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At AU 2014, Think About AU 2019

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Next week, along with what is expected to be over 9,000 attendees, we’ll be in Las Vegas for Autodesk University (AU). Yes, it’s an Autodesk vehicle, but it’s also much bigger than that.

AU is analogous to a big box store (ironically, it starts on Cyber Monday – December 1) with one-stop shopping for technical software for a broad range of industries – manufacturing, media/entertainment, GIS, AEC, and so on.

If you’re coming to Las Vegas for AU, it’s always a good idea to know your objectives for attending and what you hope to get out of it. In other words, come with an agenda based on asking the following questions on behalf of yourself and your company looking ahead five years:

  • What are you working on now and what do you want to be working on?
  • What will be the core competencies of our company and our competitors?
  • What technologies are our competitors acquiring and implementing, and are they new or complementary?
  • What technologies will emerge and be vital to our business?
  • Will our company be able to use methods and technologies from other industries?
  • Will our company grow strictly by organic means, or through partnerships, mergers, and acquisitions?
  • How will our company’s staff differ from todays and what skill sets will be required?
  • How will we deal with data – interoperability, legacy, management, etc.?

These are all important questions, because regardless of position today, no company can afford to remain complacent if they hope to remain competitive.

AU 2014

AU is always a good place for monitoring industry and technology trends, market direction, future requirements, industry rumors, and R&D within Autodesk and many of its partners.

AU, like other live software/technology events are great for meeting with Autodesk folks, exhibitors, peers, and potential customers. It’s also an opportunity to learn at the myriad industry-specific classes that are offered, as well as unparalleled networking. With all that we do via email, texting, phone calls, Skype, Web meetings, etc., AU is a great venue for face to face discussions and conversations before, during, and after each day’s formal events. Some of the best inside “dirt” (ranging from successes to frustrations) we pick up on is outside the confines of the conference itself, and we always look forward to catching up with old friends and meeting new ones.

Always expect the unexpected at AU, because you might just hear, see, or learn something that will drive a solution to a problem, or a new direction for you, your company, and your career.

So, if you are going to AU 2014, don’t just go for the sake of this year, but also for considerations down the road.


When Manufacturing Technology and Entertainment Creativity Collide, Good Things Can Happen

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Since I handle two publications for IBSystems, MCADCafe and ShareCG, I attend a number of conferences and trade shows during the year for each publication. The markets for these events couldn’t be more different with regard to content, markets, audience, technologies, end products, and so on. The more I think about it, though, are they really that different?

Obviously, both entertainment and manufacturing employ a number of the same technologies, such as digital design methods, 3D scanning, 3D printing, project management, etc. – just with different end results – one physical, and one virtual.

This commonality really hit home in the past couple of months after attending two gigantic conferences and exhibitions – SIGGRAPH for ShareCG and IMTS for MCADCafe.

IMTS 2014 Overview


CG Market Forecast To Be ~$150 Billion By 2017

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

At SIGGRAPH 2014 last month we saw and heard many interesting things that greatly influence the computer graphics market – hardware, software, and services. We were invited to a luncheon sponsored by our friends at Jon Peddie Research that included a presentation on the CG market, entitled “Expectations, Fact, and Fantasy.”

As usual, Jon’s comprehensive presentation covered many aspects of the CG market, but the most telling facts were his forecast that the CG market will enjoy at least 5.5% annual growth for the next few years, and that he thinks the CG market as a whole will exceed $149 billion by 2017.

Interview With Jon Peddie Research and Dreamworks Animation

He said that the computer graphics industry has been a growth industry since it was established in the late 1970s. It has weathered the storms of recessions and has emerged renewed vigor and potential, partly due to a big boost from mobile and the move to 4K, but also from emerging technologies including 3D scanning, 3D printing, augmented reality, and VR.

The computer graphics hardware market was worth $120 billion in 2013 and is expected to exceed $149 billion by 2017, with software growing slightly slower than hardware.

The hardware segment of the CG industry has had steady growth, with the exception of gaming PC sales, which dropped by 3% over the past year. The largest growth has been in workstations and monitors, with (the already high) mobile graphics segment coming in a strong third. Gaming PCs have had steady to strong growth, and the total PC gaming hardware market (which includes aftermarket sales and peripherals) is estimated to be worth over $30 billion. New activity in APIs with developments like AMD’s Mantle, Google’s driver extensions for OpenGL ES, Apple’s Metal, and the promise of DirectX 12 in 2015 all will contribute to faster, richer, and higher resolution graphics for everyone.

For CG hardware, the biggest segment for 2017 will be mobile devices, with forecast sales exceeding $127 billion.

In 2013 the CG software market was worth $14 billion (not counting services, maintenance and other aspects) and is expected to grow to $17 billion by 2017 as the industry shakes off the remaining effects of the recession and starts upgrading software tools. The software suppliers (ISVs) have also changed their sales model moving more services to the cloud.

On the CG software side, CAD/CAM software was the largest single segment, with forecast sales of almost $9 billion in 2017.

We will see the development of traditional segments like CAD/CAM expand as new design approaches in automotive, aerospace, and architecture are adopted. The visualization market is showing significant growth due to the availability of more powerful and less expensive visualization technologies. GPU compute employing OpenCL and CUDA is penetrating further into new as well as traditional applications.

The software content creation market has been tough for the market leaders. They’re living with a mature market, with little growth, but stability among the competitors. However, there are new opportunities emerging as new approaches to content creation become practical, new distribution channels open up, and young generations arrive with a new fascination for 3D.

The demand for programmers, artists, scientists, and designers has picked up and the CG market is seeing startups arrive in emerging and reborn markets such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and casual games. The arrival of new APIs, and platforms are also stimulating development. Firms are actively looking for people who can use and exploit these new programs and their associated hardware accelerators.

New opportunities are also growing out of mainstream applications for the web and consumer applications. The social web remains a strong engine for growth. Social networks are encouraging people to learn new tools, create content for pleasure, and even look for jobs in the field. What used to be a very closed society of experts is now opening up due to the democratization of CG, fueled by Moore’s law and price-elasticity due to lower software costs.

MAXON CINEMA 4D Provides Versatile CG Tools for Media, Entertainment, and MCAD

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

During SIGGRAPH 2014, we talked to a lot of attendees and exhibitors. One of the CG software developers we spent time with was MAXON, whose flagship product line is CINEMA 4D. Admittedly, this software product is targeted primarily to the media/entertainment market, but also has a place in the MCAD world as well, just as Autodesk’s Maya and 3ds Max have. Certainly not a huge market, but one that has a place for these specialized applications.

CINEMA 4D is a 3D modeling, animation and rendering application developed by MAXON Computer GmbH (Friedrichsdorf, Germany). It is capable of procedural and polygonal/surface modeling, animating, lighting, texturing, rendering, and common features found in 3D modeling applications.

We spoke with Paul Babb, President and CEO of MAXON for the Americas. He said that CINEMA 4D is an animation product used for motion graphics for broadcast television, visual effects, scientific/medical animation, video game graphics, and architectural and engineering visualization.

At their SIGGRAPH 2014 exhibit, MAXON employed a wide range of artists at the booth showing what CINEMA 4D can do, such as game developers, visual effects artists, and motion graphics experts. Also exhibited at the booth were demonstrations showing integration with the Arnold renderer and the Houdini graphics engine.

What is CINEMA 4D?


SIGGRAPH 2014: – Cloud-based 3D Modeling, Rendering, and Animation

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Although SIGGRAPH is primarily focused on computer graphics (CG) as it relates to media and entertainment (M&E), there were several technologies that could be used constructively in the MCAD arena.

One of the more interesting ones we came across with possible MCAD implications was, a web-based 3D computer graphics software developed by Exocortex, a Canadian software company. was announced in July 2013 and first presented as part of the SIGGRAPH 2013 program later that month. With that in mind, we checked it out earlier this month at SIGGRAPH 2014 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Basics of Polygon Modeling is offered on what the company calls a freemium basis, a pricing strategy by which a product or service (typically a digital offering such as software, media, games or web services) is provided free of charge, but money (premium) is charged for proprietary features and functionality. freemium pricing structure is discussed below. is part of an ongoing proliferation of web/cloud-based 3D technologies. WebGL, HMTL5, CSS3D, and Canvas were the start, and were followed by a myriad libraries and other 3D software that runs inside web browsers, and also can run under any OS, tablet, or smartphone. is an impressive example of such burgeoning cloud-based technology. Instead of being a proof of concept or a set of limited features, is a comprehensive 3D app. It’s also open source and promises to support the Blender file format in the future (more about Blender later). Real-time Collaboration has many interesting following features, including:

  • Hierarchical scene graph
  • Lights and cameras
  • Robust support for Polymeshes, including indexed UV, Normal and Color maps
  • Flexible operators (known as “modifiers” in 3DS Max.
  • Keyframe-based animation
  • Powerful sub-object editing
  • Renderer and pass management
  • Extensive materials
  • Sharing/collaboration capabilities
  • Rudimentary bones and skinning
  • Real-time multi-user collaborative editing
  • Automatic versioning with history (somewhat analogous to parametric, history-based CAD modeling and a PDM system)
  • Plugin model
  • Script log
  • FBX, Collada, OBJ, ThreeJS and STL file format support.


The (Possible) Future of MCAD CG and Interaction Innovation Showcased at SIGGRAPH 2014

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014


We just returned from one of the most interesting events of the year for us and one that we always look forward to – SIGGRAPH 2014. SIGGRAPH (short for Special Interest Group on GRAPHics and Interactive Techniques) is the name of the annual conference on computer graphics (CG) convened by the ACM SIGGRAPH organization.

The first SIGGRAPH conference was in 1974, and this year’s event was held in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia.

As usual, we found the most interesting aspects of the conference to be the SIGGRAPH Emerging Technologies program and the exhibit floor.

SIGGRAPH 2014 Emerging Technologies Preview


TurboCAD pro : Start at $299

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