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Autodesk denies intent to kill off 3ds Max, Softimage

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012 | Posted by Jim Thacker


 
Autodesk has denied rumours prompted by a post on Reddit that it intends to discontinue 3ds Max or Softimage. Director of product management Chris Vienneau notes that both teams “were affected but are fully staffed”.

Autodesk has publicly denied rumours that it intends to cease development of 3ds Max and Softimage.

In a statement reposted on Jamie Gwilliam’s blog, Autodesk’s M&E director of product management Chris Vienneau states “that the rumor that the [End of Life] of Softimage and 3ds Max is upon us is totally false”.

Part of a historical pattern
Rumours that Autodesk intends to discontinue one or more of its entertainment products have circulated periodically ever since the company acquired Maya back in 2005.

The topic resurfaced on discussion boards at the weekend, with a post on Reddit entitled ‘Autodesk is no longer going to develop 3ds Max and MotionBuilder’.

The post, which seems to be based on a second-hand report of an Autodesk CTO Council meeting, came on top of Autodesk’s recent company-wide staff layoffs, and changes to the Softimage development team.

Dev teams ‘affected but fully staffed’
In his statement, Vienneau says that both the 3ds Max and Softimage teams “were affected but are fully staffed”.

Maya product manager Cory Mogk will now also take responsibility for Softimage, former Softimage veteran Jason ‘Chinny’ Brynford-Jones having left Autodesk for TeamUp Technologies in July.

Frank DeLise, one of 3ds Max’s original designers and an industry veteran, moves across from Autodesk’s Games Technology Group to work on 3ds Max.

Vienneau does not address one of the specific claims made in the thread on Reddit: that Autodesk intends to discontinue future development of features within 3ds Max targeted at the animation or visual effects markets.

His statement simply notes that “Max has a … challenging role because it literally plays in 5-6 industries”.

The future of MotionBuilder
Nor does Vienneau comment on the claim in the original Reddit post that Autodesk intends to “kill MotionBuilder and … build it into Maya”.

Some large studios are already working in this direction, using tools such as those developed by IKinema to take mocap data directly into Maya.

However, that’s a long way from saying that Autodesk actually intends to discontinue MotionBuilder. We’ve approached Autodesk for comment on this and the other issues raised in this story.

Updated 7 September: MotionBuilder still actively developed, Max a ‘generalist solution’
Autodesk has confirmed that it is still actively developing MotionBuilder and that users can expect another standalone release of the software.

Asked whether 3ds Max’s animation and visual effects toolsets are still being developed actively, Marc Stevens, VP of product management for Media & Entertainment said: “We are focusing on broadening its capabilities as an out-of-the-box, generalist solution [for] a broad range of industries.”

You can read Stevens’ full statement below, along with a response from MotionBuilder product manager Bruno Sargeant in the comments to this story.

“Autodesk plans to continue to develop all of products mentioned [in this story]. These are all solutions that serve many different customer needs across multiple industries and in many different types of workflows. We are not discontinuing development on any of the products you mentioned but we will increase focus in specific areas where individual products are strong.

“For Maya there is emphasis on meeting the requirements of users working in large production teams where complex data pipelines are required. This does not mean we do not expect Maya to continue to be used in other contexts: it is just a key area of focus for Maya.

“In the case of 3ds Max, we are focusing on broadening its capabilities as an out-of-the-box, generalist solution designed to serve a broad range of industries.

“MotionBuilder is still being actively developed with a focus on motion capture to be used both on set and for performance animation.

“And of course Mudbox and Softimage. The focus here continues to be on 3D sculpting and paint for Mudbox and on 3D animation and ICE effects with Softimage.

“At the same time we will continue to ensure strong interoperability between our products through FBX and with single-step workflows so that customers can take full advantage of the individual strengths of each product in their workflow – whether they are individual freelancers or part of a large production team.

“Each of these products has a seasoned Product Manager at the helm to ensure the products remain competitive: Frank Delise is leading 3ds Max and Mudbox, Cory Mogk is in charge of Maya and Softimage and Bruno Sargeant is heading MotionBuilder.”

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  • neil

    You only have to look at the last several releases of 3DS Max to see that they’ve barely done anything to 3DS Max’s animation system – Biped, bones and (ahem buy-it-and-forget-about-it) what’s that other obscure one again? Oh yeah… CAT.

    Loads has been added to modelling, texuring and viewport rendering, mind. So, whilst this reddit post sounds like someone with a chip on their shoulder, it sounds more than plausible, too.

  • Veli

    Yeah!
    See the facts and not the words!

  • cezmi

    autodesk combustion killed, but :(

  • Razor

    RE: 3DS Max’s animation system – CAT (Character Animation Tools) came directly from Softimage. Maya’s new Node Editor came directly from Softimage ICE. Softimage has a much better rigging, animation, and particle system than Max and Maya. With the Actor Module In 1991, Softimage was the first package to feature Inverse Kinematics. Softimage is the original innovator and grandfather (1988) to both Max and Maya. Max and Maya are just thieves of the King!

  • http://www.autodesk.com Bruno Sargeant

    I’d like to address your questions about MotionBuilder, but first I should introduce myself. I’m Bruno Sargeant, Product Manager for MotionBuilder. The suggestion that Autodesk is discontinuing MotionBuilder is incorrect. We are actively developing MotionBuilder and the team is working hard on the next release. The upcoming beta is scheduled to go out imminently and we hope you will appreciate the new functionality to be found in this version.
    If you are an active MotionBuilder user and are interested in participating in this beta, please don’t hesitate to contact me. – firstname.lastname@autodesk.com

    Sincerely

    Bruno

  • mariano

    @Razor: wrong, CAT was aquired by Softimage but it was a max plugin, never a Softimage plugin

  • http://www.boristheartist.com Boris Raguza

    I as a 3ds max veteran am really much disappointed about last 2 versions of 3ds max. It didn’t moved much compared to other applications even Blender has more tools and Blender is for free.

    3ds max was my tools of choice during all these years but I’m considering leaving it behind. I remember times when it was costing under 1000$ now its costing like a damn used car. 3ds max is competing in so many industries but his weakest is movie industry which is a shame.

  • Oz

    A year passed away….and also Softimage…
    So Autodesk pretty much lied to it’s customers. nice!

  • Sicofante

    If you’re going to play History games, just play them right: Maya was just a renaming of Alias which was probably the first 3D animation suite ever, born in 1983, one year before Wavefront (1984).TDI was created in 1984 too (although Explore was available since 1982) and Softimage was founded in 1986.

  • Brian Lockett

    *Two years later….*

    …You lied!

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