Autodesk completes Softimage: Is the CGI industry sown up?

Published 19 November 2008

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: design, autodesk, visualisation, maya, 3dsmax, cgi, softimage

Images courtesy of Virtual-Mechanix - here’s a nice user story about how they use the products here.

While there are many modelling systems active in the CGI industry, there have been three consistent players in the game over the last two decades: 3dsmax, Maya and Softimage (its pronounced soft-ee-marj, betraying its French Canadian roots). When Autodesk acquired Alias a couple of years ago, bringing it in house alongside its 3dsmax product, many foretold that it was game over for Softimage, who have been passed around a fair old amount in the last few years, from Microsoft (in 1994) then to Avid Technology a couple of years later.

This week the acquisition by Autodesk was completed and all of the assets of the company became part of Autodesk’s product offering for ‘Media and Entertainment’ division. Does Autodesk have the CGI industry sown up?

It’s looking that way, with a trio of products that provide it with a huge installed base. What are the companies plans with it? It seems that as its done with 3dsmax and Maya, its looking to maintain the Softimage brand and intends to “sell standalone versions of both the Softimage|XSI and Softimage|Face Robot 3D software products,” with its Softimage|Cat character animation plugin for 3ds max being built into the max product line.

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How to launch a product: Render its ass off

Published 13 November 2008

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: solidworks, design, visualisation, hypershot, effing big wicked looking camera system

I know so little about cameras and cinematography equipment I’m not qualified to even comment about this product’s capabilities, but seeing a product launch, with these kinds of visuals, makes me a very happy man. Apparently Red was founded by Oakley founder Jim Jannard. I’ve also heard, but not yet confirmed that they use SolidWorks and from the look of these visuals, I’d say HyperShot too.

In terms of what you’re looking at, this is a Lego style configurable camera, you buy the sensor (referred to as the Brains), then add on all the accessories you want. As Martyn said to me, “Umm no idea what that camera system does other than look cool and expensive” I couldn’t agree more - but then that’s what good design sometimes, making something so ball achingly cool that you know you want it - without really knowing what it is you’re lusting after.

Oh and this thing is the 3D mount.

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NAFEMS seminar to get ‘upfront’ with CFD

Published 13 November 2008

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with: cfd, nafems

A NAFEMS seminar in Coventry is bringing together experts from motorsports, motion and control, and telecommunications industries to present ways in which designers can apply CFD earlier.

Renault F1, Rolls-Royce, Alcatel and Parker Hannifin will be on hand to give an insight into how simulation driven product development is making a difference in their industries.

The event on 26 November is free to members of the organization as part of their membership,as well as anyone else interested, and hopes to show them the benefits that the concept of ‘upfront CFD’ or the bizarrely named ‘front-loading CFD’ in the design process.

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PTC ‘unleashes’ its six-way beast

Published 13 November 2008

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with: ptc, pro engineer, webcasts

Pro/Engineer users, and anyone else for that matter, are being invited via webcast to listen to PTC offer its six-point mantra for helping make companies more money.

Despite sounding like a dodgy pyramid scheme, the series of webcasts will show major companies explaining how they’ve boosted their profits by improving their product development practices.

Promising a six-way initiative that can help boost productivity it seems unlikely that it will provide a definite stop to the country’s economic recession, but any advice that might help and we’re listening.

The first webcast takes place on 24 November.

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Pickle Man to keynote SolidWorks World

Published 12 November 2008

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: solidworks world, richard branson, pickle man

News just out (literally, via twitter) that Sir Richard Branson, a guy that needs very little introduction to anyone in the western world, is going to be the keynote speaker at SolidWorks World, held at the Swan & Dolphin in Orlando, February 8 - 11 next year.

Yup, the man that re-signed the Sex Pistols, brought the world Culture Club, high speed train to the UK, and founded the first space tourism company that’s ever likely to get off the ground (using a former SWW keynote, Burt Rutan’s technology) is going to speak to the assembled masses. About what, its not clear, but what ever comes out of one of the most intriguing people of our age*, its going to be interesting.

If you have the time and inclination and can justify the time, I’d recommend SolidWorks World to anyone involved with the product, the learning and networking potential are incredible and of course, its in Florida in the dead of the British winter.

*He did, on the other hand, bring us Tubular Bells. Ying and Ying I guess.

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Pro/Engineer Manikin Extension goes live

Published 11 November 2008

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: simulation, design, ptc, proengineer, human factors, manikin extension

I thought this was made available in the Wildfire 4 release cycle, but it appears that I was wrong (blame my rapidly increasing years) - anyway, this is good stuff. PTC has released a new add-on (for Extension as they like to call them) that allows you to integrate a digital mannequin into your product models. The human models can be customised according to a pretty wide range of human factors inputs, whether that’s gender, race, nationality and they conform to the H-ANIM standard (ISO/IEC 19774).

Pro/Engineer Manikin Extension seems to let you put the human form into your models, while the more advanced version which lets you analyse your humans against “a number of quantitative human factors, and workplace standards and guidelines.”

But what I love the most is the fact that PTC is an impressive company all round, has some fantastic tools and technology that is, despite the message from many vendors, still highly active in many sectors - the stories we’ve been writing about industrial designers and product developers, backs this up - but when they put together their product pages, to show off a tool that’s modern, fresh and pretty impressive choose to show the female variant of the mannequin stood at a sink (as below). Either that or its a dude with a pony tail. Either way, its pretty outdated.

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Discoverability & DriveWorksXpress

Published 11 November 2008

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: solidworks, design, driveworks, automation, discoverability, kbe, knowledge based engineering

One thing that is a constant source of puzzlement is how the average user finds out about all the new tools, software and technology that’s present in the application set they have already acquired. Take SolidWorks. Look at the list of ‘stuff’ it does and its huge, from standard part, assembly and drawings tools, through all the Xpress products and then you get into all the tools that are part of the Office offerings - there’s a huge amount to discover and learn. I’ve banged on about how important printed manuals were in that informal learning process outside of formal training, but of course, the web can play a huge part in not just shortening that learning curve, but also in just flagged up the fact that something even exists and what it can be used for.

DriveWorks worked with SolidWorks in the last few release cycles to introduce DriveWorksXpress - for a tool that’s essentially free for many SolidWorks users, its incredibly powerful - but how do you find out if Rules-based automation is for you? well, the team has just released a whole bunch of targetted examples, to show you the type of thing it can do, including Stainless Steel Extraction/Ventilation Hood, Porch/Entrance Canopy, Vehicle Suspension System, Hydraulic Cylinder.

Automation means you cut out the crappy boring stuff, formalise your standard designs variants and get to work on the really interesting stuff. If you’ve got SolidWorks, its there. Go play. and if that’s not enough, get a copy of their fantastic Little Book of Rules. I take my hat off to these guys and the shear effort they put in - if only all vendors did the same.

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