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Autodesk Says It's Killing Softimage Development, Support 85

Posted by timothy
from the future-hazier-and-hazier dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Autodesk has announced that after the 2015 version of Softimage, which is scheduled for release next April, it will no longer provide software support. The publisher has confirmed the rumors last month, according to which Autodesk intends to terminate its software for 3D modeling and animation. 'We regret to inform you that the next version of Softimage 2015 will be the last,' can be read on the Autodesk website. 'This latest version will be released around April 14, 2014. Autodesk will continue to provide support for up to 30 April 2016. '"
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Autodesk Says It's Killing Softimage Development, Support

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 08, 2014 @05:35PM (#46436213)

    Autodesk has 3 Animation packages: Maya, Softimage, 3d MAX. Autodesk long ago promised to consolidate all 3 packages into one.

  • by dryriver (1010635) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @05:49PM (#46436295)
    Autodesk bought Softimage XSI for cheap, and just killed it to remove competition from their flagship products 3DMAX and MAYA. There is a huge thread about this over on cgsociety.org: http://forums.cgsociety.org/sh... [cgsociety.org] ...Basically, anybody who built their studio pipeline around Softimage XSI, including many indy game developers, is royally screwed. Softimage's most powerful feature "ICE" (a multithreaded, node-based visual programming language that lets even non-programmers build custom tools and functions inside Softimage) is being migrated to Autodesk Maya instead. Its going to be called "Bifrost", as it is the "second coming" of Softimage ICE. Many Softimage users are wondering what other 3D software they can migrate to. Many are considering migrating to SideFX's "Houdini" (http://www.sidefx.com/), which is a very powerful procedural-animation software used extensively in some of the most complex VFX shots you see in Hollywood films, like the character shatter effects in TRON LEGACY. Some are considering moving to the open-source Blender 3D software, to escape from Autodesk's business policies completely. Basically, Autodesk bought Softimage, slowly killed it, ripped out the best bits, and is now forcing Softimage users to migrate to either 3DMAX or Maya, which are Autodesk's cash cows in the Media & Entertainment division. A lot of people are very pissed off about this. But this is hardly the first time Autodesk has killed a successful product (e.g. the once-excellent Autodesk Combustion), because it didn't make enough money for Autodesk's profit hungry shareholders. A sad day for Softimage XSI users. It has powered films ranging from the first Jurrassic Park to the recent LEGO movie. It was particularly strong at pulling off complex character animation, including complex muscle-and-sliding-skin simulations (e.g. the all-CG primates in "Dawn Of The Planet Of The APES"). XSI was a good CG software. It will be sorely missed by many... If Blender can get its UI overhaul right in the next release, some XSI users may migrate to the open-source software.
  • Re:File interchange (Score:5, Informative)

    by mikael (484) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @06:13PM (#46436449)

    The modern version of Blender imports everything from .obj and .mdl files to autodesk files, as well as export/import COLLADA files.

  • by Dutch Gun (899105) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @07:06PM (#46436677)

    As far as I've seen, most developers in the game industry use Maya. A few that I've seen used Max years ago, but that seems to have been in rapid decline as well. Honestly, it makes sense to focus development efforts on your top products.

  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @07:45PM (#46436863) Homepage

    Microsoft bought SoftImage, as a part of the effort to displace high-end Unix workstations with PC's running NT. It was all over, but the shouting. Alias transformed Wavefront into Maya in roughly this timeframe, while MS starved out "dot release" life support on SoftImage...

    I wrote Falling Bodies, the ragdoll physics plug-in for Softimage, back in 1996-1997, so I got to see this happen. Back then, Softimage was #1 in Hollywood. Microsoft bought them, and when I went up to Redmond, the Microsoft guys were talking about making Softimage mass-market software. But that never happened. It was too hard to use, and required more graphics hardware than most users had back then. (I had a $2000 Dynamic Graphics card in an NT workstation back then. Every low-end GPU today has far more power.)

    So Microsoft sold Softimage to Avid. Avid made overpriced film and video editing systems, sold with semi-customer hardware and built into cool-looking furniture. Softimage had a good video editor in addition to the 3D line, and that's what Avid really wanted. They had no clue what to do with the 3D product. They did convert from Softimage to "Softimage XSI", which broke all existing plug-ins and didn't have a plug-in API that worked. That's when I dropped Softimage.

    As video editing went mainstream and Avid's sales of overpriced furniture declined, Avid sold off the 3D product to Autodesk. Autodesk had sort of become the default acquirer of 3D animation products. Most of them came from small companies with tiny product lines. Maya came from the merger of Alias and Wavefront and the mess at SGI. Autodesk picked up Lightwave and some other stuff, and of course they already had lots of 3D engineering tools.

    This worked out well at Autodesk. The architectural design programs were integrated with the good renderers from the animation world, and images of what new buildings were going to look like got really good. (Adding a radioisity renderer with very realistic lighting models allowed architects to get all the right light fixtures in the right places.) Autodesk's real business is tools for making real physical stuff (their internal slogan is "If God didn't design it, one of our customers did"), but there's a lot of crossover between 3D design of real-world stuff and 3D design of animated stuff.

    Softimage has pretty much been a has-been product for years now. After 20 years, it's probably time to phase it out.

  • by snsh (968808) on Sunday March 09, 2014 @12:08AM (#46437771)

    Autodesk has done this before. GeneriCAD, Drafix, were just a few competitors which Autodesk acquired and shutdown. Their practices are very anticompetitive.

  • by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdotNO@SPAMworf.net> on Sunday March 09, 2014 @04:23AM (#46438381)

    Is SoftImage responsible for all the incredibly unrealistic inertia and gravity models we've seen in EVERY film that ever used CGI? Why is nobody talking about this? Why was Gollum in LOTR so realistic when motionless, but as soon as he jumped off a ledge, his CGI nature was instantly revealed, due to the unrealistic inertia and gravity models?

    No, practically all CGI is motion captured - actors in suits covered in reflective balls act out the actions.

    The "unrealistic" nature of the motion and gravity is almost always because the actor is under the influence of real gravity and has real inertia - you cannot tell a 150 lb actor to act like someone who weighs 50lbs because of inertia and gravity effects are different. If you map the motions directly, it'll act heavier and slower. if you try to make ti more nimble and speed it up, well, it looks more fake.

    Accurately simulating inertia and gravity is very difficult in hand animation and very tedious, and it still has the potential to look wrong. Motion capture lets you be far more fluid and be done in a much shorter period of time, and in general the action looks less animated and more realistic.

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