For Autodesk’s 30th anniversary, it resumed its semi-annual summit in San Francisco to introduce the 2013 DCC suite of Maya, 3ds Max, Softimage, MotionBuilder, and Mudbox (shipping this spring and to be bundled together in an “Ultimate” package). At the same time, the software giant emphasized the importance of its cloud computing program, Autodesk 360 (formerly known as Autodesk Cloud). Autodesk 360 now provides even more cloud benefits to Autodesk Subscription customers, including additional cloud storage and the ability to access cloud services for rendering, simulation, design optimization, and energy analysis. Subscription customers now have up to 25 GB of storage and between 100 and 500 Autodesk cloud units per user, based on the suite edition they purchased, providing a competitive edge to respond to changing business requirements.
Indeed, chief executive Carl Bass (below) suggested that with such an “infinitely scalable resource,” this game-changer is akin to dry cleaning: “How much do I want to pay?” He suggested that cloud computing is the future of how simulation will be done, among other highly complex tasks, and part of a new eco-system in which “you’re the center of computing and community and collaborators.” He termed it “mobile cloud and social all in one place,” and predicted that the iPad will replace the PC.
Not surprisingly, the concept of cloud rendering is being aggressively adopted in the entertainment industry by, among others, Atomic Fiction, the spinoff VFX company from Robert Zemeckis’ ImageMovers Digital. In fact, Atomic Fiction is currently doing the VFX for Zemeckis’ return to live action, Flight, using a workable and efficient model for cloud rendering on a project by project basis, according to co-founders Kevin Baillie and Ryan Tudhope, who were present at the summit.
As for the new versions of the popular DCC suite, Autodesk announced a direct link between Maya and MotionBuilder and crowd simulation in Softimage as a way of competing with Massive. In addition, more interoperability is being stressed among all their software programs and various bundles.
Marc Petit (below), Autodesk’s SVP of Media & Entertainment, reiterated the goal of finding new ways of standardizing and optimizing VFX workflows to “take full advantage of globally distributed production resources.” To that end, Autodesk is working with the major studios “to develop and package workflows that address these challenges.” Virtual production and 3-D are particularly earmarked to expand the storytelling and visual potential in a post-Avatar paradigm shift.
Among the highlights of this expanded interoperability:
– Live character streaming between MotionBuilder and Maya provides an efficient way to previsualize a retargeting result in the final Maya scene before transferring the data between applications.
– More consistent hotkeys make it easier for Maya artists to navigate viewports in the 3D suite applications, and help artists familiar with 3ds Max to get up to speed with Softimage faster.
– The enhanced, consistent F-Curve Editor within 3ds Max, Maya, Softimage, and MotionBuilder now offers consistent functionality, helping animators transition between these applications more smoothly.
Autodesk HumanIK Interoperability with CAT (Character Animation Toolkit) provides a single-step, round-trip workflow to transfer 3ds Max CAT bipedal characters between 3ds Max, Maya and MotionBuilder. Enhanced interoperability between Maya and 3ds Max enables artists to move 3D data between the applications in a single step.
All editions of the Autodesk Entertainment Creation Suites now also include Autodesk SketchBook Designer 2013 concept art software. This product enables artists to explore and present new ideas for characters, props, and environments using an intuitive hybrid paint and vector toolset.
Autodesk Maya 2013 delivers powerful new toolsets for dynamic simulation, animation and rendering that offer new levels of creativity, while everyday productivity enhancements help artists work faster. In addition, the Open Data initiative introduced in Maya 2013 offers tools to help facilitate parallel workflows and better complexity handling.
Autodesk 3ds Max 2013 delivers ActiveShade support in the NVIDIA iray renderer; a new render pass system; and enhanced interoperability with Adobe After Effects and Adobe Photoshop software. The 2013 version also offers new tools for motion graphics, 3D animation, and simulation.
Autodesk Softimage 2013 delivers a new high-fidelity interactive environment and powerful new creative toolsets that include a new CrowdFX simulation feature set, along with enhanced modeling, animation, physics, and selection tools.
Autodesk MotionBuilder 2013 helps production teams more reliably acquire, aggregate and refine data, and offers a new nonlinear editing paradigm for virtual production. Highlights are the option to record live motion capture data directly to disk, a flexible new HUD (heads-up display), a floating viewer, and support for broadcast WAVE files.
Autodesk Mudbox 2013 helps artists create complex production-ready scenes with greater ease, with the Gigatexel engine and the ability to work efficiently with significantly more objects. In addition, Mudbox 2013 offers new multipurpose curves, support for edge sharpness data, and enhanced interoperability with Adobe Photoshop software.
Autodesk also announced the 2013 version of its Autodesk Flame Premium software, which combines high-end visual effects and finishing tools with real-time color grading in a single solution. The 2013 version features:
– More creative and technical tools for advanced compositing and 3D relighting
– Interactivity enhancements in Action for an even more fluid creative experience
– Improved 3D tracking workflow for greater flexibility and control when positioning compositing elements in a scene
– Enhanced grading capabilities including new color grading presets to get started on look development, new media export workflow, and Tangent Element modular control panel support