Same applies to other areas of the industry:
The long and lonely death of Autodesk`s Softimage
The story of Softimage is one of an inspired creative software application that never found a real home, and will soon die.
Over the last 28 years, the Softimage 3D modelling and animation application has helped produce groundbreaking visual effects from Jurassic Park’s dinosaurs to the sensual robots of Bjork’s All Is Full Of Love music video (above). But in its time it has been owned by three large corporations – Microsoft, Avid and, most recently, Autodesk – where it had to compete with the company’s two entrenched 3D suites: Maya and 3ds Max.
“[Softimage] has been passed around from company to company over the years like a CGI hot potato,” says Nick Webber, senior FX TD (technical director) at Milk VFX. “It's as if they never knew what to do with this eccentric genius child.”
So when Autodesk announced last week that it’s to finally kill off Softimage, it was a move that surprised no-one – except perhaps that there will be a final 2015 release before it joins the creative choir invisible alongside Macromedia’s Freehand (offed by Adobe) and Nothing Real’s Shake (inhumed by Apple).
According to Autodesk’s entertainment industry manager Maurice Patel, the decision to kill Softimage was taken to focus the company's efforts on its core 3D tools.
“The industry continues to evolve very rapidly and customers are demanding a faster rate of innovation across all our product lines including Softimage, 3ds Max and Maya,” he told us. “Given this, we needed to focus resources on where there was the greatest customer need, which is 3ds Max and Maya, in order to accelerate our development plans.”
The decision has been met with dismay and some anger within the VFX community. Some hardcore users haven’t been happy to let Softimage go gently into that good night: there is a petition already up on Change.org to save the software – but many users we’ve spoken to are resigned to the demise of what was long regarded as a brilliant artistic tool.
So how has a product that’s been pushed from pillar to post inspired such emotional connection in a creative community that’s not short of great tools?