A few months ago, monolithic software giant Autodesk finalized the purchase of Softimage XSI and pretty much all of its assets. This is big news in the CGI world because Autodesk now owns three of the Big Four animation packages – Maya, Max, and XSI. Only Lightwave 3D stands alone as an independently-developed, all-around effects and animation solution.
Sure, there are a few specialty 3D products that Autodesk hasn’t absorbed yet, like Houdini and Vue and Zbrush (although they did acquire Zbrush’s only real competitor last year), and plenty of smaller players like Cinema 4D, Carrara, and Blender… But Lightwave is the only single application that can really compete with any of Autodesk’s main animation packages.
This is important, because the current sophistication of computer graphics is totally the result of the dog-eat-dog graphics industry of previous years. For the last two decades the Big Four were engaged in a cutthroat race for market supremacy, with each player trying match the features of the other three and invent brand new technologies at the same time.
Now, Autodesk’s monopolistic grip on three of the main applications will likely result in a much more stagnant development path. Market dominance could perhaps be achieved without technical superiority, and so the incentive to excel in the areas of research and product streamlining will be lessened. A bland future for animators, unless Lightwave, long considered the underdog of the group, can offer stiff enough competition to keep Autodesk’s engineers on their toes.
We had a lot of cameras at the Christian Film Academy this year. Lots of Canons, Sonys, Panasonics, a couple of REDs and the Panavision Genesis. But during my second lecture on cinematography, I spent more time talking about the Canon 5D MkII than any of the others. Now, as I have pointed out, the 5D has some serious problems that make it far from an ideal video or cinema camera, but there’s something about the potential that it represents… It’s so close to being almost perfect that Canon’s second attempt should be truly exceptional.
So what would it take to build this next generation, this perfect video-enabled digital SLR? Here’s my basic list. I’ve got a lot of other ideas too, so if anyone at Canon is reading this, please email me!
Most of you probably remember Men O’ War, the 3D Lego short that my brothers and I made in 2006. We cobbled it together for fun, to salute the many stop-motion animators who had been submitting films to the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival, and to create some very basic object lessons about pre-production, modeling, animation, art design, compositing, sound effects, and music. We never really expected that it would go anywhere beyond that, so it’s fun whenever we get mail from people who have watched it.
Today, I got a YouTube message from a new friend named Øyvind, who has just built a stunning LEGO replica of the Verdensteateret, which is the oldest operational cinema in Norway. You can see his very accurate, nearly-scale model below (on the left) compared to the real building (on the right).
click to enlarge