Wednesday, September 5th, 2012 Posted by Jim Thacker

Autodesk denies intent to kill off 3ds Max, Softimage

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.”