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Interview with Autodesk
Posted March 29 1:46 PM by Kelly Murdock
Autodesk was in full force at the conference with a sizable exhibit in the Expo Hall and sponsored sessions throughout the week. This is the first conference for the company since the acquisition of Alias. The theme for the conference for the company was “Weapons of Mass Creation.” I had a chance to sit down with Rob Hoffmann and go over Autodesk’s strategy moving forward. Concerning the merger, Rob (who came over to Autodesk from Alias) mentioned that Autodesk has been very welcoming to the Alias community.

Max and Maya to Remain

The first question for Rob was, “What will happen to 3ds Max and Maya?” Rob was very reassuring stating that the product roadmaps for both products will stay intact. The development teams for both products also remain intact. Future versions of 3ds Max, Maya and MotionBuilder will all include better interoperability between the different packages and greater efficiencies in their development cycles, but they will not be combined.

Rob also mentioned that the development teams are also working on 64-bit versions of both Max and Maya, but no dates have been announced. Concerning the development of tools for different platforms, Rob stated that no platform changes are planned. Max is currently available for Windows-based systems, Maya is available on Windows, Macintosh and Linux systems, and MotionBuilder is available for Windows and Macintosh.

Autodesk sees 3ds Max is a comprehensive solution that can be easily augmented with other tools to maximize the production pipeline. Maya is used in complex pipelines and can be manipulated using MEL scripting to create custom plug-ins that work seamlessly with other packages. Both products have their strengths and just like a ratchet or a wrench, either one can get the job done, it just depends on your preference.

Autodesk Announces MotionBuilder 7.5

During the show, Autodesk announced the release of MotionBuilder 7.5. MotionBuilder is the tool of choice for many studios using motion capture and allows characters to be animated in real-time.

This new release includes support for the improved FBX format, a new ND system, character extensions with enhanced posing and mirroring features, and a new multiple character solver that can deal with the interactions between characters. It also includes better interoperability with Max and Maya and the ability to do advanced keyframe editing within the Timeline. MotionBuilder 7.5 has a new architecture built from the ground up and is available immediately for platinum members.

Autodesk’s Place in the Industry

With the two most popular 3D modeling, rendering and animation packages under the same roof, Autodesk assumes a commanding lead as the key software tool provider to the game market. When asked how Autodesk feels the 3D tool market fits into Autodesk’s corporate strategy, Rob responded that 50% of Autodesk’s revenues come from the design visualization market and that Max and Maya are an important part of that lineup. Rob sited several examples of how the advanced CAD and product visualization clients have used Max, Maya and MotionBuilder in their pipelines. This also provides an opportunity to share technology between Autodesk’s mature CAD and architecture tools and their 3D toolset.

When asked who Autodesk sees as their chief competitors now, Rob responded that there is still plenty of competition out there and this competition is healthy. He then stated that, “With no competition, there is no innovation.” Rob further stated that to be arrogant and say that you do everything isn’t right, but Autodesk is focused on making the best possible tools that work complimentary. Autodesk’s development efforts are focused on making life of the 3d artist easier.

With Autodesk’s strategy and positive focus, I’m excited to see the future tools that they’ll put in the hands of artists.

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