PUNE: Autodesk, the software major for media and entertainment industry has recently launched its new version of Max, Maya and MotionBuilder across nine cities so far. Pratima Harigunani of CyberMedia News, caught up with Raman Madan , Regional Manager - Animation and Desktop Video, South East Asia and India, Autodesk, Media and Entertainment Division for a sneak peek into the motives and ambitions on the company’s drawing board
What do the new versions in the 3M (Max, Maya and MotionBuilder) entail? What new can we expect from Maya after its acquisition by Autodesk?
This launch is part of our Asia-Pacific launch in 40 cities, which in turn, is part of our global rollout. The new offering is focused on performance, pipeline integration and productivity. Each of the three products till now had their own strengths. While Max was strong on fast content creation, Maya’s stronghold was character animation and visual effects. From a user’s point of view, a pipeline starts with modeling and travels through stages of texture, rigging to character animation. Now, with this new version, the products (while still being a standalone offering) can be used, combined and swapped in the same workflow, creating more ease and efficiencies for the user in the complete pipeline.
This is Maya’s first release after we acquired it from Alius. Earlier, it was limited to a specific functionality and application that now can be blended with other products in our stable. For instance, the job of a T-Shirt unwrapping for an animated character used to take eight-ten hours in Maya, since it was not apt there. Now with the pipeline combo a new algorithm would make it possible in a cool ten minutes.
With an estimated market size of $950 million by 2009 and almost all animation companies fuelling the action in this space using Autodesk tools, we are certainly bullish on growth. Visualization and films under the animation umbrella are the fastest growing categories with a year on year clip of 50-60 per cent. While infrastructure boom is going to drive the former category ahead, in the latter case of films, a lot of outsourcing work is expected to steam up the action. This would be on both the sides – broadcasting and films.
With reference to animation work done in India, how satisfactory is the progress on the outsourcing value curve and participation by domestic film industry?
The outsourcing here started on the low-rung but in the last few years we have moved really ahead and that is evident from the kind and number of deals coming to India, the co-production projects being inked. I guess a major chunk of work is full fledged from modeling to animation to the final output (except for the voice-overs).
As regards contribution from Bollywood, the entertainment sector is poised to grow at 80 per cent. With the success of movies like Krrissh and Hanuman, the trends are very positive for the next year ahead.
Is the technology adoption too late? Will it be just a fad again in the rush of joining the herd?
I don’t think we lag on adoption. Autodesk M&E has been here for ten years and has seen many trends. Visual effects were always there, be it the flames of Aishwarya’s perennial lamps in Devdas , the shot of planes flying above Aamir and Gang in Rang De Basanti or the hordes of people sitting on mountain to watch the cricket match or the remote-controlled clouds in Lagaan. The effects were subtly weaved in the script then and hence not conspicuous. Today the new trends in story telling are making visual effects evident. And they are going to stay here.
So, what new on the tech side will our films flaunt now?
India interestingly claims the highest adoption rate of colour-grading in the world. Movies like Black and Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna are packed with that overall look and feel. Use of more 3D and VFX with colour grading will be on screens now.
With the growing adoption of design and simulation in new-economy sectors like retail, what are Autodesk’s plans ahead?
Design visualization is a rapidly growing space both in terms of growth as well as spectrum of applications. Our user base extends from architects who create walk-through models, to government infrastructure prototypes, to heavy machinery demos to even recreation of accident sites or body anatomies for legal and forensic use.
Yes, retail sector is booming with action almost 90 per cent of malls use our tools for space optimization, aesthetics or aisle simulation. We expect to leverage this potential to the fullest.
Apart from design virtualisation, in what other category do you see action ahead?
Gaming is one area we should watch out for as we see our hitherto separate strengths in programming and art combined. Gaming worldwide outsmarts even movies in terms of revenue collections. This segment will really take off in a big way in the next five years in India both as a market and as a development destination.
Is India significant in quality and talent availability for Autodesk on the development side?
We have no direct presence so far for development here but we outsource a lot of content-related work here. Though quality of work is no less than world benchmarks, availability of talent is certainly the biggest stumbling block in light of the expansion prospects. I think the issue will be resolved in the next one-two years.
Where does India figure on the business radar?
It is a very important market for us. In fact we have created a separate geography here. Our Asia geography is broken into APAC and Emerging markets that comprises China and India, two fastest growing markets on which Autodesk will focus heavily ahead.
Any targets or new product roll-outs ahead from Autodesk’s kitty for India?
Last five to six years, the Media & Entertainment arm has been growing at 40-50 per cent annually which is greater than the growth rates registered by competition and overall market. We expect similar growth to continue in the next four-five years too.
We will be rolling out new products too in terms of addition of functionality and depth to our portfolio. We are also looking to expand by catering to other market segments.