It started around Siggraph from what we understand. We’d like to be more specific but after agreeing to discuss the purchase on the record and after agreeing to a series of questions on the deal, Autodesk withdrew and pointed us to a press release being posted Monday morning before the stock market opened in New York.
Autodesk effectively bought the heart and soul of Exotic Matter (EM) but not the company. By purchasing the rights to the technology, the product called Naiad is immediately dead. It will not be developed or supported past the current version.
The statement from Autodesk reads:
In an effort to accelerate Autodesk’s research and development of simulation technologies for visual effects, Autodesk has acquired the Naiad fluid simulation technology from Exotic Matter.
Exotic Matter’s founder and CEO, Marcus Nordenstam and Chief Scientist, Robert Bridson have joined Autodesk. Robert Bridson also will continue as a professor of Scientific Computing/Computer Graphics at the University of British Columbia.
Autodesk will not continue to market and sell Naiad as a standalone product but it is anticipated that certain Naiad technology may find its way into future Autodesk offerings. As of this time, there are no new product or offering announcements pertaining to the Autodesk software portfolio.
It’s expected that Exotic Matter will contact its existing Naiad customers and provide information on how support will be handled. These customers can also still contact Exotic Matter through existing channels.
Marcus Nordenstam and Robert Bridson formed Exotic Matter in 2008. Exotic Matter were the makers of Naiad fluid sim software, which has been featured in some of the most impressive liquid effects to date, including films such as Avatar, Narnia: Voyage of the Dawntreader, X-Men First Class, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and many others which we have featured here at fxguide.com See our story on the tech behind Naiad
So what happened? Well, last week Nordenstam and Bridson became employees of Autodesk and the key customers of Naiad were informed of the move. fxguide found out last week, as did others over the weekend as news leaked from those key customers onto lists and blogs.
Allegedly, according to our sources, the move was not a reaction to a hostile patent war, nor a move to kill off the product per se. It was simply that the founders of EM – the key brains trust – were made an offer they could not refuse. Autodesk no doubt sees the need for its 3D product line to incorporate large scale simulation workflows and Naiad is a great option for the large Autodesk ‘family’.
But there was no horse’s head threat. The team, we understand, has just been given the keys to the vast resources that Autodesk can throw at a problem. From what we have learned, the team will not re-write Naiad inside Maya. Instead, they will spearhead a much larger operation with vastly more resources and with great backing.
It is also the case, we understand, that the principals did not get massively rich off the deal. This was not a case of the team selling out, and now counting the hours until they can cash in their stock options and leave, as some have been saying. Of course, only time will tell how Autodesk productizes the great value of this team. For now they are not talking, and in our humble opinion once again doing themselves no favors as the blogosphere rips into another round of Autodesk bashing and name calling.
One thing is for sure. The Naiad technology is very good, central to many cutting edge effects sequences in major features films with work from Framestore to Weta. This move strengthens greatly both Scanline’s premium custom fluid sims pipeline position and should give a boost to Realflow, which is now much more an island of outstanding fluid simulation, (especially after the last release). Fluid sims are hard, and even the data manipulation of those vast sims, the polygonization – especially of thin sheets of water – and GPU processing make solving the the Navier-Stokes equations all good core technologies for any high-end company like Autodesk.