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SIGGRAPH 2006 Report

Autodesk Users meet at Siggraph 2006

Autodesk users gathered at Siggraph 2006 to see Autodesk's latest developments showcased. The meeting started with a demo team that showed the entire pipeline for completing an animation of a frog at the carnival romancing his girlfriend. The initial sketches were completed in Sketchbook. These sketches were then pulled directly into Max where the 3D modeling was complete. The assets were then transferred to MotionBuilder where the shots were blocked and animated. Using the FBX format, the assets were returned to Maya where they were rendered. The rendered shots were finally composited in Combustion. The demo showed the strength of the Autodesk tools that encompass the entire production pipeline.

Autodesk Masters Awarded

Six individuals were recognized as Autodesk Masters for the contributions to the industry and to the Autodesk community. The award recipients were Bobo Petrov, Paul Thuriot, Lon Grohs, T.J. Galda, Neil Blevins, and Chris White.

Autodesk Clients Show-Off

Several Autodesk customers were invited on stage to show off their current success produced with Autodesk tools. Tim Naylor from Industrial Light and Magic showed how Davy Jones was created for the movie, Pirates of the Caribbean, Dead Man's Chest. Of particular, Tim showed how Autodesk tools were used to create the tentacles of Davy Jones' beard. Tim also showed some humorous takes where the pirates were swordfighting with light sabers and where the rolling water wheel was traded out for a Krispy Kreme doughnut.

Chris Bond and Chris Harvey of Frantic Films showed how the Autodesk products were used to create digital effects for the movie, Superman Returns. Some of the waterfront effects included systems with over 1 billion particles per frame.

Stu Maschwitz of the Orphanage humorously observed that now that Autodesk owns Max and Maya, "what else would you use."

Didier Madok of GMJ, an architectural design firm, concluded the client demonstrations by showing off a 36 square kilometer of London that was modeled in Max using 12 million polygons. Despite the size of the dataset, a 64-bit version of 3ds Max was still able to display and work with this enormous scene.

New 3ds Max 9 Features

The Autodesk meeting then changed gears and showed off the new features included in the soon to be released 3ds Max 9. This release is focused on speed, pipeline and performance to address the feedback from Max users. This release also includes mental ray 3.5 and an implementation that makes it easier to use. Users complained that mental ray is great, but it was hard to figure out all the various settings. Users can now specify a mental ray rendering with only 3 clicks. Max 9 also includes a new car paint shader and a set of architecture materials with Ambient Occlusion.

The biggest news with Max 9 is the inclusion of a 64-bit version of the application. This will enable users to display and manipulate large datasets. The new Point Cache 2 modifier lets users bake animation keys into a model and can be seamlessly transported to Maya. The demo of this modifier showed a scene with 3 million animated polygons that displayed without a hitch. The FBX format has also been updated allowing better integration with MotionBuilder.

Maya 8 Available Now

The new features in Maya 8 were also shown at the meeting along with an announcement that Platinum Subscription members can download Maya 8 today. Like Max 9, Maya 8 development was focused on improving performance and efficiency including a 64-bit version. Maya 8 has scalable threading.

Other new features include the ability to transfer attributes between objects. The window view can be set to view the scene using Direct 3D enabling users to view their scene just as it would be seen within the game engine. Maya 8 also features better interoperatability with Toxic.

New Project Portal Announced

Autodesk announced a new project portal that is based off the Maya community portal and expanded to include all Autodesk products. The portal named Area will go live on August 22.

Autodesk Previews New Technologies

To conclude the meeting, Autodesk took a moment to show off some of its own research. The Gepetto system combines and analyzes in real-time multiple animation clips to produce a resulting animation that is smooth and fluid. This will allow directors to control the motions of a character without having to regenerate keyframes.

The Maya research team showed off a unified solver that is extensible for dynamic motions that behave realistically.

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