The dreaded prophecy of the death of softimage has finally been fulfilled. Almost 6 years after the acquisition of Softimage by Autodesk the product has been retired. This is a very difficult time for the softimage community, where users and studios have dedicated a great amount of time and money integrating it to their pipelines. There is disbelief from a community that always remained helpful and proactive over this 15 years of Softimage.
The news had been discussed for a while on forums and on the mailing list, but it’s the retailer jigsaw24 the first to break the news.
EDIT. The post from jigsaw has been pulled showing they clearly broke the news to early, here is printscreen of the news.
Following that here is the official statement from Autodesk:
Even though the development of new features had stalled for quite sometime, the release from third party companies gave us some hope for the future. The arnold plugin for softimage (Sitoa) has become very mature now that Arnold is finally out of beta. Chaosgroup had finally given us a Vray giving us another rendering option. Eric Mootz with his amazing plugins helped us believe anything was possible with ICE. A small company from california called Redshift had impressed lately with an integrated GPU renderer . Fabric Engine a tool development framework had already showed us the importance of being DCC agnostic and what it meant to develop tools on multithreaded enviroment. Lastly the huge amount of compounds shared by the users, showed us how a generous Softimage community had become and how easy it was to develop in ICE.
The strategy from Autodesk will be to transition softimage studios to Maya which is the most popular 3D application of our industry. However after this episode some people will want to move out of the Autodesk empire and look other options out there. It’s hard is to take this news, but we need to be able to move on and adapt to new workflows. As much as we love using Softimage we have to go beyond the software and adapt other technology.
So what are our options? This is the difficult bit I think, there are no easy options. For Maya or 3dsMax user coming to softimage is a breath of fresh air, the other way around no so much.
1) Maya: Do what the system is telling you, and follow the Maya path. At least you will be very employable for years to come and there is a good amount of freelancers out there.
2) Hang in there: Stay with the current version of softimage for another 3-5 years and empower the third party developers to chip in more tools to what is already a very robust application. Some users suggest they would transition to a Fabric Engine solution.
3) Mix the pipe: Find a mixed solution that will give you what you want. Many people suggest modo for modeling and Houdini for effects. But both software are so completely different from each other that unless you have different departments this could become very difficult to manage.
4) The C4D route: If you do mainly broadcast and motion graphics work the Cinema4d is now a very healthy and demanded option. Looking at their latest list of features and integration with after effects this could be an option.
We created softimage.tv always with a positive outloook and because we believe Softimage users produce some of the best work out there. We will still be around for sometime to come and are hoping you will be too.
To be expanded..