Posted by Area Editor, 6 December 2010 7:00 pm
It’s that time of year when we look back at how far we’ve come and evaluate the goals we’re setting for the next year. While the economic hurdles of 2009 posed many challenges, 2010 is proof that the industry is on the mend.
Audiences swarmed to theatres donning 3D glasses looking for films that recreated the magical experience of “Avatar” and enthusiasts are banking on the much anticipated “Tron: Legacy” to deliver another epic 3D ride. If you attended Autodesk University last week you saw Digital Domain’s CEO, Cliff Plumer, present clips from the film ahead of its December 17th release date. All of us at Autodesk — and by the sound of it, all in attendance — were very excited about this preview.
2011 Releases Made a Mark
2010 marked a number of memorable moments for Autodesk, including the release of our 2011 product line, which was met with great enthusiasm. Our new digital entertainment creation (DEC) software releases showed performance, productivity and efficiency gains across the content creation spectrum, a fact validated in studies from Pfeiffer Consulting that revealed an ROI of up to nearly 20%, close to 20,000 USD per year, per 3ds Max or Maya workstation!
This year we also saw the continuing trend of animation and visual effects work moving around the globe and a corresponding adoption of distributed collaborative pipelines to address the need. This trend has also encouraged artists worldwide to become more multidisciplinary rather than specializing in one niche aspect of CG or visual effects creation. To help all Autodesk artists, we announced the 2011 Entertainment Creation Suites Premium at Siggraph, which combines Maya or 3ds Max with Softimage, Mudbox, MotionBuilder, Turtle and Lagoa Multiphyiscs –simplifying workflows and helping artists to extend their skillsets.
Customers’ quick adoption of the Suites verified the need for interoperability, integration and workflow simplification. Making our tools work better together and improving ease of use is helping to pave the way towards standardization in the way people implement their workflows, further simplifying project deployment across facilities and oceans.
The past year was also a great one for our creative finishing solutions with the 2011 releases of Flame, Flare, Smoke, Smoke For Mac and Lustre. The goal at IBC was to make our high end finishing tools even more accessible, interoperable and affordable, and we delivered it by introducing Flame Premium – Flame, Smoke and Lustre combined into one product at a considerable discount.
We’re hearing more and more of our customers talking about ‘transmedia’ and looking for efficient ways to develop content that can live across multiple platforms and non-linear storylines. With 720p streaming being the norm on the Internet, the requirements of broadcast and Internet video are converging, and because audiences have high quality expectations, we’re seeing increasingly sophisticated content produced across the board. To help with this transition we’re moving forward to mainstream editorial finishing by bringing high-quality tools like Smoke For Mac to video professionals. In the future you can look forward to enhanced hooks between Maya and Smoke For Mac for an all-encompassing 2D/3D design and production solution.
We also took a big step in the educational market by making 36-month licenses of all of our software available for free online via the Autodesk Student Community. The number of students taking advantage of this is in the hundreds of thousands. This commitment extends beyond just applications, as we’ve released a wealth of educational content so it’s easier than ever for people to learn how to use the tools that will get them jobs in animation, visual effects, 3D design, design visualization and beyond. We’ve also put significant discounts in place for educational institutions and have deployed more than a hundred thousand seats of our software Suites in universities around the world.
The last year has also seen a consolidation of talents, where its far more likely that artists who may have specialized in one post production niche five years ago, may be completing VFX, color grading and finishing on a project themselves—and don’t want to turn to five different applications to get the work done. Flame Premium and Smoke on the Mac are making end-to-end finishing much more accessible to this level of artist.
We’re excited about the momentum we’re seeing for Autodesk solutions in the games industry and the directions in which gaming is moving – from compelling graphics in games like “Halo: Reach” and “Call of Duty: Black Ops” to forthcoming S3D content on consoles and handhelds. The games community responded well to our 2011 releases and the Suites. We greatly enhanced our middleware products – the 2011 versions of HumanIK and Kynapse, and added advanced lighting solutions to our line of products with the acquisition of Beast.
Other highlights of the year include the launch of Sketchbook for the iPad, our new FluidFX iphone app, the 3ds Max 20th Anniversary, an Academy Award for the developers of Lustre, the Maya 3D Technology Lumiere™ Award and more.
What I will remember of 2010 is the growing presence of previsualization in modern moviemaking, the rise of virtual production and the quick expansion of cross-continent distributed collaborative production. We saw social/casual games take the industry by storm, posing a complex challenge to PC and console game developers.
Looking ahead, we have a lot of incredibly interesting things planned that unfortunately, can’t be disclosed in this blog post. But if our demonstrations at last year’s GDC are any indication, look for some compelling efforts in the game development arena and across all content creation markets. We have been laying the foundation for our game authoring solutions via acquisitions over the last two years—and by building out a hybrid team of internal software engineers that is equally entrenched in animation tools and run time middleware. This team is working to create unique solutions for developers that will bridge the worlds of content creation and game authoring—and I’m very optimistic for what’s to come! We have some exciting things in store to satisfy all artists using Autodesk tools, whether they’re in visual effects, commercials, broadcast television, design visualization, manufacturing, game development, architecture, special venue or interactive—and, as always we can’t wait to see what you, our incredibly talented user base, has in store for us!
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