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Animated Reaction

What users think of Autodesk's proposed acqusition of Alias By Frank Moldstad

Alias CEO Doug Walker (left) and Autodesk COO Carl Bass.
As Maya and 3ds Max users absorbed the blockbuster news of Autodesks intention to buy Alias this week, they began to contemplate what this means for their platform of choice. Autodesk says that it will continue to develop and sell all of the products currently offered by both companies after the transaction closes in four to six months.

Reaction from users about the pending acquisition have varied from wary to optimistic. Some Maya users believe it is inevitable that eventually Alias Maya will be folded into Autodesks 3ds Max. After all, Autodesk now has two advanced 3D animation applications aimed at the same user group under its roof.  Other users are concerned about disruptions to animation workflow and pipeline structures as features from both applications are mingled. Still others see opportunities for improved pipeline integration.

?I hope that they will maintain both programs, says Todd Perry, Visual Effects Supervisor and partner at Max Ink Café  in Venice, CA,  who uses both 3ds Max and Maya. ?And slowly integrate the two, maybe with the possibility of choosing the workflow and interface, so that neither Max nor Maya users are put out.

Autodesk says that is what it has in mind. During a teleconference Tuesday, Autodesk Chief Operating Officer Carl Bass noted that an integration team composed of representatives from both Autodesk and Alias is studying Maya-Max integration issues. An FAQ  on Autodesks web site acknowledges that many customers already use products from both companies, and adds, ?The combined company will be able to offer streamlined workflow and tighter integration. Autodesk has also pledged that the various platforms that Alias software runs on will continue to be supported, including OSX and Linux.

There also may be other advantages to having the leading game development software, 3ds Max, under the same corporate umbrella as the major film and broadcast application, Maya. Alex Lindsay, Chief Architect of training and production guild Pixel Corps , says, "The big opportunity for both companies is to solve interaction  between the two largest user bases. Right now, you really have gamers  on one side and movies/TV on the other. As entertainment convergence (between games and film) continues, the interaction becomes more important.

Lindsay is relatively optimistic about workflow issues as Maya and 3ds Max become more integrated. ?In the early stages, the biggest change will probably be improved pipeline integration between Game and Film divisions, he says. ?Right now, it can  be really challenging to move assets from a film to the game because the primary platforms are different. Tight integration could save millions in production work...which is good for the companies and  perhaps not as good for the artists (particularly game artists) who  would have done the work.

Still others in the digital creation community are simply ambivalent about the deal. Thats how Tim Miller, founder of Venice, CA-based Blur Studio , describes his reaction. With 3ds Max a core tool at Blur, Miller says, ?I'm waiting to see what they SAY will happen. I'm ambivalent at the moment....but the fact that MAYA doesn't really have any technology that I KNOW we need in MAX, my initial thought was ?So what?  Sad but true....
?So for now all I know is that it makes Autodesk a bigger 3D company.  But you know what they say....it's not the size of the company that matters, it's what you do with it. ; ) he adds, responding to a question posed by email.

And that is the challenge for Autodesk now that they have Alias, what will they do with it? While Autodesk and Alias will operate independently until the deal is finalized and approved, you can bet that intense discussions are underway about how to make the most of what is now a dominant entity in the animation and visualization business.

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Related Keywords:Maya, 3ds Max, Autodesk, acquisition , 3D animation, Carl Bass, Doug Walker, Todd Perry, Alex Lindsay, Tim Miller


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