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CAD to Ad
During our meeting Rob Hoffmann said that Autodesk is seeing a cross-over of applications into other markets. His metaphor of “CAD to Ad” means that getting all of Autodesk’s diverse software to work with each other is a big and important task for the company. “CAD to Ad means that the assets from say the engineers and product designers can carry over to our Media & Entertainment software,” says Rob.
This means a 3D geometry file coming out of Autodesk’s design software must be able to move to say a film or 3D application like Maya and Toxik. Getting all this to work better on an ongoing basis will see the increased utilization of the FBX file format.
FBX is one of the technologies that came with Kaydara’s MotionBuilder acquisition; it is that app’s native file format. FBX is platform-independent and widely supported within the whole 3D software industry.
However, it will be interesting to see how FBX (being controlled by Autodesk) grows in relation to neutral standards like OBJ, Collada, IGES and STEP. Many of Autodesk’s CAD and engineering software competitors would be loath to promote FBX at the expense of key file formats that are industry neutral.
“Autodesk will still support those other file formats,” said Rob, “we just want to utilize FBX within our tools to tie all the various pipelines together better.”
Autodesk Acquisitions: the softImage case
When questioned about Autodesk’s strategy when it comes to acquisitions and if overlapping product lines might cause eventual elimination of the weaker application Rob said, “artists are passionate about the tools they use and it would be detrimental [to Autodesk] to alienate those user bases.”
“All Autodesk products are profitable,” said Rob Hoffmann. In the case of the recent softImage acquisition and it being a direct competitor with substantial overlap between itself and Autodesk Maya, Rob said Autodesk plans to simply integrate it into the product portfolio.
The rumor mill was lit up over the softImage acquisition in particular, much like when Autodesk purchased Maya and some thought they would kill off 3d studio max. Rob said users always react this way but “we understand how users are passionate about their tools.”
Autodesk Going Forward and the Mac
Autodesk was at Macworld to announce the company’s new Mac applications and growing commitment to serving their Mac customers. The company could not comment on what other Autodesk apps they have cooking for the Mac platform in the future but simply said they were deeply committed to meeting their customer needs.