I started SI not 3 years ago as an intern. I had to work with two other generalists, one on Maya and the other in SI. In under 3 months, I learnt from zero SI to enough knowledge to produce double the quota of my Maya partner (year experience in Maya). The factors could depend on the artist, but then again SI is a great animation and render and compositing package, quick to learn and flexible right out of the box.
Learning more about Maya, I do believe Maya is a great product. Don’t get me wrong, but reading more on this list is starting to make me doubt the pipeline workflow, with future issues that could set us back and keep us at similar costs and incapability with our competition in this growing market here in Colombia.
Due to our nature of being an aspiring VFX and animation industry for the Latin population (a huge market) here from Colombia, South America; the alternative software, for cost sake and functionality, is Blender.
This little rebel of an idea promotes innovation and flexibility. People are working on Ice like nodal flexibility and incorporation, it has sculpting like mudbox, compositing nodes as powerful as SI’s and as capable as Nukes, video editing (in a 3D package?!), and tools that come standard to Maya, Max, and SI. Yes, it’s not there yet, but it’s future is by the users for the users. It’s open, and developing fast. Each release has hundreds, yes hundreds, of bug fixes and cool new features. Not to mention it runs a gpu+cpu hybrid render engine already included from the get go. And it has the flexibility for developers to grow it, an open SDK.
This is very attractive here. And free, and hopefully always free.
Being in South America, our production budget is not capable of what Autodesk offers at most times, especially at startup; and I have to say that here, piracy is prevalent in this industry for nearly all of this continent. Not till the emerging studios and talent become successful can they afford to purchase legal seats from Autodesk. As a startup our product turnover and profits are small, every peso counts. Spending thousands of dollars that squashes our currency on what Autodesk or any other software package is offering sometimes is not viable if we wish to grow or re-invest in more staff and better products; as we can only, more often than not, only cover costs with Autodesk current marketing model and their most popular toolset and expensive pipeline.
This situation brings most of Colombia and universities here to start working with Blender. It is a reality that open source software is competition to anything Autodesk offers; and even if it wasn’t, it would be pirated due to the economy of the industry here. Yes, Autodesk has the prestige here, yes those who are successful will buy what they offer.. But it’s losing traction; even as corruption is challenged and more and more studios require legal software to be granted a sale. But being new studios in a growing industry, it simply can’t afford Autodesk with the industries current low turnover in Latin America (for lack of cred), especially for a difficult 3D pipeline with costly maintenance, need for development, plugins, difficult non-destructive/render pipeline workflow, etc; that is not what is needed in a competitive pace within the industry, one that SI could offer.
I had plans to grow my studio here in Colombia and by now we have produced double the quantity with competing if not superior quality with teams the fraction the size of any other studio in this country (which run mostly Max or Maya). This could be thanks to SI. This year we are landing a television series, and we have done all our preproduction in an older version of SI. We hoped to upgrade to the newest and latest, as our pipeline depended on what SI could offer – workflow, functionality, trustworthiness. We were planning to invest a lot in Autodesk, but now our alternatives are to finish our production with our antiquated software, and we can only hope we can purchase SI in the upcoming months or later this year when the contract funds transfer, and carry on till we adopt a viable alternative – which would be Blender or anything else that will help us grow faster than our competition , either with costs or flexibility and future. If we had the opportunity to invest in Softimage later on this year without any previous subscription, we would, and be ahead of our competition many years to come.
I’m not saying blender is or ever will be competition, nor am I saying that South America is a lost market – no. I am saying the marketing strategy for Autodesk software and any other 3D software should change to accommodate these needs in growing industries, with thousands of potential new users and content for the worlds second largest mother tongue language, Spanish.
I hope Blender will not be bought up, I hope it stays open. I also hope there will be a contender that also is made by the people, for the people, but that will benefit Autodesk in some way. I also hope Autodesk, for the sake of their own industry, will have a contender for Houdini and Modo, Blender and Nuke all in one, which Softimage IS.
I hope Autodesk will have the backing of a developing VFX industry in Latin America, that will not be thwarted by costly and uncompetitive pipelines and replaced by open source packages – completely legal, developing and trustworthy.
Taking away a toolset that competes with Houdini, Nuke, Blender, Modo – the competition together – for a prized toolset still in development, yes, popular, yes, stable, yes, growing… but not appropriate for an industry who can’t afford to spend the level of education and workflow bottlenecks Maya or Max has to offer – it’s disabling.
Especially when the alternative to everything is free, legal and developing fast.
Softimage, why discontinue it? Where is the strategy in there? (To make the other software stronger? without having to expand staff and business/marketing costs?)
Why not transition the business model to something potentially competitive for the competition (yes, not to your own business model and packages, but complimentary) that could even compete with Blender and their mentality of a 3D software of the people, for the people by opening the SDK and still giving access to potential customers?
Why close a competing product that can ward off quickly growing competition for quite some time as is? Why not let the people maintain such a tool to your benefit? Why not keep the mentality of efficient and investment worthy mentality of an emerging industry here in Latin America – why not benefit from the ideology of growing studios, efficiency and innovation in itself? Why have people settle for yes, a tried and true, yet flawed, pipeline – instead of promoting tools that make everyday VFX work easier (as recent products in the industry have shown created within SI). Why take away options (for people to invest in Autodesk)???
Even if you don’t open the SDK, why not offer alternatives to studios and emerging industries looking for alternatives that are more efficient and cheaper in the long run than software still in development? Cheaper and more efficient than Hollywood VFX pipelines? Why take away an answer to the industries needs?
Why not give the option to emerging students, studios and industries in growing countries with markets potentially larger than the English speaking world a chance to optimize their budgets with an arsenal of stable and competing pipeline alternatives to optimize mainstream and costly methods : Maya and Max with Nuke/Houdini (competition)? Why only offer options that need much more costs in education for multiple software, taking away from any individual or Studio from potential seats they could rather invest in with Autodesk? Why add production waiting till another software is capable of such efficiency?
Why was this decision set back in only September, then when industries watch the Lego Movie and think how did they do it? Or even Metegol, yes, working in Maya, struggling with the render pipeline – when simple tools in SI could have avoided that and their movie would not have been the most expensive in Argentinian history – or even South American history.
The current pipeline model Autodesk offers, and the army of tools that are more than capable to stand against the competition on it’s own, Softimage, is an asset.
A business asset.
Not a liability.
Don’t sell it, but open it. Don’t cease and desist it, take advantage of it. Don’t minimize your focus, you have a good strategy for dominating the market – don’t limit your options, the ones your clients and future clients will want and need.
Don’t give in to your competition.
Softimage is an asset – especially in an emerging industry here in Latin America – one striving for pipeline friendly, ready out of box, cost worthy products that works more efficiently than any first-world industry using the most popular tools: Maya or Max, or many softwares for a single pipeline (and the closest thing to a unified workflow would be Blender, not Maya). It’s an industry as a whole looking for alternatives – and now you are taking it away from them.
I have no idea who to talk to, and I am not sure this is worthy to share or send to superiors, board members or developers. But think. THINK. Be real business men, be entrepreneurs, adapt, use what you have, you have the toolset to dominate the market still – nothing can compete with the competition quite like Softimage can – and yes, Maya will eventually… in a few years – but right now these years will count against you. You are crippling your own market with the possibility of not being able to bounce back from a VFX industry unhappy with the current cost of the mainstream pipelines Maya or Max, or even the competition, have to offer..
We need alternatives.
And you have that alternative, a secret one, one that a needing industry wants and is looking for, but don’t know much about: SI. With the Lego movie, it will become more apparent that it CAN be a solution to current everyday pipeline issues with other popular tools.
You have the solution, don’t let the competition give it to the industry and market you are trying to survive in. Don’t take away alternatives to a world looking for cost to efficiency ratio solutions.
Thank you for allowing some thought to your current market to “upgrade” cost free, and for extending the offer. But do more for those who are not yet your customers, and for those who are unhappy with your other tools looking for alternatives. Don’t let them go to the competition or to piracy – or to play in a uncompetitive costly (and difficult) pipeline, shrinking the potential market to those elite few who can afford it or who already have their pipeline over years of growth with your alternative software.
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