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Autodesk Acquires Softimage For $35 Million
Autodesk Acquires Softimage For $35 Million
October 24, 2008 | By Simon Carless

October 24, 2008 | By Simon Carless
More: Console/PC, Art

In a surprise announcement, 3ds Max and Maya owner Autodesk has revealed that it has acquired Avid's Softimage business unit for $35 million, uniting three of the most-used and formerly competing 3D game art construction tools under the same roof.

A dominant player in the market, Autodesk acquired Maya creator Alias in early 2006, and since then has continued its expansion, also purchasing Mudbox creator Skybox in late 2007 and AI firm Kynogon in early 2008.

Softimage was founded in 1986 by Daniel Langlois; its flagship product is Softimage|XSI, an extensible 3D animation software solution used by game companies including Ubisoft, Capcom, and Sega as well as major CG companies.

However, the division is a reasonably small portion of Avid, which also produced industry-leading editing and media asset management software and hardware, and which evidently decided to divest its Softimage division to Autodesk.

According to an official statement released by the two companies, "Upon completion of the acquisition, Autodesk intends to continue developing and selling Softimage's core product line, while integrating certain Softimage technology into future versions of Autodesk solutions and products."

Autodesk plans to acquire and continue developing the following Softimage products:

- SOFTIMAGE|XSI: Including XSI Essentials, XSI Advanced, XSI Academic, XSI Mod Tool and the XSI software development kit.

- SOFTIMAGE|Face Robot: A complete software solution for easily rigging and animating 3D faces.

- SOFTIMAGE|Cat: This advanced character animation system is a plug-in for Autodesk 3ds Max software. It is intended to be integrated into the 3ds Max
product line.

- SOFTIMAGE|Crosswalk: This interoperability solution is intended to be integrated with Autodesk's own interoperability technology."

Marc Petit, senior vice president of Autodesk Media & Entertainment, commented, "As we have demonstrated since the acquisition of Alias in 2006, we're committed to giving our customers choice when it comes to their 3D tools. We plan to maintain and grow the Softimage product line, and through Autodesk FBX provide better interoperability between Softimage products, 3ds Max and Autodesk Maya.

"FBX also provides interoperability between Softimage products and our specialized applications such as Autodesk Mudbox, Autodesk MotionBuilder, Autodesk ImageModeler and Autodesk Stitcher, as well as numerous third-party applications."

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Valentino Zamarripa
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I'm not really sure how this is going to work out, but I've been using maya for the past 5 years and autodesk's purchase of alias hasn't hurt it too much. This really is surprising news.

Maurício Gomes
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In fact the only "problem" is that autodesk bugs "infects" other softwares (I do not remember now, but there are some annoying bugs on Max that got "ported" to Maya)

But what I wanted is that each iteration to be a REALLY better software, to me Max 2009 and Max 7 is the same but with some more bells and whistles, no really usefull features, I would love to see some of XSI features to be ported to the other two softwares (like his mode of editing that do not require you to explictly say if you want to drag a vertex, edge or polygon, you just click on it and drag)

Alan Youngblood
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I won't be too vocal about my disappointment to see this news, seeing how there is no where else to turn now in the CG industry, but I will at least call attention to some things.

No competition = epic loss for the customer. Regardless of Autodesk's current quality, it will drop harshly after this. The reason Max, Maya and XSI made many advances in the past is competition. Competition forces other companies to lower prices and raise quality level.

More interoperability? Autodesk, I know you are familiar with crosswalk, right? That's like saying we're going to make this million dollars better that we are giving you by adding in a couple of one dollar bills. The word "negligible" comes to mind.

Big businesses are strongly appreciated in America right now, reference AIG, WaMu, JP Morgan, Bear Stearns. (with sarcasm)

Not as big of a deal, but I'll miss the good parties at Siggraph :P

I guess I can't judge all this on some arrogant comment I heard being yelled from a crowd at Siggraph once: "Buy Autodesk stuff, you really have no other choice." Unfortunately now that person is right. But it's too hard for me to shake the negative image that it created for Autodesk in my mind. Can anyone help me?

Meanwhile I'm backing up my version of XSI 7.0 and re-investigating Houdini, Lightwave and my old friend Blender.

Timothy Dempsey
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I was going to joke that "next up - Blender Foundation", but fearing too many wouldn't get the joke - I guess Pixologic is up next.

Anthony Clay
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Can't say this makes me jump up and down. As a former Maya user, I jumped ship towards XSI for the user interface as well as the price. I'm sure both of those benefits are now gone forever.

Logan Foster
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I honestly cannot say that this is too surprising. AVID never wanted to be in the 3D business, they just coveted the editing tools SoftImage create (ie. SoftImage|DS) and as such XSI was always the red-headed step-child in the organization.

What is surprising is that they sold it for $35 million, I think thats less than what Autodesk spends in R&D for Max and Maya in a fiscal year. As such it should be intersting to see what happens in a few years under their guidance, Max and Maya have benefited in the long run so far from this renued investment (anyone who says otherwise is an idiot, plain and simple).

Sterling Reames
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Adobe and Pixologic better look out. Extinction of competition is on the horizon.

Alan Youngblood
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Please let ADSK know what you think, good or bad, by bending their website survey to the customers' will.

What I mean is visit right now and say yes to filling out their survey. Often if you select "other" type choices it will give you a text box to write a message.

I found this to be at least one good way to give them a message on how I personally feel about the SI buyout. If you have any comments, concerns, kudos, whatever, I advise you to leave them in that survey.