changing times?


Now that SideFX introduced its Houdini Indie version, Fabric comes up with the 50 seats for free (no strings attached) program, Pixar is about to introduce a free non-commercial license (and a more aggressively priced commercial one), I wonder if all this could be indicative of some sort of shift in the way business is to be conducted in this wonderful world of 3d in the near future or if these are just random occurrences that won’t impact the general approach to licensing at all?


This new approach of making products more affordable to people with less money is here to stay. More than ever we are looking at a buyers market where it is almost essential to provide service on demand and selling low priced high volume over high priced low volume is the prevalent strategy. Purchasing, production. publicity and distribution of digital products has been revolutionized by the internet as much as the internet has been responsible for the development of those products.

The market has been stretched and it will never go back to the way it was when I started out. Never a dull moment though!


But why didn’t this “fly", when Softimage tried their fabled “3democracy” years ago, slashing the price of XSI|Foundation to a ridiculously affordable level? That didn’t start a revolution. So, I guess my main question is, why will this? If it will at all, that is


XSI has little to do with your original question as it is only one example in the middle of a big trend. If your post is a way of asking what happened to XSI then I have no idea at all beyond guessing. Judging by what is to be found on the web then the general consensus is that regardless of which approach was used not enough people bought the software.


Wow, that’s a bit of a weird reply: changing attitudes towards licensing were discussed when Softimage “3democracy” came to be, raising the question what this would ultimately mean to the industry. Hence the connection. But it didn’t actually change anything much. What happened to XSI is pretty well-documented (as far as these things go, obviously), your statement, however, that something has significantly changed at this point in time would seem to justify the question: what changed, especially if you, for instance look at the fate of “3democracy”?


I was going by your original post which is what I based my response on. I thought you were asking if the actions of the companies were an indication of how business is being conducted, so yes, if they were random, then no, impact licensing, then they already are. I dont see how XSI figures in the picture though.


xsi problem was the same reason why houdini wasn’t popular enough despite having free PLE version. rarely i saw a gallery (either in 3d world, 3d artist, etc) and Houdini was the main app. only large studios talk about it when talking about special effect.

in the 3democary days, xsi try to capture the mass. the problem is the mass mostly uses plug-ins (like reyes, and the like) and these are mostly for MAX. The same with 3d models (mostly .max format).

if you buy 3d collecion the best model to use is in .max format since the next is in .obj or something.

xsi also try to capture game modeller market with the modtool - but they picked the wrong engine.


But again, this is not the point I was trying to make, when bringing up Softimage. Like I already mentioned the reasons why Softimage’s bid at “3democracy” failed are pretty well-documented from the POV of the company itself. This doesn’t answer the question why the industry as a whole largely ignored it as a concept, while we expect the current trend to be a lasting one.


I expect some will disagree with me, but I think it all started with the AppStore.

I’m not talking about the race to the bottom pricing, though that might play a role as a scalar, but rather the domino effect that’s taken place in terms of the boom in low level (cost of entry), high volume consumerism. The industry that’s popped up around and on top of mobile development isn’t just making lots of apps, it’s pushing a huge number people into developing a very broad set of skills and introducing potential new users/developers/artists/programmers into fields that they might otherwise never touch.

What does this have to do with the price of VFX software? Everything. From Unreal Engine to Houdini Indie to Renderman - these aren’t just gut reactions, they’re following a pattern that didn’t exist at the scale required until recently. This is why low-cost pricing attempts previously haven’t really had a lot of impact… it’s not just the price, it’s the mindset that matters. It has to make business sense, and there are more and more cases and examples that these approaches are like magnets to new developers. SESI understood the need to foster skills and potential new users when they introduced Apprentice - unlocking commercial features is a natural and easy step for them.

I do think this is easier for some than others though; in particular specialist software that is either slightly or way out of reach of the average user. Unreal Engine (the AAA version), Houdini, Renderman… these are all slightly exotic to most casual users, but they are users that with fostering could turn into Pro employees, and eating Pro licenses with it, given the chance, or in the case of middleware paying very nice royalties. I guess what I’m saying is, there’s suddenly a lot more water flowing around to tap into, and software & service businesses are starting to tap at it.

That’s how it seems to me anyway; I’m sure there are better guesses. :slight_smile:


unreal wasn’t really ‘exotic’.

the engine was bundled with unreal games for quite some time. what changes was only the level on openess.

1 - they open enough for people to make 'mod’s
2 - then they open enough for people to make ‘total conversions’
3 - then they made it free (no need to purchase games) via UDK. and free if the game is free.
4 - now they even open the code for people who pay $19 monthly.


If you don’t call a $250k source code license exotic, I’m stumped.

UDK and the moddable content bundled with games isn’t on the same continent, nevermind ball-park. :slight_smile:

Point 4 is precisely what I’m referring to.


Lots of things may have contributed lately to this trend. But the most important one imo, is the bad state of the vfx and AAA game studios.

Indie game devs and artists, indy filmmakers, as well as hobbiests are a much bigger market for 3d software vendors. Just like photography. But they can only adress it with the more appealing prices we see lately.

I think that in the longer run, software companies can make even more money. They’ll have to be a little patient cause it’s not easy to grow a userbase with something that is as hard to learn as 3d software.


But if this is “merely” a trend in response to the current state of the industry, does this mean we’ll see a return to “old” licensing schemes before we actually know what’s happening?


I honestly thing that the business approach using by the Blender Foundation has affected the industry. Giving away your goods has been good for them.
(Relax don’t jump at me, I know that is not used in studio pipelines)
What I am saying is that companies know that they need to reach the student market in order to have a more wide industry expansion at the present and the future.

Blender right now is having one hell of a foothold at the educational market, and that is worrying some of the big boys.


Actually the chances that a brand new one would use Blender has been increasing. Many studios in China that opened recently use it.

It’s also used now for TV idents and Pre-Viz work.


While I agree the Blender Foundation has stirred things up, I doubt if they are the main factor in all this…


Glad to know. This isn’t shocking. As per the other thread (Indian animation) Blender is good enough based on the targeted level (and budget). If a studio doesn’t plan to be cutting edge (as in doing Siggraph level research every time you work on a new animation) then Blender is okay. This also to an extend reduce business overhead.

When you start fresh you also are not chained to legacy toolchain.

Talking about Blender, have there release latest demo reel? need to start googling.


There is definitely an increasing trend in Computer Art and Animation courses that have noted their freshmen list Blender as their first 3D app.


That’s definitely good news, on the educational front the Foundation can pocket imho.

OT: Do you know off hand if the trend includes other OSS options aside from Blender pushed by various CGI course providers?.


In 2D painting Gimp is also mighty popular as is Krita.

What’s interesting is that at some levels, the students themselves are experimenting with Importing and Exporting between Blender and the other applications that are taught/provided at school, especially if it comes down to beating a deadline using an application they already know quite well.