Softimage 2015 Last Release Announcement


#241

morally very rotten what they´re doing there, killing off a relatively successful and important tool to advance the inferior main package´s marketshares.

morally rotten, but hardly illegal


#242

some very interesting pos from Glasswork studio on the Softimage Mailing List:

"An open letter to Autodesk.

Dear Autodesk

My name is Alastair Hearsum. I’m a founding partner, director and head of 3d at Glassworks. If you haven’t heard of us, we are a small to midsized company which has been creating VFX and animation for TV commercials for markets around the world, for the past 20 years. We have branches in London, Amsterdam and Barcelona. We create innovative and multi award winning work and we use Softimage.

Your announcement that you are retiring Softimage has left us saddened, disappointed and not a little angry. The anger for two reasons; that you have shot the racehorse of the 3d software world in the head in its prime but also that you didn’t consult with us about this assassination or discuss any of your plans for the future with us. We have no idea what the future from you holds. We are big and longstanding users of other Autodesk products as well as Softimage. The puzzling thing is, technologically speaking, there was no writing on the wall as there was with Henry and Flame, for example, or these days with Flame and Nuke.

We have been punching above our weight, in London, for the past 20 years competing well with the much larger organisations of MPC, Framestore and The Mill. One of the reasons we have been able to do that, apart from the deep talent of our crew is, I believe, because of the software that we chose. I’m nearly 150 years old now but I still sit at the computer making pictures for TV commercials to the same arduous schedule that I always have. So I know what I’m talking about. For a period a few years back we had a 50/50 split of Maya and Softimage. We chose to go 100% Softimage. Its better for the work that we do and the sector we are in. Its no coincidence that all the finalists in the recent British Animation Awards (tv commercials) did their work in Softimage. Similarly, both silver and gold award winners in the 3d animation category at this year’s British Television Advertising Craft awards were Softimage companies.

You may well go on to list major work that’s been done in Maya. Sure there has, and great work too. But Maya is used as a shell in the major film effect companies. It is heavily customised and unrecognisable as the product you ship. We have our proprietary software and tailored workflow as well, but Softimage remains pretty much untouched. It is lean, efficient, and the ICE environment is innovative and empowering.

So you’ve done it. What’s next? Like I said we have had vague information about what the future holds. We hear rumours about bi-frost and that’s about it. From what I understand from various sources there are no plans to replicate the efficient workflow and full ice functionality that made us so productive. You have offered free transitionary licenses of Maya with the threat of having to discontinue using Softimage in 2 years time.

The final thought is not just about what software is best for our future but also about what sort of software supply company we want to get into bed with. The attributes that come top of my list: listening to customers, acting on their recommendations, speedy development, innovation. Now does that sound like you?

Alastair Hearsum

Glassworks.*"

source : http://www.mail-archive.com/softimage@listproc.autodesk.com/msg22471.html


#243

Interesting letter. Quite sure he meant 50 years old, not 150 though!


#244

So instead of growing their userbase for Maya & Max by beefing up those products, they did so by purchasing XSI, get the users in the camp, kill of those users app of choice, and then funnel them in to Maya or Max?


#245

They aren’t going ot publicly admit they bought it for pennies on the dollar to simply take it off the market. We all know that’s what their intentions were, from the beginning. It was just a matter of how long they’d leave it on death row.


#246

I think he based his age on the average workday of a VFX studio :wink:


#247

For those that want to see the inspiring wonderful work that Glassworks did with Softimage and that allowed them to punch above their weight

http://vimeo.com/59736707

http://vimeo.com/36897628

This is a part that is not much noted in most comments:

We chose to go 100% Softimage. Its better for the work that we do and the sector we are in. Its no coincidence that all the finalists in the recent British Animation Awards (tv commercials) did their work in Softimage. Similarly, both silver and gold award winners in the 3d animation category at this year’s British Television Advertising Craft awards were Softimage companies.

Softimage was into a second golden age, with new render engines, plugins and widespread use in awarded film and commercials.
The fact that Autodesk killed a successful software that was making high quality professionals doing premium work is probably one of its most outrageous behavior.

Right now there is not alternative in the market to a combo of Softimage and ICE.

Probably Houdini will arrive there first.


#248

Not to labor the point, but I don’t think that any of us can tell you if Softimage was still “successful” or not. That’s rather subjective. We can look at the projects, plugins, and studios, but that stuff only tells part of the story. In particular, it tells us how it impacts the end users.

Objectively, however, we can only go by the numbers. This is a business after all. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have access to the sales figures and Autodesk’s overhead. They might have well been turning a profit from it, but the long term gains might not have warranted further development. For all we know, given the relative market penetration of 3ds and Maya, Softimage may have soon reached a point of diminishing returns. I don’t know. I really don’t. Only Autodesk themselves can measure the product’s success.

As far as Autodesk buying Softimage simply to kill it, I still feel that this idea is a little absurd. If Autodesk wanted to kill Softimage, why invest money? All they had to do was wait it out and let Softimage die on its own. I mean, what were Softimage’s pre-Autodesk sales like? I know, at one point, it seemed as if they were desperate enough for new users that they lowered their price to $500. Even with cash to burn, I can’t see many successful companies doing that.

My point being, if Autodesk wanted them out of the way, they probably didn’t have to buy them. IMO, and mine only, they’d likely either be dead or a relative non-threat in due course. If they only bought it “for parts”, they wouldn’t have waited 6-8 years. For Autodesk to buy them, invest 6 years of their time/money, and support their users for a 2 year period after doesn’t seem like any sort of conspiracy. You don’t invest nearly a decade on a product you intend to kill, imo.

Regardless, I really feel for you Softimage guys. I do. It sucks to have the rug yanked from under you. I don’t envy you. I sincerely hope that you find some way to rebound.


#249

I have taken hundreds of reference pics and textures… I am here for a holiday but will be working it into a film I am working on :slight_smile:


#250

The good news about all this is that they are putting to the trash their most advanced product, with impressive rigging/animation advanced tools (Ice rig/crowd/face robot/anim mixer …).
Max is evolving as fast as a snail under mescaline. And they look to have set their main firepower on Maya. But today maya is not the best app for
- Modeling
- Rendering
- Fx

 So AD Monopoly is now holding on one thin rope, now that SI is dead , the Animation/Rigging/Cfx strength of Maya.
 
 Sure in 2014 Maya is the defacto standard in animation, but i'm quite sure the futur in animation is not in Maya, the tools are old, the workflow has not evolve that much, the muscle system is clunky and many riggers use others tricks for muscle. The best strength of Maya is that the best riggers on this planet know it perfectly and can build great rigs with it.
 
 The day  a bunch of guy coming from nowhere, will build a dedicated app for animation / rigging / envolloping / grooming, that will 
 - take asset in input (.abc)
 - allow modular nodal rig 
 - physically correct behavior with no more weight but true muscle influence
 - physically correct sliding of the skin on muscle
 - nodale scene builder to replace the reference system
 - user friendly animation with clean graph editor and clean pose lib
 - user intuitive nodal grooming
 - export geo cache as .abc to any other app
 
 Well something that has the modularity of houdini the physically correct quest of maxwell and the user friendly UI of XSI ... :) 
 
 Well but this sound like voodoo apps by R&H, let's hope someone at the foundry will have the idea to repack this as a commercial product ... :)
 
 Well i would cross the Rubicon naked in winter to put my fingers on Voodoo ...
 
 Cheers 
 
 E

#251

<i> I know, at one point, it seemed as if they were desperate enough for new users that they lowered their price to $500. Even with cash to burn, I can’t see many successful companies doing that. </i>

Actually that was Softimage Foundation I think you are referring to.
And actually that was great move. You can have couple modelers in studio that really don’t need some of advanced stuff there but just part of SI to interchange between zbrush fr example prepare models etc and send them of to other department. There is really no need for studio to buy like 20 advanced versions when they can get Foundation version where needed.
Btw I remeber that Maya had couple flavors as well. version without painfx, fluids etc… WHat happened to that?


#252

Btw I remeber that Maya had couple flavors as well. version without painfx, fluids etc… WHat happened to that?

those were the the good old days of maya complete and maya unlimited.


#253

And we are right back at those days with Maya and Maya LT. Except Maya LT is even more broken and stripped down than Maya complete.

One thing I think that has gone overlooked in this discussion is how Autodesk, along with Adobe have leveraged their cornered market of DCC apps to radically change the pricing structure of the industry.

Eliminating Softimage from the field of competition gave Autodesk far more than just patents and technology, it gave them tremendous power over how 3d software will be priced. I really do wonder if there isn’t something in this scenario that isn’t actionable by the Department of Justice.


#254

I had written this whole thing, but never mind. I’m not really that well-informed about the situation to make a lot of strong claims. What I will say is just that from all I’ve read and seen, it just doesn’t look like Autodesk fully stood behind Softimage and gave it their best shot to make it successful. On the contrary, I’m hearing a lot of crappy stuff that they did to ignore it, neglect it, misrepresent it, or put it down.

So, from what I can see, you can argue about Autodesk’s motivations, intentions, and plans, but you cannot claim that they made a good effort to market, promote, and sell the product.


#255

Not to labor the point, but I don’t think that any of us can tell you if Softimage was still “successful” or not. That’s rather subjective. We can look at the projects, plugins, and studios, but that stuff only tells part of the story. In particular, it tells us how it impacts the end users.

The fact that several plugins are being made for Softimage now while 6 years ago you could get none shows its impact in industry recently. The fact that several prizes were handed in recent years to several projects done with Softimage is another.
Any company would take that as golden opportunity to expand.
Softimage itself makes possible to do things that Maya or Max can’t do like strands for example.
Autodesk is restricting technically and creatively what can be achieved in the near future by the industry.


#256

And we are right back at those days with Maya and Maya LT. Except Maya LT is even more broken and stripped down than Maya complete.

you’re right, we are right back there. similar to autodesk doing 3ds max and gmax and then eventually killing off gmax. for those who might not remember gmax was basically a stripped down version of max, similar to maya lt. lets see how long maya lt lasts before they decide its not worth keeping around.


#257

Yeah, there was also Viz, a basic version of Max for viz without animation tools, dynamics etc, that sold for around a quarter of Max’s price. Perfectly fine for a lot of viz related work. Then they discontinued Viz, artificially split Max in two products, called one version 3dsmax DESIGN (so clever…) and pretty much forced everyone who were on Viz to move up to full Max with the corresponding license cost and subs price upgrade.


#258

Not really. As mentioned earlier there are still some major benefits.

-Patents (for example this seems like a useful one to own!).

-What if somebody else had bought them? And heaven forbid - infused them with lots of money and marketed them heavily against Autodesk products?
And maybe trolled some patents against Autodesk too for good measure.

If Softimage was hugely expensive to buy (aka Avid was not motivated to sell it quickly) it might have been a different story today. But relatively speaking it was available for ‘cheap’ so somebody would likely buy it…Autodesk did so first.


#259

I agree. Looking at the patent problem on mobile side (both hardware and OS/software) I think AD did the right thing to protect their business. Google actually bought Motorola + patent and then sell Motorola - sans patent (Google kept it) for lesser price.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorola

I think, the only way XSI can be kept alive is for a company to buy the right to the source code and then apply for the patent license from AD - and to pay AD maybe royalty basis (just like microsoft made money for each android phone sold, also due to patent licensing).

Since AD already mentioned that the reason they are not willing to sell XSI was due to trade secrets / etc. So its the only way to keep XSI alive.


#260

That is really sad, an end of an era.

If only some benefactor had bought the software instead of Autodesk and open sourced it, the market would look totally different today.

Personally, I am done with commercial 3D software. My future is firmly set on the awesomeness that is Blender.