no smoke, no fire - and the fluid currently can't interact with an animated object. Crowd dynamics - they are available but not tied in so that character armatures can be controlled yet so again limited to more simplistic scenarios. All of these limitations are of course known, and will probably be addressed over the next one to two years.

    [QUOTE]Does it have complex textruing utilities and abilities?[/QUOTE]

    Yes but it is not node based, nor layer based, so not as powerful or flexible and not what those coming from other packages expect.

    [QUOTE]Can you set up complex rigging solutions with it?[/QUOTE]

    Yep, handles are not very customizable though.

    [QUOTE]I'm guessing the answer is no to a lot of those questions. And even if it does do some of that in some fashion or another.. I guarantee that it's not nearly up to the quality the people using Max or Maya would expect.[/QUOTE]

    I agree - but it is for very capable for many tasks (character animation, subdivision surface modeling, uv mapping, non photoreal texturing and rendering, simple particle effects). A studio needing photoreal effects should currently look elsewhere. A studio doing TV or character animation will find it quite usable. Within a year or less studios of all sorts should be giving strong consideration to integrating Blender into their existing pipeline. The developer team is aware of Blenders weaknesses and they are being very quickly addressed. All limitations but direct integration with Renderman I think could be eliminated within a year (some are already on the roadmap) and two years tops- and with a bit of funding (two full time developers) could happen much faster.

    LetterRip
  • Re:Blender (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ultranova (717540) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @03:39AM (#13720228)

    Btw Blender is maturing nicely and is up to 2.37a stable version. Big improvements and stability happenned around 2.34-2.35 or so and the Python scripting framework rocks the house.

    Since the page you linked to claims that the manual is based on version 2.32, and, according to yourself, big improvements (meaning big changes) happened on version 2.34 and 2.35, and the current version is 2.37a, how can the manual be "pretty fucking good" ? It should be hopelessly out of date by now.

  • AfterEffects much? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Thu25245 (801369) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @04:00AM (#13720278)
    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 sales. If Autodesk kills it, it'll be to their detriment. [macworld.com]

  • by mattite (526549) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @05:05AM (#13720450)

    Let's change perspective for a minute, and look at this financially. If you look at Autodesk's annual report [corporate-ir.net](caution: pdf), there are some things I would like to bring to attention. First notice that Autodesk's profits are at a five year high (see page 3). Next Autodesk named Alias, directly, as a competitor (see page 21). Some people may be thinking that all that extra profit could make a great round of bonuses, but alas, Autodesk is a corperation and not a coop. There is really only one reason to buy out a competitor, and that is to capture market share. But here's the million dollar question: does Autodesk want to consolidate the market it is currently in, or, just maybe, do they see a trend late in the game and want to expand onto linux?

    With the purchase of Alias, Autodesk has a set of engineers immediately able to develop on linux, and by that I mean the infrastructure is already set up. Also, they gain Alias's technology. Basically, Autodesk bought itself some options, and increased market share. Fiscally and competetively speaking, they made a good move.

  • by Wudbaer (48473) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @05:28AM (#13720509) Homepage
    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 marketplace !
  • 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.

What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite. -- Bertrand Russell, "Skeptical Essays", 1928

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