As anyone who saw their 2014 Unfold event will know, Autodesk have a brand new logo, some interesting new product developments and a new Head of M&E, Chris Bradshaw. Their message for this year’s NAB? It’s all change in the industry, but we should be seeing that as an opportunity.
At the high end of post and 3D, studios are consolidating, there’s been a huge growth in professional video and a distributed, increasingly global production process is on the rise. Who’s best to help you weather all of this? Autodesk.
Flame users: you’re in safe hands
One of the key things to come out of Autodesk’s briefing was that they’re not abandoning high end users or advanced systems, despite what the recent reconfiguration of Smoke might suggest. Flame is going to continue to be updated and supported, and a new service pack is to be expected in late May or early June. The main focus of this will performance optimisation, so you’ll no longer have to wait for anything to load, but there’ll also be improvements to the Media Hub (headline: 4 seconds of progressive clip display for up to 600 clips) and new additions to Autodesk’s much lauded tracker. New creative tools are also being worked on in the lab, and these will be released slowly in service packs throughout the coming year, rather than in a single, disruptive annual upgrade.
Smoke 2013 and beyond
Also in line for the incremental upgrade plan is Smoke, which Autodesk believe is the key to keep us all efficient and competitive in a changing industry. They reckon that using Smoke is 35% faster than using separate editing, VFX and finishing apps – even if they’re as linked up as the Adobe Creative Suites – and seem set on releasing further updates to demystify the workflow and make it more familiar to editors, all without compromising on the power that their high end customers need (real time performance for every task imaginable is their current goal.)
Autodesk and NVIDIA introduce Grid GPUs
Autodesk have partnered with NVIDIA to harness the power of NVIDIA GRID to deliver applications. Currently the GRID lets you game over the cloud, leveraging your Tesla, Quadro and GeForce cards with an H.264 encoder in order to provide video on demand-style gaming servers. This is combined with Grid-based VFX software and Grid visual computing appliances (VCAs) – a 4U server with 8 or 16 GPUs per user, which feed keyboard and mouse clicks to your Grid gaming server and send the appropriate graphics back to the end user. Autodesk are planning to use the NVIDIA GRID cloud to deliver any combination of GPUs to their users as and when they’re needed, so its easier to add extra power when you’re busy and drop machines when you’re between jobs. A nice cost-saving side effect being that you can have small, cheap client devices in your studio with no GPU of their own, and keep all your power in the cloud. It also means your artists can work in PC only programs – 3ds Max, for example – and Mac or Linux-only ones – Autodesk Smoke – at the same time.
The Autodesk GRID will be available with up to 16 GPUs, supporting 32 threads and boasting 348GB system memory and, while the servers and their management are based on Windows 7, a single system can offer GPUs to Mac, Linus and Windows machines. It should be available in May and additional features seem set to include shared storage and the ability to queue up users for your GPUs based on workload.