Wednesday, November 4th, 2015 Posted by Jim Thacker

Autodesk to discontinue turnkey Flame systems

Autodesk is to discontinue sales of Flame, its high-end visual effects, compositing and finishing product, as a turnkey system from next January.

Instead, Flame is now available as a software-only product for Linux, while the Flame 2016 Extension 2 update, due out later this month, will also introduce support for Mac OS X.

Autodesk is also introducing new rental pricing for the software as part of its Flame Unleashed initiative.

Competing with newer software-only systems
The move brings Flame into line with newer, cheaper out-of-the-box systems like The Foundry’s Nuke Studio, enabling users to choose their own Linux hardware.

The only certified system is the version currently shipping – a top-of-the-range HP Z840 workstation with 64GB RAM and a Nvidia M6000 GPU – but the minimum spec is just any multi-core processor and 8GB RAM.

New Mac version to follow later this month
However, if you do want a performant lower-cost system, Autodesk is recommending the new Mac OS X version of Flame when it is released later this month.

Flame family product manager Will Harris said there is “very little” difference between Linux and Mac editions.

While there are features missing in the Mac version (GPU debayering, background Reactor support, real-time deliverables), they’re primarily a consequence of the limited choice of GPUs currently available for Mac Pros.

“There’s nothing that we’ve artificially turned off,” said Harris.

Rent Flame or Lustre from $750/month
In addition, Autodesk has introduced new rental pricing for both Flame and Lustre, its grading software, starting at $750 per month for both products.

Perpetual licences will still be available even after Autodesk discontinues them for its other software next February, but since the company is phasing out upgrades on 1 July 2016, the net effect is pretty much the same.

In addition, both compositing and VFX tool Flare, and Flame Assist, the cut-down edition of Flame Autodesk introduced in 2014, will now be available to users who haven’t previously purchased Flame itself.

Both are available as rental-only desktop subscriptions, starting at $400/month.

Aimed at ‘struggling’ Flame users
To judge by the official announcement video above, the moves are primarily intended to keep existing users within the fold.

Harris describes Flame’s new software-only format as being targeted at the “community of Flame artists that need to be able to … build systems that relate to the projects they’re working on”.

The new rental options will also enable users to scale up and down between Flame Assist and Flame itself over the course of a project, which may appeal to smaller studios that found it hard to afford turnkey systems.

“Folks were struggling to make their business work and were looking elsewhere,” Harris acknowledged.

Pricing and availability
Flame 2016 is available now as software only for 64-bit CentOS or Red Hat Enterprise Linux. A rental-only desktop subscription costs $750/month, $2,000/quarter or $6,000/year.

Turnkey systems and hardware upgrades will remain available until 16 January 2016.

Flame for Mac OS X is expected to become available as part of Flame 2016 Extension 2 – or, for users who aren’t on maintenance contracts, Flame 2016 SP3 – on 24 November 2015.

Flare and Flame Assist are already available for OS X, but Autodesk says that it has no plans to release a Mac version of Lustre.

Read Autodesk’s online FAQs document about its new Flame Unleashed initiative

Today, Autodesk is announcing new Desktop Subscription options for Autodesk Flame software. The new subscription pricing for Flame starts at $750USD SRP per month and can be accessed annually for as low as $500USD SRP per month. Autodesk also announced Flame support for OS X as part of the Autodesk Flame Extension 2 release, available late November 2015. Autodesk Flare and Autodesk Flame Assist software are now available as standalone products with monthly subscription prices, starting at $400USD SRP.

Important news for the Flame Family:

  • New monthly, quarterly and annual Subscription options for Flame, Flare, Flame Assist and Autodesk Lustre
  • Unrestricted ability to purchase Flare and Flame Assist licenses with no requirement to own Flame software already
  • Customers may source their own qualified Linux hardware for Flame Family products
  • New support for Flame on OS X in addition to Linux and the announcement of the Flame Family 2016 Extension 2 release available later in November

With these changes, Autodesk is evolving the entire Flame Family to meet the needs of a growing base of creative professionals including freelancers and smaller facilities that need access to powerful 3D visual effects and finishing tools to tackle tough jobs. The new subscription offerings provide a lower cost for facilities expanding their creative capabilities and for smaller studios and individual freelancers who work on a project basis. Autodesk plans to continue to sell perpetual licenses of Flame Family.

  • Early next year: sales of Flame as a turnkey system will discontinue.
  • Today: Flame will be available as a software only product. Customers can choose their own qualified Linux hardware.
  • Late November: license Flame on the Apple Mac OS X. Recommended configuration specifications for Flame running on OS X will be available soon.

Flame Family 2016 Extension 2 Information
Autodesk has also announced the upcoming Flame Family 2016 Extension 2 release that will be available to customers later this month. It brings new format support and stunning performance gains in color grading workflows. Lustre Reactor brings new GPU acceleration to color grading workflows and significantly improves performance when using blur, keying and softness controls for both preview and rendering operations. Other enhancements in Lustre include 32-bit floating point GPU rendering locally, via Shot Reactor and when using Autodesk background rendering software; performance enhancements when working with Open EXR source media with embedded mattes; UI support for high DPI monitors (4K); and new Print View and Print LUT support when using AJA SDI output. Across the Flame family of products, when importing media, artists can take advantage of new support the full DNxHR media family by using either QuickTime or MXF containers, as well as updated support for R3D media files including R3D SDK 6.0.3, allowing Flame to directly support the new Dragon 6K sensor and Rec 2020 color space. When exporting media, the extension supports Sony MPEG-4 Part 2 Simple Studio Profile (SStP) encoding in an MXF wrapper, supporting a variety of formats and presets.