Autodesk announced today that they have acquired Shotgun Software, creators of the the production tracking, asset management, and review pipeline tool used in over 500 facilities around the world. We examine the news and uncover why this is a win for the companies as well as their customers.

Before we dive into a bit of history and perspective behind the acquisition, the million dollar question on everyone’s mind is “does this mean Shotgun will be assimilated into Autodesk?” In other words, what does this mean for the Shotgun that we know? Will it be buried amongst other Autodesk products on the website, a situation where even the historical discreet flagship Flame doesn’t get a mention in the Products tab? Will users have to jump through a sometimes obtuse process to license and purchase Shotgun? Will users need to sign up for The Area, where good conversations go to die? The list goes on…

In a word: no.

In fact, definitely not. The aim is to have Shotgun run as much as possible as it always has from a customer perspective. The web site, the sign-up process, and Shotgun’s support of a multitude of products across all vendors. Shotgun Software co-founder Don Parker reiterates that the aim will be to make sure it is business as usual for customers:

“The license costs stay the same, the way you eval stays the same, our support stays the same, same people driving the roadmap, and how we communicate stays the same. That all working and that all stays the same. The thing that’s going to be different is our engineering power, which our customers will benefit from greatly because we’ll be able to get them stuff faster.”

Key to this is also the fact that the Shotgun dev team will be tripling in size, and the rest of the team effectively doubling, with Don Parker still leading the group. While this is quite a bit different from other Autodesk M&E purchases in the past, there is definitely precedent for this within the broader Autodesk company. Of course, it all depends upon the follow through from Autodesk and Shotgun, but from our perspective it’s starting out from the right place. We’ll be looking at this and other issues a bit later in the article, but first a bit of history and perspective as to how and why the acquisition came about.

A bit of background

Parker co-founded Shotgun Software in 2006, with the core team joining up after working on building pipeline tools for Disney’s The Wild. In the beginning, the team decided to focus on production tracking, making sure it was done right and that people would actually use it. Only if people in the facility used the software every day would the information in it stay up to date, and therefore be of value. Once the software was being used (and was indispensable to a company), they could add more functionality and features.

Parker and the team felt that the only way to pull it off was to make sure that it made everyone’s job easier; otherwise they would simply work around it. So they really focused on this issue, working with “artists, engineers, supervisors, and production staff using the system to do real work every day, tight feedback loops for quick iteration, and an obsession for usability and design,” says Parker.

Shotgun Loader.

Shotgun Loader.

The first release of Shotgun was a mere two weeks after the team started writing code in 2006. It was a private release, but a release nonetheless. That being said, the Shotgun team spent over three and half years in private beta developing the product, working in close collaboration with studios. It was finally launched publicly at SIGGRAPH 2009.

In recent years, it is clear that the pace of development has quickened with the addition of major new features. This has been made possible due to the infusion of cash through a round of investment funding completed about two years ago. One of the most important investors in that round was none other than Autodesk. “It’s been great,” says Parker. “They helped us take a bigger leap than we could have by growing organically.” This also helped Parker get to know the team at Autodesk a bit better, creating a comfort level that helped lead to the acquisition.

Over the last several months, the team has rolled out a considerable number of new features. In April, the Client Review Site functionality went live, providing an easy way to get clips into client hands for review. Once the clip is shared, it’s available on a mobile-ready client review site, where clients can leave feedback with annotation functionality as well as comments. Since it’s all integrated within Shotgun, the feedback tracks along with the clips and is immediately reflected in the project.

In May, they introduced their new Shotgun Loader, a native browser that uses Shotgun metadata to add files to artists’ scenes from the file system. The loader is currently available for Maya, NUKE, Photoshop, and 3DS Max with Motion Builder support coming in the future, as is Houdini, HIERO, and Softimage. The loader is an item in the Shotgun menu, and it launches a browser window with multiple panes for previews, searching, filtering by type, and more. Importing into the scene is as simple as double-clicking, but a contextual menu also provides the ability to create a reference as well.

They have also recently integrated with Perforce, which is generally regarded as the games industry’s leading source control tool. In addition, being an online-based tool, Shotgun has also contracted with security firm Bishop Fox to undertake a security audit of the Shotgun application software. This kind of thing is actually incredibly expensive, but a necessary step for software that needs to meet the security requirement of the studios. The recent “Heartbleed” vulnerability is a good example as to the types of online security threats companies need to deal with.

Perforce.

Perforce.

Shotgun Software now counts over 550 clients worldwide, including DreamWorks, Framestore, Ubisoft, and Double Negative. We’d be surprised if all of these clients weren’t also Autodesk clients. It’s an impressive track record from an open, client-friendly software company. It’s hard to imagine life at many studios without Shotgun, especially with the pressures to deliver more — and deliver more quickly.

The pipeline has become a critical part of our industry, as can be seen by other entrants in the pipeline software realm, such as ftrack, which has also developed a loyal and supportive customer base, especially with small to medium sized facilities. With regards to ftrack, this move could actually help the company by attracting customers who favor smaller, independent companies. Even though Shotgun will strive to maintain its brand and service, they’re still part of a large global company. And perception is reality. So for the smaller facilities who feel Shotgun targets larger pipelines, it could be a win for ftrack.

Back to Shotgun. The reality is that the business is changing quickly all the time with new tech, new software, and new pressures that facilities have to deal with…and, by extension, Shotgun needs to deal with it. This takes time and development resources….in other words, people: highly skilled programmers to implement the code that facilities need.

We mentioned the injection of funds two years ago which helped kickstart the latest push in new code, and Parker started thinking about ways to grow the company even further. “We feel like we know exactly what our customers need from us; we just wanted to do it faster. I wanted to double the size of my engineering team,” says Parker. Even the faster pace of development wasn’t enough to keep up with the changes as well as where facilities needed Shotgun to be.

So about a year ago, Parker started to talk to people outside Shotgun about how to make this happen. This included financial investment companies or venture capitalists, but with those outfits there is far less concern about the product and way more about simply making boatloads of cash. That’s something that wasn’t attractive to Parker. So he started looking elsewhere and those places, of course, included Autodesk.

At that time, Chris Bradshaw (CMO and SVP Media & Entertainment at Autodesk), was fairly new to M&E, having taken Marc Petit’s place in Montreal. For folks inside Autodesk in Montreal, Bradshaw’s arrival was seen as an incredibly positive development within the company. Not because it was a reaction to negative feelings about Petit, but because of Bradshaw’s positive history with Autodesk. At the company in the past, he was often placed in charge of projects which were very important to the company and needed to be done right. He is also seen to have a great working relationship with CEO Carl Bass. The folks in Montreal felt they wouldn’t have invested in someone of Bradshaw’s stature if they didn’t care greatly about the Montreal M&E division.

Sharing functionality with Shotgun's Client Review Site.

Sharing functionality with Shotgun’s Client Review Site.

Even though he was relatively new at the job in Montreal, Bradshaw said that in discussions with Shotgun he “saw a ton of synergy from the beginning…I think we saw lots of opportunity.” Already, there was a good working relationship between the two companies, with Shotgun supporting their apps, including loaders for Maya, Motion Builder, 3DS Max and Softimage.

The cloud-based model of Shotgun was especially appealing to Bradshaw, as it’s the direction that Autodesk is going as well, investing heavily in cloud tech and development throughout the company. This Autodesk investment in the cloud is a key aspect of the acquisition, as it will pay direct dividends to the development of Shotgun. “The thing I’m really excited about,” says Parker, “is getting access to the massive investment that Autodesk is making on the cloud platform side of things. That’s the bigger, corporate Autodesk, that’s making those investments, and we hadn’t had visibility on that. That’s going to allow us to take advantage of investments that they’re making, so we don’t have to build everything ourselves from scratch. So, that’s I think the most exciting thing for me about going inside (Autodesk).”

Part of that access is growing the Shotgun development team, and in real numbers the acquisition means that the Shotgun dev team will triple in size. Instead of having to go out and find, recruit, interview, and recruit a whole expanded team of engineers, Shotgun effectively gets to add in a team of engineers who have already been working together as a group. As Parker says, “it’s almost like a talent acquisition. It’s like we’re both acquiring each other. They’re acquiring us, we’re kind of acquiring them and coming together.”

The additional engineers actually make up the team that has been doing R&D on cloud-based initiatives for Media and Entertainment. The group has been working together for a while; effectively it’s the same group that created Character Generator, a web-based portal for creating and downloading rigged, 3D characters. This team (based across Montreal, Toronto, and Ottawa) will join the already-geographically diverse team at Shotgun Software. Like its customers, Shotgun is very much a modern worldwide-company, with team members in cities all around the world. The engineering team itself has members located in Toronto, London, New York, Berkely, Chicago, Portland, Montreal, Madison Edinburg, Denver, and Los Angeles. And the company intends to keep things this way.

The focus on developing Shotgun is key, since this is probably the most important aspect of the acquisition. Parker looked to solve a critical problem: developing the software fast enough to keep up with the market changes as well as his customers’ demands. But don’t take our word for it. We spoke with some key Shotgun customers about about the potential benefits the Autodesk deal could bring to the industry, especially in terms of development that Shotgun itself had not been able to add to the product.

Ben Grossmann, who won a visual effects Oscar for Hugo while at Pixomondo and is now setting up a new company called Magnopus, is certainly positive about the possibilities of the acquisition. “If I was to ever criticize anything about Shotgun,” he says, “it’s that their implementation hasn’t had the financial wherewithal to support the development that we really need to move as fast as we need to. The industry moves very quickly. There are more than 400 visual effects companies at the high level cranking out amazing work on billions of dollars worth of movies – the notion that all of them can be supported by a handful of extremely talented guys at one company is just ludicrous.”

Grossmann worked on Star Trek: Into Darkness.

Grossmann worked on Star Trek: Into Darkness.

Grossmann believes that Shotgun, with anticipated increased resources, will be able to deliver more. “When I first heard about the Autodesk relationship, I immediately just thought now there’s all this stuff we’ve desperately wanted but had to sacrifice. So it’s kind of like being in the trenches and being shot at and then hearing over the radio ‘hey boys we just got three times as many planes and artillery and we’re flying in heavy and now we’re going to do all those things that would have taken years or months before.’”

This is something that Zoic’s head of pipeline Mike Romey agrees with. Zoic has for several years tightly integrated Shotgun into its own pipeline with several proprietary add-ons but that has left them, in some ways, waiting for updates. “We were always on the perimeter of what they were doing,” explains Romey, “so we ended up doing things that were leapfrogs ahead of them – timecards, reporting, charting. After a while we were on an island where what we were not getting was the features we need. A lot of the time we were rolling our own functionality to do x – and then a year later Shotgun would roll it out. So we’re hoping we have to do less of that.”

Breakdown of a shot from Falling Skies, a show Zoic contributes vfx to.

Breakdown of a shot from Falling Skies, a show Zoic contributes vfx to.

“The bigger they’re able to get to handle the broader scope of all of these different pipelines,” adds Romey, “the more value it adds to us so we can get all our meat hooks on and we can add really meaty processes unique to our work. It allows us to do more as a facility, and quicker. We end up being more agile because we’re not writing a tool to manage notes or manage crew planning.”

DreamWorks Animation has been using Shotgun only more recently and currently mainly for production management rather than complete integration into its pipeline, which runs to multiple departments and multiple shows. For the studio, then, the acquisition looks set to help with more wide-spread adoption inside DreamWorks.

“This step that Autodesk and Shotgun have taken,” says DreamWorks Animation CTO Lincoln Wallen, “really establishes Shotgun as a very viable solution in this workflow area. This is the hardest place to sell technology into organizations, regardless of the organization. It takes a long time, deep understanding and commitment to the long haul to make a successful product. With the backing of Autodesk it’s going to serve the whole industry for the better.”


Questions & concerns

With that bit of background out of the way, let’s look at some areas of possible concern for Shotgun users that this acquisition brings up, as well as some questions about the path moving forward.

Everything is going to change

Well, it could. But that certainly doesn’t appear to be the plan. In fact, the plan is quite the opposite. The Shotgun brand remains, as does the website, support site and forums. Parker is coming to Autodesk with his team and will continue to lead the group. “We’ll be a part of Autodesk,” says Parker, “but we’ll be independent as a brand, as a unit, as a team, with the same vision/charter that we’ve always had.”

“We want to be as minimally disruptive to both existing and new customers in terms of the expectations, service and relationship that they’ve had,” says Bradshaw. “We want that to continue; we want to preserve that.” That’s not to say there won’t be any changes. The engineering team is going to expand greatly, so there will be many things that will need to be dealt with regarding that. There’s absolutely no way they can continue to do all the things they’ve done internally with a team that’s three times the size.

All Shotgun employees become Autodesk employees, so there’s that as well. But Autodesk isn’t planning to change the brand, or the name, or the identity, or the relationship people have with Shotgun. “Our hope is to make that be as seamless as possible for existing customers,” says Bradshaw, “and at the same time get all the benefits we can from accelerating development and expanding the reach that Autodesk brings.” Parker echoes Bradshaw, explaining that they have been brainstorming a lot how to best take advantage of the resources to develop more quickly and bring new tools and functionality to their customers.

Parker continues to lead the team as always, but one interesting aspect of the acquisition is that he’s not locked in to Autodesk for a specific period of time. He’s a key player in the company, and to not have him under contract is unusual for cases like this. But Parker says he’s all in. “One key thing to keep in mind is that I wasn’t out there trying to sell the company,” he says. “I was out there looking to grow my team so we can continue to build out this vision we have for the industry. We’re really passionate about it; our clients are our friends. We feel like we know what they need to help them take the next step in their business, and we won’t stop until we’ve finished.”

Autodesk M&E & past acquisitions

It would be an understatement to say that Autodesk M&E hasn’t had the best track record of continuing to develop products they have acquired from other companies. discreet acquired Denim Software and their Illuminare Paint and Composite. These products were renamed paint* and effect* and then eventually merged to become Combustion. Combustion 2008 was the last version of software that shipped from Autodesk. In 2008, Autodesk acquired REALVIZ. Stitcher and Image Modeler were sold separately, yet hardly touched from a dev standpoint after the acquisition of REALVIZ. MatchMover has been bundled with 3ds Max and Maya. Combustion, acquired from Denim Software as Illuminare Paint and Composite, was killed after the 2008 version. And, of course, the recent EOL announcement of Softimage made big news this year, after being acquired from Avid in 2008. Add other acquired products like Media Cleaner and Edit and…well…not the best history.

So will we see the same thing with Shotgun?

Ben Grossmann has certainly contemplated this issue. “We all know what happens, he says. “We’re in the VFX industry and we’ve all experienced take-overs and buy-outs of various tools that have subsequently ended up on a shelf going nowhere. I’d be foolish to think there weren’t moments of hesitation where I thought couldn’t the same thing happen with Shotgun.”

But Grossmann remains confident that Shotgun’s founders have enough experience and the vision to continue their good work – and actually speed up development. “If the road map those guys have been on continues,” he says, “they’re going to bring things that I didn’t expect to see until 2018, into the end of 2015 or 2016.”

On top of the strong team at Shotgun, there seems to a fairly big shift in attitude at Autodesk regarding acquisitions. “We’ve had swings and misses frankly with acquisitions in the past,” says Bradshaw, “either where we didn’t understand well enough how to integrate it and/or we failed in our ability to do it.” More recently, say in the last 3 or 4 years according to Bradshaw, they’ve stepped back to look at where they’ve been successful and where they haven’t.

Several examples quite similar to the Shotgun acquisition are Autodesk’s purchase of HSMWorks in late 2012 or Instructables.com in 2010. If you visit these sites today, from an end-user perspective they are very much the same as what they were before the acquisition, with the small Autodesk branding at the bottom of the page the only clue that it is an Autodesk company.

Bradshaw feels the two examples reflect the future for Shotgun. For Instructables.com, “we’ve done nothing but grow it, but we haven’t taken it over,” says Bradshaw. “You don’t see a lot of Autodesk products; you don’t see a lot of Autodesk branding everywhere.” In the past, the Autodesk philosophy was different. “Three to five years ago we had this, ‘oh, if we build it they will come’ [philosophy]. Drive all traffic to autodesk.com; drive all traffic to AREA.com. As opposed to today, where I think we have this philosophy: Where are people already aggregating and let’s go to where they are. And let’s communicate and talk to them in a way to make sense for them as opposed to trying to turn everything into something that we think needs to look like us.”

Basically, Bradshaw seems comfortable keeping something that works, working well. “I think what we will strive to do differently today than perhaps what we’ve done in the past is that we [understand] we’re acquiring an asset that has a great history; that has enthusiastic customers,” says Bradshaw. “We don’t want to do anything to destroy that. What can we provide, how can we create synergy, how can we help it go faster and what are the things that are going to matter a ton?”

As we mentioned earlier, this obviously will play out over time. But the Shotgun subscription model will provide a very quick indication as to whether they are doing things right. “In today’s market, it’s really what the customers perceive,” says Bradshaw. “It has to be an outcome driven results process. If the customers perceive that something’s changing, and it’s getting worse, that’s a disaster. In this day and age of SAAS, you’re only as good as your last renewal. People get to vote much more easily in this environment, so we just have to be smart about these things.”

One final difference about this acquisition compared to some of the past M&E ones is the familiarity that both parties have with each other. Since the investment several years ago, there has been time for each to get to know the other one better. Bradshaw relates that “it’s not like we just discovered these guys, did our due diligence for two weeks and then decided to make the acquisition. We’ve been working side by side for a long time. That’s something that we look for more and more before we do acquisitions – for both parties, because frankly sometimes it doesn’t work because the cultural fit doesn’t work for people. You acquire something and then everybody quits because they can’t stand the culture, that doesn’t work.”

In the end, much of the concern with Autodesk’s track record also has to do with trust. The company has not handled situations with users well in the past, with rosy pictures being painted but a reality that ends up being far from that. They need to work to regain users trust, and following through on their promises with Shotgun would be a good first step.

What about Shotgun relationships with other vendors like The Foundry?

Shotgun has a close relationship with Autodesk, integrating solid support for apps such as Maya, 3DS Max, and others. But one of the most critical creative tools in the pipeline isn’t owned by Autodesk, and that’s The Foundry’s NUKE. At this point in time, Shotgun also has an incredibly close working relationship with The Foundry, and they hope it will remain that way. But they are also aware of the fact that The Foundry will have questions about the acquisition. The same holds true for Side Effects. It would be only natural for both companies to have some serious questions, seeing their largest competitor take over the pipeline tool that has become an integral part of the workflow with their tools.

“Maintaining our relationship with The Foundry is super important to us, because it’s important to our clients,” says Parker. “Our intention is to keep working like we have been. I would expect that they’ll take a wait and see approach (see if this is going to change our relationship with them). Our goal is to show them that this won’t change our relationship with them.”

Autodesk M&E Industry Manager Maurice Patel points out that it’s in the best interest for everyone to work together in an industry driven by razor-thin margins. For example, Patel says the two companies have had a good working relationship on VES’ VFX Reference Platform. As far as The Foundry is concerned, he says, “sure they will have questions around it. Our goal is to continue to collaborate and work with them. Shotgun has to be an open platform – both for The Foundry, Side Effects, in-house technology, etc. It’s aggregating data across the pipeline and managing it. That has to continue and that’s the goal.”

Reporting in Shotgun.

Reporting in Shotgun.

The reality is that Shotgun customers will also keep all of the manufacturers’ feet to the fire on interop with Shotgun. Every facility uses products from different vendors and when you have built your pipeline around a product like Shotgun, it needs to keep talking to those various software packages. So there is quite a bit of motivation on everyone’s part to make sure it works.

One company that could benefit with regards to this question is ftrack. As an independent company, they might find ways to work even more closely with The Foundry on integrating features into their production management platform. About a year ago, they announced a collaboration with The Foundry to create tight workflows between ftrack and other Foundry products, starting with HIERO. If they have tighter integration with NUKE or HIERO than Shotgun does, it could be a win for ftrack customers.

Does this mean Flame might see some pipeline integration coming?

A couple of weeks ago in LA, the inaugural Flame user group was held at Framestore in Culver City, with over 100 artists in attendance. There were some great presentations, including Flame product designer Philippe Soeiro, who took questions from the group. It was interesting how many questions centered around pipeline issues and how to integrate Flame into production effectively. For a system that debuted as an “open” one against the closed Quantel platform, it is certainly no model citizen when integrating it within a facility, with very few hooks…and very few is putting it kindly. It led one attendee at the event to later post on the Flame Logik Facebook page that “ADSK still has the problem of ignoring some basic daily needs” regarding pipeline.

While that seems to have been true in the past, the current reality is clear that Autodesk are very much interested in the pipeline. And that includes Flame. “We’ve already talked to the Flame team,” says Parker. “For them, because of the history of that technology and how it’s evolved, it’s not a no-brainer. It’s something that needs to be planned and thought through, but we’ve been working with them on that.” Having the knowledge and expertise of the Shotgun team in-house should pay dividends for all the Autodesk dev teams moving forward, including Flame. With over 500 customers worldwide, Shotgun has excellent insight as to what facilities actually need in daily production.

“What’s great about the relationship between us and the product teams is that the product teams can focus on just making those products awesome,” says Parker. “They don’t necessarily have to focus on pipeline and moving data interop back and forth. That’s our job. So we can work with the product teams and figure out what we need to get stuff in and out. And then we can work with our customers to show them a series of apps and workflows that move data back and forth between all the tools. So absolutely, we’re already collaborating with the Flame team.”

Shotgun’s openness and transparency with customers

One thing that frustrates customers about Autodesk is their inability to be as transparent about future plans as other companies in our industry. As a publicly traded company in the United States, there are securities regulations regarding revenue recognition and other concerns that the company feels don’t allow it be as open about future plans as they have in the past. That’s just one of the reasons, but the reality is that they aren’t able to be as open as they could be without all the regulations and lawyers.

By contrast, a company like The Foundry can be much more open about plans, debuting a new version of NUKE 6 to 12 months before shipping. Or revealing NUKE Studio at NAB and saying it will ship later in the year. End users, whether from the artist or management side, like this a lot.

As a private company, Shotgun is very open with their customers. They work to be transparent about the roadmap, transparent when they make mistakes, and are also quite open about the design process. Being able to see into the future and understand where the software is going is quite critical for customers, especially when you’re designing a pipeline.

Shotgun screenshot.

Shotgun screenshot.

So what does the Autodesk acquisition mean for Shotgun’s openness? The good news is that it’s not as bad as you’d think. In fact, it’s not all that bad.

“Actually what we’ve found is we’re going to be okay,” relates Parker. “We’re making a couple of small changes that should have been made anyway. We’ve been learning as a product team that we need to stick to specific dates when we’re talking about what we’re doing, because that’s where it gets complicated. Things change. But we can talk about what we’re working on. Our transparent and open relationship with our customers has lead to the trust that they have in us that’s critical to the thing that we’re building them. We’re building the core of their studio, the platform of their studio. That can’t change. So it’s still the same people, still the same style.”

As to why Shotgun can talk about the future and other teams can’t? It comes down to Shotgun being a service vs. a perpetual software license, with a whole different set of rules being applied. That being said, Autodesk is actually aiming to become much more like Shotgun than the other way around. “We’re trying to get to a place where we’re much more open and sharing,” says Bradshaw. “Even around Maya, Max and Flame we’ve been pushing harder on our internal group to give us more flexibility. We think it’s super important to have good communication, especially in this environment and in this day of social media and people feeling like they want to be connected and partnered with – not just be a vendor/supply relationship, but to be in a partnership with people who are providing them technology.”

 

Open source and Shotgun

Shotgun’s API as well as toolkit are open source and can be found on GitHub. It’s actually an incredibly useful part of the Shotgun package as tools can constantly be improved and built upon flexibly. With a large company like Autodesk, one might think this could pose a problem. But it’s not. According to Patel, Autodesk does quite a bit of open source. “On the M&E side we’re involved in a lot of open source projects (whether it’s all the Pixar initiatives, such as the universal scene description language),” he says. “We’re quite comfortable with open source.”

Looking ahead

Looking ahead, what do users think that the Autodesk acquisition could help bring in terms of future releases? DreamWorks Animation’s Lincoln Wallen says that Shotgun is currently being deployed on a film there, with some initial integration and development using the software’s API, but that he is hopeful for more development in terms of scale. “One of the things I’m looking for in this merger,” outlines Wallen, “is increased focus on the enterprise robustness of the entire toolset. Addressing questions such as replication, operational concerns that come to the fore when you’re operating at the level we’re operating it. These haven’t been at the forefront of Shotgun’s mind because they haven’t needed that.”

Zoic’s Romey has several wishlists, among them the aforementioned integration of Flame bays into a Shotgun pipeline, and perhaps even a mobile ‘on set’ Shotgun. He also hopes that a bigger team at Shotgun could enable further development on virtual production workflow, something Zoic has pioneered with its ZEUS system on shows such as Once Upon A Time.

Another area Zoic sees for further Shotgun work is in iOS app and game development. “We’re building our own casual game and we’ve built a backend that uses Shotgun to deploy assets,” says Romey. “It’s a non-traditional usage case for Shotgun but it’s a database. It’s a fairly accessible API and we can use that within the facility to broaden the scope of the type of projects we do and innovate with Shotgun.”

Then of course is the opportunity for Shotgun to be closely integrated into Autodesk’s own ‘industry standard’ visual effects and CG tools, a point made by Ben Grossmann. “We’re broadening the capabilities of Shotgun but also the capabilities of the tools that Autodesk creates – a significant majority of the tools we’re using in VFX come from Autodesk. If we’re killing two birds with one stone here, it’s hard to see a way we’re going to lose.”

In the end, this acquisition will be judged by how closely the parties remain to their word at this point in time. If they do, people will be happy. If not, they won’t. Autodesk and Shotgun simply need to deliver what they’re promising in order to keep their customers happy. Obviously, it’s not *that* simple, but Chris Bradshaw summed it up best. “It’s all down to execution,” he says. “We certainly recognize that we can talk a lot of yakety yak, but if we don’t follow through with living up to those words, it going to be all for naught.”


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8 Responses to Autodesk riding Shotgun

  1. Honestly, I am so sorry for Shotgun.
    As a shotgun user, I think it is the worst news Shotgun could have ever had since it’s birth. Autodesk’s dark hand means it’s going to favour its spurious interests and leave it to be forgotten by the shadows of time.

    In the beginning everything will be fine, bigger team, large resources, stability the promise of a future bla bla bla, blablabla. Not good.

    Remember what happen when Autodesk acquired Softimage?. Everything was good news, large opportunities to become part of a bigger entity, protection, resource development and all that. Then, this year they killed it. They would not put their own money on Shotgun if they knew they wouldn’t be able to kill it if it goes against its interests. Let time go by and we’ll see.

    I am very sorry that they bought you to disembowel you like they did with Softimage.

    I do not believe a single word about what Autodesk had said.

    RIP. Shotgun.

    Posted by Jose Barrunta on
    • Totally. Just like they did with Maya. And Motionbuilder. And Mudbox.
      All those and more are programs they bought that competed with their interests (3DS Max).
      Yet somehow they all seem to have grown features, support and market share since they were purchased.

      I’m sorry you lost your Softimage, man. And there’s plenty of reason to keep a close eye on this situation, but it’s not the same situation at all. Autodesk ended up with THREE programs that basically did the same thing, each with strengths and weaknesses.
      Here they have NO competing product for Shotgun.

      Before you write up an obituary, consider giving the guys a chance to deliver on their commitments.

      Ben

      Posted by Ben Grossmann on
      • Well, Autodesk doesn´t deserve one single chance more on it´s monopoly procedures. True, they have no competing product for Shotgun…yet. Let´s see how much time they need to buy fTrack, I am so willing to let time go by.

        Regarding Softimage thanks for the support. As far as Autodesk ended up with three programs that basically did the same, sorry I disgree, you could ask any Softimage user. There were 2 and 1/2 products. No way 3dsMax was near as close as the remaining two, I am sorry 3dsMax users but you know it is quite true. And forget about the licenses 3dsMax sells, that doesn´t mean at all that it is a good software. It only means it sells a lot of licenses, not neccessarily because it´s good. 3dsMax copies after Softiamge developped it first. And we know it is true.

        So only left with two: Maya and Softimage. Go to film: Maya. Go to commercials: Softimage. Don´t forget Maya is a shell, easily programmable. Softimage is as robust off the shelf software. Which is best there, I don´t know. Both have their own production proven purposes. Let people choose but no…they had to kill it.

        Should have wrote the obituray for Softimage in 2008.

        Sorry, is just not a reliable company. Not trustworthy at all. No client driven at all. And then they ask for loyalty….cinicisism and hypocritical.

        Posted by Jose Barrunta on
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  6. Very bad news indeed :(((((

    Posted by michal on

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