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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

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

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

      I'm not really in the know about the software packages but from my perspective it looked like once they acquired all 3 they basically dramatically slowed new features anyhow.http://tech.slashdot.org/story/14/03/08/217202/autodesk-says-its-killing-softimage-development-support#

      • by alen (225700)

        at some point every product category sees a slowing of new features in new releases
        look at desktop OS's, smartphones, etc

        • "at some point every product category sees a slowing of new features in new releases look at desktop OS's, smartphones, etc"

          Yes, but it tends to slow more when a relative monopoly gets control of the market.

          When Intel pretty much owned the desktop CPU market, innovation was slow and CPUs were very expensive. When others like AMD started to compete in the x86 market, things started moving much faster and getting lots cheaper.

          It's called competition in a free market, man. It works.

          You may have noticed that now AMD has started dragging ass in the desktop CPU market, Intel hasn't been improving as fast as well.

          Sure, ther

          • I should qualify this.

            Autodesk does not have a monopoly on 3D rendering or animation by any means, but it now owns a lot more of the market than it once did.

            Blender and others are still doing just fine.
            • by Berkyjay (1225604)
              Autodesk easily holds the vast share of feature film/TV/Game development market. Modo is probably a distant second with Blender only really being used in a pre-viz capacity in any major or even mid-sized studio. Maya by far has the largest share of that market, followed by 3DSMax, and then XSI. So I would argue against that point of Blender and others doing just fine.
        • by mysidia (191772)

          Sometimes this slowing down is an especially good thing as it makes a more dependable product.... unfortunately MS didn't slow down Windows development fast enough, so we got left with this Metro garbage

        • Whilst we're bitching about Autodesk, someone needs to tell them that their "new" file format, FBX, is an incomprehensible mess.
      • SoftImage was king. Alias Wavefront was a powerful contender, with different strengths and weaknesses.

        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...

        • Sorry to nitpick, but Alias|Wavefront combined Alias PowerAnimator and Wavefront Dynamation into Maya. Wavefront was a company, not a product.
          • Right you are. Being on the SoftImage side, that chronology is fuzzier to me.

            Still have an Indigo R4400 Elan here, under the desk...

        • by Assmasher (456699)

          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...

          Total horsesh**.

          I worked at SoftImage when Microsoft owned it and left shortly after Sumatra (which became XSi.)

          SoftImage was breaking new ground constantly during this period and reacting to Maya competitively as well (at this point the two packages were for two different types of users but were converging rapidly.) Micro$oft owned the company, and NT was most definitely a target platform in addition to Irix, but from a feature set point of view it was all driven by industry desires and those desired were

        • by Pope (17780)

          Maya was a ground up replacement for PowerAnimator, which had gotten rather bloated and kludgy compared to SoftImage (at the time).

          Or as we Alias people used to call it, Soft Fromage :P

      • ... from my perspective it looked like once they acquired all 3 they basically dramatically slowed new features

        Autodesk can afford to do that because the competitors didn't move forward fast enough.

        In the 3D scene *_all_* software package development have slowed to a crawl. You think Autodesk could afford to do what they do if their competitors forge ahead at neck-breaking speed ?

        • by brit74 (831798)
          You know that Autodesk buys up their competitors, don't you? It sucks. Softimage was a competitor, and they were selling for a lot less than 3d Max. It seems to me that Autodesk accomplished what it set-out to do by buying Softimage: to eliminate a competitor. It doesn't matter what they do with it afterwards, getting rid of a "fast moving" competitor who was selling at a much-lower cost was the goal.
  • 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.
    • Interesting, your take on SoftImage as related to the games world. XSI was after my folks were all driven away by the 3.x taper...

      • by Assmasher (456699)

        Yes, that 3.x line did seem to go on 4-ev-er but we tried to get Sumatra out as best we could... Many cold nights unburying my car in Montreal at 2AM so I could drive home to Laval - at least with no traffic!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      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?

      • by Anonymous Coward
        I guarantee that's because of directors and/or supervisors. There's nothing procedural about the inertia or gravity of animated characters--they're either hand animated or adopted from motion capture (or a blend of the two). Motion capture can be tough because it only helps if the proportions, shape, and size match your CG character. It's awkward to motion capture a human and for a 100 foot tall, 7 headed hydra. Where the bad inertia and gravity show up is when directors and supervisors ask that things
        • Yeah I just finished a shot with butterflies. They looked perfect but "Felt too frenetic" so they got slower... and slower... and slower... now they fly in slow motion and are approved. In real life they would fall out of the sky like bricks.

      • 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.

        • Almost all CGI is hand animated. Pretty much everything in Avatar even was motion captured but then redone by an animator. Motion capture is great for capturing intent but its data almost always ends up completely unused.

    • 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.

    • This is about half correct. ICE is not becoming Bifrost. Bifrost is the spiritual successor to Naiad, although some of the ICE people are working on it.

      Also Bifrost isn't just coming to Maya it's being developed as a standalone API/SDK. So it's not a "Maya feature" any more than Renderman is a Maya feature.

      As to profit hungry shareholders... XSI/Softimage has been a money losing expedition since the beginning. They had a really hard time getting people to transition from Softimage 3D to XSI. By the ti

    • by SuperDre (982372)

      Well, also the problem is, if you worked with one package for a long time you don't see (or want to see) the progress in other packages.. All those products have their pro's and con's, but as Autodesk is clearly making it's money on 3DMax and Maya there is a reason why they would dump Softimage, new/modern studio's seem to go a different way, they seem to use 3dmax and Maya more than Softimage.. If Softimage is such a great package (which ofcourse it is in your eye's as you have been working with it for age

  • I remember XSI had a reputation as being the easiest to use 3D modeling package, much easier than either Maya or Max and they sold it at a far cheaper price. So, Autodesk bought it and increased the price to $5000, to prevent it competing with it's overpriced Max and Maya packages and now they kill it.

    • Softimage XSI used to be sold in multiple price brackets from a $500 cheapo version to a $7,000 'advanced' version. All that Autodesk did was kill the top of the line and the introductory version and released a single all inclusive version (The $7,000 version) for $3,500. This is exactly what they did with Maya too. Maya used to come in a $1,000, $4,000 and I think $8,000 version but then they consolidated down to their target price of $3,500.

      If anything they offered a price drop. If you're a student y

  • We had to quit including actual warranties with our new models.

    This is due to an event on our immediate horizon that we could see coming with both eyes tied behind our backs.

    Enjoy your new Delorean.

  • by John Pfeiffer (454131) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @06:17PM (#46436471) Homepage

    Personally, I'm still a Newtek Lightwave 3D devotee due to its ease of use and intuitiveness compared to other packages, but I use a lot of Autodesk's more industrial design oriented software like Inventor...

    It was really only a matter of time before something like this happened, though. I mean how long did people think Autodesk was going to try and maintain three competing 3D modelling and animation packages under the same roof when only one of them fits into their overall software suite ecosystem?

  • XSI users have seen this coming for a long time now. I myself am a longtime XSI user and while the platform is damned powerful, it is silly to spread your development teams across three applications all trying to do the same thing. If they could sim
    • by Anonymous Coward

      on a real keyboard instead of a damn smartphone :|

      XSI users have seen this coming for a long time now. I myself am a longtime XSI user and while the platform is damned powerful, it is silly to spread your development teams across three applications all trying to do the same thing. If they could simply combine the best features of all three packages into one, they could devote more time to development of said package instead and have a truly amazing piece of work to be proud of.

      There are things that package

  • 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.

  • Not a flame, just figured most people would have migrated to something else by now.

  • 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 ldephil (868060)
      Say what? Autodesk have never had anything to do with LightWave. It's still owned by NewTek.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        he wrote lightwave, but he meant lightscape

    • by Assmasher (456699)

      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.

      Maybe you were talking to the wrong "Microsoft guys" because I was working at SoftImage during this period and nobody at Microsoft espoused anything resembling what you claim above.

      SoftImage's Digital Studio was embracing OLE2 (then COM, then DCOM) because it was going to be a non linear video/audio editor that could be deeply extended through a plugin architecture - Microsoft wanted to build on that work and get SoftImage 3D onto Win32 (DS' decision to use COM/DCOM is, of course, more complicated than this

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