Autodesk Media Summit identifies trends and solutions

Posted By Daniel Restuccio on April 04, 2012 01:43 pm | Permalink
By Daniel Restuccio

SAN FRANCISCO - The Autodesk Media Summit held at Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco last week was a preview of their eagerly anticipated 2013 product launches. The event focused more as a trends overview than serious deep-dive into specific products.

Autodesk president/CEO Carl Bass' (pictured below) keynote focused on addressing their customer's profitability by increasing the efficiency of all of their software products. He also provided a sneak peak into some specific features and identified three big changes in the computing landscape: mobile, social and cloud computing.

Autodesk has numerous mobile apps in various stages of deployment, including Sketchbook Pro, 123D Catch, 123D Sculpt (iPad ready) and 123D Make. Development of apps for mobile devices will grow significantly especially when mobile devices like the iPad 3 have more memory and screen resolution than an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. Bass even showed a screen shot of Maya running on an iPad.

Another major trend noted by Bass is cloud computing. Autodesk will eventually expand their Autodesk 360 concept currently working with CAD customers to media and entertainment application users. This will allow CG and VFX producers to render scenes in the cloud, relieving them of the need for a dedicated renderfarm. The days of going back to the office and saying you'll email a file are over Bass said. Cloud computing allows the center of the workflow be where you are and frees the content producer to use any device to connect to the Internet and share and collaborate instantaneously.

Breakout sessions on what is being dubbed Autodesk Entertainment Suite Ultimate: Maya, MotionBuilder, Mudbox, Softimage and 3D Studio Max focused on a more user friendly UI across products and many new features. There's a new live link function between Maya and MotionBuilder that syncs a scene in realtime between the two programs. Move a character in MotionBuilder and it moves in Maya and vice versa. Maya now reads 3D Studio Max CAT files. Softimage has a new CrowdFX simulation feature. 3DS Max and Adobe After Effects continues to be more tightly integrated. Atomic Fiction founders and VFX supervisors Kevin Baillie and Ryan Tudhope talked about their Autodesk-centric workflow, which via cloud rendering allowed them to finish a set of VFX shots for $30K that normally would have cost nearly 10 times that amount.

One of the more impressive presentations that echoed announcements made at Game Developers Conference 2012 placed Autodesk squarely in a position to rock the games industry via a games development system still in development called Project Skyline. Originally previewed at GDC in 2011 this fresh iteration takes the Entertainment Suite Ultimate programs, leverages the FBX file format and via Autodesk's Gameware middleware communicates with virtually any game engine. This workflow allows game designers and artists a more direct hand in prototyping games instead of running iterations by having hardcore coders bind art together in C++.

Greg Castle (pictured, right), Autodesk's product marketing manager for games says, "Skyline offers developers a previously impossible level of efficiency and ability to iterate by linking our art creation tools directly with the runtime. Users can create and modify assets within our modeling tools and see those changes reflected live in the game runtime environment."