Wednesday, November 17th, 2021 Posted by Jim Thacker

Autodesk acquires LoUPE

Autodesk has acquired cloud-based animation production pipeline system LoUPE, originally developed by Tangent Labs. The financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

The announcement ends some of the uncertainty surrouding LoUPE’s future after Tangent Labs’ parent company, feature animation studio Tangent Animation, shut production of its current projects in August.

Tangent Labs founder Jeff Bell joins Autodesk, along with five members of the team that created LoUPE.

A cloud-based animation production management system with strong ties to Blender
Launched commercially in 2020, LoUPE is an online production management system, described as a “complete production pipeline solution” in the cloud.

Built on the Amazon Web Services platform, it includes toolsets for asset management, production tracking, collaborative asset review and render managment, the latter via AWS’s Thinkbox Deadline render manager.

LoUPE was developed by Tangent Labs’ parent company, Tangent Animation, as an in-house tool during production of Annie Award-nominated animated feature Next Gen, released on Netflix in 2018.

With Tangent Animation using a Blender-based pipeline in most of its major projects, including Next Gen and this year’s Maya and the Three, LoUPE is “fully integrated” with the open-source 3D software.

However, it also launched with an integration plugin for Maya, Autodesk’s own 3D animation software, with Tangent Labs planning to add further integrations for Houdini, Unreal Engine and USD workflows.

A promising start, derailed by the problems of LoUPE’s parent company
On its release, LoUPE attracted a fair amount of attention within the animation community, with Epic Games awarding Tangent Labs an Epic MegaGrant to support its development.

Its future was thrown into doubt in August when Tangent Animation shut down production on its current projects – ironically, just after being confirmed as a member of the Academy Software Foundation.

Although the product website has remained online, sales of new subscriptions to LoUPE via the AWS Marketplace have been suspended. We contacted Tangent Labs at the time, but heard nothing back.

LoUPE technology to live on at Autodesk
Today’s announcement suggests that at least the technology behind LoUPE will persist, with both Tangent Labs founder – and Tangent Animation COO – Jeff Bell and five of the dev team joining Autodesk.

According to Autodesk, the acquisition brings with it “decades of production experience and extensive software expertise in areas such as asset management and real-time reporting and analytics.

“By combining this with Autodesk’s well-established leadership in production management and content creation, we can accelerate development of our next-generation cloud production tools … for M&E.”

We aren’t yet sure whether Autodesk plans to maintain LoUPE as a standalone product, or simply to integrate the technology into its other products, which include ShotGrid, its own production tracking system.

We’ve contacted Autodesk to ask whether sales of new subscriptions for LoUPE will be resumed, and if so, whether there be any changes to pricing or Tangent Labs’ product roadmap, and will update if we hear back.

Updated 23 November: When asked when sales of LoUPE would resume, Autodesk replied: “We plan to integrate these new capabilities into our future portfolio. Details will be shared as plans further solidify.”

However, a separate question about the Houdini and Unreal Engine integrations that Tangent Labs had announced elicted the response: “This deal does not change any work or plans already in progress.”

When we asked specifically whether the firm planned to maintain LoUPE as a standalone solution, or to retire it and integrate the technology into existing Autodesk products and services, Autodesk told us:

“It’s too early to disclose any details, but we do plan to integrate LoUPE’s capabilities into our future portfolio.”

Asked whether supporting Blender would be as much of a priority for Autodesk as it had been for Tangent Labs, Autodesk replied: “Embracing the Blender community is an important part of ensuring we are democratising the ability of artists and studios of all sizes to manage their projects and assets in real time from anywhere at any time, as the industry further adopts cloud enabled workflows.”

The firm also commented that “Jeff Bell … is an evangelist for open source 3D, and he will continue that work in his new role”.

Read Autodesk’s announcement that it has acquired LoUPE

Visit the LoUPE product website