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Autodesk reshuffles Softimage dev team

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012 | Posted by Jim Thacker

End of an era: long-serving Softimage product manager Jason ‘Chinny’ Brynford-Jones – the creator of countless such Softimage demo videos – has moved on to new projects in the latest Autodesk reshuffle.

Autodesk has reshuffled its Softimage development team, with the original Montreal staff moving onto Maya VFX.

Softimage development will now be headed up by a six-person team in Singapore, led by Senior Software Development Manager Chun-Pong Yu.

The change was made last month with little official fanfare: we only spotted the news when the relevant part of the Softimage mailing list was linked on a thread on CG Talk.

More developers than two years ago
Addressing the issue of whether Softimage is being sidelined, Chun-Pong Yu notes that the dev team is now larger than two years ago, and that the new staff have backgrounds in coding at Nvidia, Ubisoft and LucasArts.

“It’s true that the team doesn’t know the code as well as [original developers] Luc-Eric and team but that’s not to say that we’re newbies to software development. Sure, we don’t have the 10-15 year histories with Soft that the ‘old’ team had, but we’re happy to say that they’re still around … and still helping out when there’s a need.”

Nevertheless, it’s still the end of an era: on the same thread, legendary product manager Jason ‘Chinny’ Brynford-Jones – for many, the public face of Softimage – confirms that he is no longer working on the product.

Edited 7 May: Comments below and in a second CG Talk thread over the weekend suggests the original wording of this story was misleading, and the six people referred to above represents only the new lead developers for the product, not the entirety of the development team, as implied.

Edited 17 May: Following our previous update, we contacted Autodesk for clarification. Chinny responded to an informal email to say that Autodesk doesn’t normally comment on development team sizes, and we’ve had no response to an official request for an up-to-date figure.

Read the announcement on the Softimage mailing list archive

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24 responses to “Autodesk reshuffles Softimage dev team”

  1. Matt Morris said:

    The 6 people mentioned by Chun-Pong Yu are the main developers, they are not the only ones – its a bit misleading to say that its only a 6 person team now working on Softimage.

    6:45 am on Thursday, May 3, 2012

  2. guest said:

    The hate that people collect against this corporation (Autodesk ) very soon will reflect on them.We hate you Autodesk!!!Very soon you will realize your mistakes, but will be late!!!Maybe you are planing something new but the rice of hate against you will stop your plans.The collective mind is very powerful.

    9:05 am on Thursday, May 3, 2012

  3. piet said:

    Softimage dying a slow and agonizing death. Wholesale abandonment by montreal must mean only got 2-3 years if that before its canned.

    9:32 am on Thursday, May 3, 2012

  4. LL said:

    Excellent news for Softimage. We are seeing new attitude with new people for example with bug squashing.

    12:05 pm on Thursday, May 3, 2012

  5. AM said:

    “six-person team” WTF!?
    Autosh!t is just keep killing products, SoftImage XSI doesn’t deserve an ending like this

    2:36 pm on Thursday, May 3, 2012

  6. rob said:

    To quote Matt as people don’t read comments….

    The 6 people mentioned by Chun-Pong Yu are the main developers, they are not the only ones – its a bit misleading to say that its only a 6 person team now working on Softimage.

    4:54 am on Friday, May 4, 2012

  7. LL said:

    “six-person team” WTF!?

    It is a lie.

    10:58 am on Friday, May 4, 2012

  8. Antonio said:

    Yes, just what I expected from Autodesk. They did it before. Do you remember the move from the Combustion team to S. Monica? It was the preparation of the ending. Almost at the same time they killed Cleaner. Some years after killing EDIT. That’s what they always do. Buy a strong product, milk it out with astronomous management fees and then throw it away. Just as Combustion never came back, neither Softimage will. Look to the next move…now they will pull Max in the shadow of Maya. That’s one of the reasons the novities in Max are so poor in version 2013. Moving and polishing some tools, yes.

    1:58 pm on Friday, May 4, 2012

  9. @lias said:

    Great news for Maya ! I love Maya 🙂

    3:54 pm on Friday, May 4, 2012

  10. CanadaDry said:

    time to learn modo or blender. softimage is dead. Dont trust autodesk, all they want is u 2 buy suite. Truth: they kill products just like sticher, realviz now softimage turn. six-person team = slow death.

    4:46 pm on Friday, May 4, 2012

  11. Sam said:

    It’s not a 6 person team, there are six new people replacing the people who left. The team is much bigger than 6 people.

    6:15 pm on Friday, May 4, 2012

  12. Hirazi Blue said:

    Let’s not jump to conclusions. This IMHO badly worded and poorly researched (come on: basing this on one Mailing list post) article mentions the end of an era, which is obviously true – Jason Brynford-Jones & Luc-Eric Rousseau, to name the most prominent, leaving Softimage is shocking news. It is however NOT the end of Softimage. It doesn’t even spell trouble per se. The timing is strange also: the Softimage communities just more or less got over this after additional explanation. If only Autodesk had learned something from their previous mistakes and had handled this better from a PR perspective, it probably wouldn’t have been such a scare…

    5:11 am on Saturday, May 5, 2012

  13. Razor said:

    The real story is that Softimage has reached a very advanced maturity level in its architecture, ICE, overall speed, etc. Because Maya needs serious help with its outdated architecture they pulled their best programmers from the Softimage team to help bring Maya back up to health.

    The new Softimage development team will bring a lot of new fresh ideas into the mix, which will be good.

    7:27 am on Saturday, May 5, 2012

  14. C said:

    Autodesk always treat Softimage as a third priority, even bundled free into other packages, but now they made a final decision.
    Students screw up 3dsmax by XBR and many forced to jump over Maya, now it’s time for Softimage users.

    7:08 am on Thursday, May 10, 2012

  15. Hirazi Blue said:

    When was Softimage ever bundled “free into other packages”?

    4:24 am on Friday, May 11, 2012

  16. Razor said:

    Softimage has never been free in any package. The only difference between the Standard Entertainment Creation Suite and the Premium Suite is the addition of Softimage… and that is a discounted $1,000 difference. You guys don’t seem to get the underlying picture here. Maya is the program in bad health and needs the help of the best programmers to stop the bleeding. AD is tapping into their very best programmers, which happen to be on the Softimage team, and using them to fix Maya’s failing architecture. Maya is the program in trouble here, not Softimage. Autodesk is just trying to be quiet about Maya’s problems. Get it now?

    5:55 am on Friday, May 11, 2012

  17. Razor said:

    Here are direct quotes from the Softimage mailing list. Jason Brynford-Jones aka Chinny: “Well like most others on the team who have posted, I too will be working with them on something new. Softimage is mature enough now and in very capable hands.” Luc-Eric Rousseau: “We’ve trained new people in ICE, they’ve been co-developing the ICE features with us for two releases now. ICE development will continue. Chun Pong did not list the full staff on the product.” Christian Gotzinger: “And apparently Maya still needs lots of help.”

    7:00 am on Friday, May 11, 2012

  18. steve said:

    time to make that mac version. Im pretty sure multiplatform support would or could help softimage get more life. It seems to help crappy old maya, and good old zbrush and modo and lightwave and cinema4d.. I guess its time to go back to all those web petitions…there must be a way to get this app back in the limelight.

    11:45 am on Thursday, May 17, 2012

  19. JimBean said:

    “You guys don’t seem to get the underlying picture here. Maya is the program in bad health and needs the help of the best programmers to stop the bleeding. AD is tapping into their very best programmers, which happen to be on the Softimage team, and using them to fix Maya’s failing architecture. Maya is the program in trouble here, not Softimage. Autodesk is just trying to be quiet about Maya’s problems. Get it now?”

    laughable. Maya is the chosen one, and it is based on its extensible architecture. Granted, great expense is being put into it to improve it, but that is not architecture failure, as much as competition. Houdini slapped Autodesk, and to fight back, they made the decision to arm Maya… why? Well, we would never know for sure, as it has greater market share than Softimage, but it would be interesting if it didn’t, would they still have chosen the open architecture and data handling hooks of Maya? I think they would have to.

    5:33 pm on Sunday, May 27, 2012

  20. joey said:

    6 man team?? WTF…

    To those who say not – who you getting info from AutoLie… haha.

    RIP Softimage DEAD.

    7:22 pm on Saturday, June 23, 2012

  21. Razor said:

    Re: joey – Yeah, nice try. Softimage is the grandfather to Max and Maya. Softimage was originally released at Siggraph in 1988, two years before 3D Studio. 3D Studio was released in October of 1990, and Maya was released in February of 1998. Softimage always survives. It never dies.

    7:48 am on Tuesday, September 4, 2012

  22. autodeathk said:

    maya already dead. since ad lost too many maya developers. and its time to bury the undead to grave. not sacrifice softimage. hope ad understand maya really untouchable without original maya developers.

    6:07 am on Tuesday, October 2, 2012

  23. JimBean said:

    Which Maya developers are you talking about? Softimage wil continue to be, as long as it offers new ways of doing things, the others can’t. Once that runs it’s course, (it’s inevitable, though with the strength of SI, could be years), AD will focus on the other two softwares.

    From a Softimage Lead Developer

    Softimage isn’t really the Superior application, each of the three apps have different sets of compromises. It’s different, and I would say a smaller world; you have to be happy with what’s in the box to do everything you need. Whatever app you start with, you accept those compromise and they become your vision of the world.

    Some of these compromises have crippled its ability to gain significant traction. For example, being built on 1990s windows API that are now legacy, and having no SDK strategy from day 1. There would need to be years of re-write just to get it on track, it’s something that’s deeply ingrained in what defines the product. While you would do this catch-up, the world would not be staying still.

    Softimage has a full development team in place, and plans for the future. But let’s not look at the market with rose-colored glasses and pretend Softimage is on equal footing with the other two, that people just see a demo of it to see the light, and can switch anytime. The facts are that 80% of the market is using either Maya or Max, and the rest is everyone else including Softimage. It’s a very distant third (although still ahead of Houdini, I think). You have to use Softimage for what it does, enjoy it, and not fantasize about a “big three” reality that really has been “a big two” since the late 1990s.

    New users or student do not have an equal choice to pick Max, Maya and Softmage. For one thing, it cannot be known what is going to be Softimage’s position in the market in a few years, but you can rest assure the other two will still be titans. Best case, I think, Softimage will retain about the same position it has now. It hinges on whether Maya or Max would get a ICE equivalent and if there are things you can only do in Softimage.


    9:17 pm on Tuesday, October 2, 2012

  24. Ronnie Chan said:

    WTF just used whatever that get your job done. I have seen them come and go, changing hand and user come and go. Its not free so why care for the name of the tool as long as it serve its purpose. I come from the time when software price is the same as a Mercedes Benz. When hardware is only a dream machine for most of the animator. WTF now you buy them at the price of what was than a one mag ram graphic card. Soon all will be gone or will merge into a single software. If they don’t do that they will die because new software and hardware from open source will take the market by storm at the cost of a 4 gb Dimm per license. Love ICE and Xsi technology. Way to go but Autodesk or any other company will only see the revenue and not the potential of the software future. Maya had reach its end just like Alias Wavefront in 1994. Good luck to all Soft Xsi user.
    Ronnie Chan
    Avid Softimage/Xsi Certified Instructor 701
    Microsoft & Avid Certified Softimage ATC

    2:45 pm on Friday, March 8, 2013

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