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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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  • Incredibly cheap (Score:5, Interesting)

    by timeToy (643583) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @11:13PM (#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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @11:16PM (#13719558)
    The likely outcome is that the Alias products will get really expensive, become very widely used, and be pirated.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @11:17PM (#13719560)
    Yeah but the majority of Maya's userbase runs it on Linux.
  • What about Rhino ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by UnknownSoldier (67820) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @11:26PM (#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.
  • Re:Incredibly cheap (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @11:28PM (#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

  • by mr.dreadful (758768) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @11:29PM (#13719610)
    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... ;-)
  • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @11:31PM (#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 falcon5768 (629591) <Falcon5768@@@comcast...net> on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @11:32PM (#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.

  • by mrchaotica (681592) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @11:35PM (#13719637)
    ...it would be a good opportunity for Blender to step in and fill the gap. I wonder if it's up to it?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @11:35PM (#13719638)
    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 above don't know what the strengths of all these different programs are - besides Blender being $0 and the others being $haha for someone on a budget.
  • Re:Incredibly cheap (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BrynM (217883) * on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @11:41PM (#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.
  • Re:Incredibly cheap (Score:2, Interesting)

    by UpLateDrinkingCoffee (605179) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @11:45PM (#13719666)
    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? In fact, I'm sure the same Ivory Tower attitude with unix back in the day led to a small revolution you might be familiar with: Linux.

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

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

    by trapine (615869) <trapine AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @11:56PM (#13719718)
    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 subscriptions mandatory, and they yearly update even more underwhelming. -can you tell I'm an irritated, but trapped user?
  • by eMartin (210973) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @12:01AM (#13719730)
    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 discontinued the IRIX version, but that probably had more to do with less users compared to Linux than actual porting issues.
  • by doormat (63648) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @12:02AM (#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.
  • by LnxAddct (679316) <sgk25@drexel.edu> on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @12:11AM (#13719764)
    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 has all your standard features, it can render to a cluster, it can do just about anything you want it, its just a matter of getting schools to start teaching it.
    Regards,
    Steve
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @12:24AM (#13719794)

    Because it's a staple to every design/engineering community out there? I know someone who just got done with school, CAD/CAMcentric classes. His education consisted of several drafting/design/3d/etc packages out there. He too went through this stage of AutoCAD just sucks. This sentiment mainly came from his teachers of the other packages. Which is odd because Clackmas Community College where he studied is considered one of the best places in the country to study using AutoCAD. Most of the big authors of text books were on staff there, but I digress...

    I told him he'd better get familiar with it because it's not as bad as people make it out to be and because it's the one app that most drafting shops have. Now that he's done with school he's come around all on his own. As powerful as some of the other apps are, they have their own limitations. He finds himself in AutoCAD much of the time now as it's just easier to get certain things done quickly.

    Now personally, yeah, I think the upgrade time requirements and prices are way too high. But if you compare AutoCAD to the likes of KeyCreator (formerly CADKEY) and other products truly in AutoCAD's class, it's definitely in the same game. I'm also very aware of ACAD's shortcomings. But I'm always amazed at the lengths people take the bashing to. I was responsible for a good portion of the detailing of the main structure for the http://www.emplive.org/images/visit/about/final_bl dg.jpg [emplive.org] Experience Music project in Seattle. Yeah, AutoCAD detailed that. Sometimes it's not the drafting package, but the guy at the keyboard that makes things happen.

  • by demachina (71715) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @12:24AM (#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.
  • by tinrobot (314936) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @12:24AM (#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.
  • by nurble (583473) <nurble AT mac DOT com> on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @12:35AM (#13719835) Homepage
    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, which will be a good thing, and you'll most likely see maya get rolled into Toxik, the next gen pipeline compositor, whereupon Autodesk will try and kill Shake. If Autodesk starts killing off versions of Maya, as some here have suggested, people will just switch to Softimage and it will all end in tears. but what do I know? prolly nothing.
  • by aichpvee (631243) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @12:46AM (#13719864) Journal
    Maybe it's more accurate to say that most of the large scale Maya deployments are on Linux. You know, at real [pixar.com] studios [ilm.com] doing [wetadigital.com] real [pdi.com] work [disney.com].

    The proliferation of windows-first/only plugins is pretty obviously a sign of the small scale of studios using Maya on windows. If Autodesk were to drop the Linux version of Maya we'll probably be seeing a lot of the big studios, if not all of them, dropping Maya.

  • Bullshit (Score:2, Interesting)

    by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @12:55AM (#13719889)
    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 ground breaking features for one, are now working for the other. Case in point, the lead programmer responsible for Maya's IK and rigging system was hired by Discreet to then implement the exact same functionality in MAX.

    The third point I would like to make is that Alias has been bought and sold by so many people over the last couple of years, that finally settling down in a company that at least appreciates the 3d and film industry should do nothing but good things for it.

    The industry pipeline is so firmly developed around Maya, there is no way that autodesk could cancel development just to simply kill its competitor. What most likely will happen is Alias will continue to exist just as it does today, or else some sort of HyperMerging of some of the best packages available today into one psychic lens of perfection. I would bet on the latter.
  • by andrelix (873009) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @01:10AM (#13719940)
    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 past versions. It will be interesting to see the road I designed push through the peaks of Lord of the Rings, besides that, no value add :(
  • by Belseth (835595) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @02:07AM (#13720130)
    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 format so you can't easily migrate. Folks just write a good software and we'll stick around. I find Lightwave is falling behind other packages in support and that's a big reason for the move.
  • Re:End of the Line (Score:2, Interesting)

    by xpeeblix (701114) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @03:19AM (#13720339)
    but the real winner (in my eyes) is Cinema 4D, who's network rendering has the most painless licensing terms.

    As a long time 3D Studio Max user (since the DOS days of 3D Studio, actually), I just recently made the switch to Cinema 4D. Starting my own small studio, I checked out all the current apps, 3D Studio, Maya, Softimage XSI, Lightwave and Cinema 4D. To my surprise, Cinema 4D was the most comfortable to work in, had one of the best built in renderers (yea, Lightwave's kicks ass too) and didn't cost an arm and a leg ($2000 for the Studio Package, call Raffi, she'll give it to you).

    I'll give the nod to Lightwave on cost and licensing, though. For $800 you get the Mac and Windows versions with unlimited render nodes. Can't beat that with a stick. I just didn't care for the interface and workflow.

    Keep your eyes on Luxology for the future....
  • by lmlloyd (867110) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @05:24AM (#13720641)

    Actually, you couldn't be more wrong about how mergers have shaped Maya up until now. I was a Wavefront, and TDI user, and have been a Maya user since it came out.

    The actual story is that Wavefront merged with TDI, and that product of that merger WAS Maya. The release of the program that was to become Maya (which was going to be called Explorer 5 if I remember correctly) had been talked about a lot at Wavefront before the Alias/SGI merger. It was held up for a bit by the Alias/Wavefront/SGI merger, and then was re-branded as Maya, and sold under the Alias/Wavefront logo. In fact, if you look at the modeling tools available in Maya 1.0, they were an almost exact copy of the modeling tools in the last released version of Wavefront (TDI) Explore. The Alias modeling tools were suppose to be available in a separate Advanced Modeling pack, but that never actually came out. However, Maya matched feature for feature everything that had been promised in the joint TDI/Wavefront package, and even had an interface quite reminiscent of TDI's Explore software. In fact, the only notably Alias feature of Maya 1.0 was the shelf, and I'm not even sure that was in there until Maya 1.5 or 2.0

    As far as the rest of your comments about Max and Maya go, I think there is something that should be pointed out. Multiple times in all the press material, Autodesk says that they will definitely be keeping all of the Alias products alive, but never once do they say specifically how it will change the Autodesk products offered. Seeing as how Max is very much in need of a total from the ground up rewrite (something Maya just went through in the past 3 releases) I suspect that there is going to be a lot of long discussions at Autodesk about whether or not to fund the rewrite of Max or whether to just let is slowly whither. Maya has been eating away at Max's core market (games) for some time now, largely because Max is currently more expensive than Maya. Also for the past several years Max's main feature enhancements have mainly revolved around better competing with Maya. Why keep pouring money into trying to keep up with an app that is taking your market share, when you own both apps?

    I expect that what you will most likely see, is Autodesk fixing the horribly broken Maya CAD import tools, and adding other features (like RPF support), then pushing that as their main animation/visualization program. The Alias team (assuming they stick around) has been doing a much better job of developing features in-house, whereas the Max team has really been relying on third party developers to add functionality in the way of plugins. I think that just about any business would rather have the IP in-house if they can, rather than having to keep buy-up plugins to integrate into the core program over the years. Also, there is very little chance that buying Maya and then killing it would get Autodesk a single customer. For the bulk of the 3D industry, 3DS and Lightwave have been the default software everyone learned when they were getting into 3D. The people who ended up using Maya, have most likely already used Max, and decided they needed something else. If Autodesk kills Maya, they will just be making more sales for XSI and Houdini. If they were willing to use Max, in the first place, they never would have learned and bought Maya. Max is the path of least resistance, and to go a different way required some real effort. People aren't just going to throw up their hands and say "oh well, I guess I'll use Max after all."

  • by Locutus (9039) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @10:32AM (#13722509)
    to get built for Linux.
    That's a shame because IIRC it was orginally a unix application.

    That's right, but MSFT pulled a nice trick to "fix" that problem. They licensed Win32 API's to a few who ported it to UNIX and then advertised these UNIX companies could support both Windows and UNIX with one codebase if they ported to Windows/Win32. The suckers did just that and shortly afterwards, MSFT increased the licensing fees for the Win32 APIs so much all but one of the porters closed shop. The one company which didn't close shop was also the only one which MSFT paid to port MS-IE to UNIX using Win32.... This worked out nicely for them in court because there was ONE company who did license MSFT's super expensive license.

    So yes, AutoCAD was UNIX, got ported to Win32 and had both UNIX and Windows versions, and then only Windows versions when the UNIX port of Win32 couldn't be kept uptodate.

    IMO, it's these "games" MSFT plays which foster harsh criticism of the company. I laugh every time a MSFT exec says they are doing X, Y, or Z because "customers" are asking or telling them they want it. History says it's the other way around.

    How SoftImage was able to keep its UNIX port going while actually being owned by MSFT, IMO, would make a great book/story. And by OWNED, I mean purchased. Simply amazing.

    LoB

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @01:25PM (#13723929)
    ...and the first thing they did was fire our excellent and experienced sales team. They turned sales over to their guys, who didn't do jack to move any of our products because the sales cycle for a enterprise solution was longer than 3 months and they had to meet their quarterly goals before all else. The mismanaged our product line into the dirt, I'm not even sure if that product line even exists still.

    Our staff went from 250 to 45 in 3 rounds of layoffs (I went in the 3rd). At least they were quite generous with the severance package.
  • by lazzaro (29860) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @02:15PM (#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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