3D Animation Workshop: Lesson 84: More on MetaStream | WebReference

3D Animation Workshop: Lesson 84: More on MetaStream

Lesson 84 - More on MetaStream - Part 1

In our previous column, we considered the MetaStream technology for delivering high-resolution 3D models of products for viewing over the Internet and, as promised, will continue with this important subject here.

Readers may remember that I opened the previous column with the news that MetaCreations was selling its entire product line in order to focus entirely on 3D Web technology. In retrospect, I feel a little guilty about the way I handled this issue. There's no question that the company's actions confirm the importance of the current move to 3D on the Internet—certainly a good thing in every way. On the other hand, I must acknowledge that the decision to dump a large product line with an army of loyal followers is a questionable one. Business is business, of course, but there are legions of people who have invested time, money and creative energy into Painter, Bryce, and all the other MetaCreations products, and they have cause to feel betrayed. When a software company simply announces its intention to dispose of a product line, with promises to look for a "suitable" buyer, the existing user base has good reason to worry. This is precisely what happened to Cosmo Software when Silicon Graphics Inc. decided to dump it. There were no serious takers and this important software line ended up in a black hole. People who paid $600 for Cosmo Worlds found themselves abandoned, using an application for which there would be no further support, upgrades, or continuing development.

If there is a message here, it is that computer graphics software industry, and particularly the 3D segment, is in a fluid and precarious state, and is likely to remain so for some time. Softimage and Lightwave, two of the most important 3D packages and absolute mainstays of the computer graphics industry, are almost open questions at this moment due to the extremely delayed arrival of upgraded versions. The best argument for using or buying 3D Studio MAX right now is simply that its manufacturer, Autodesk, is huge company with deep pockets that can take the time to build MAX into an absolute standard—the Photoshop of 3D. But Autodesk has significant financial problems and failed to participate in the tech stock boom of the past couple of years. There is no guarantee that Autodesk will continue to see the development of MAX as strategic to its larger interests. Alias Wavefront's Maya is an outstanding and respected package—but the programming costs of its rapid and continuous development must be staggering. Who knows what the future will bring?

In short, behind a blustery veneer, all of the 3D packages are commercially vulnerable. The situation reminds me very much of the earliest days of the manufactured automobile. The technology was new and the market unstable. By the time that major brands were rather permanently established, a lot of seemingly important early players had disappeared in the tide.

But back to MetaStream.

To Continue to Parts 2 and 3, Use Arrow Buttons

Created: Jan. 18, 2000
Revised: Jan. 18, 2000

URL: http://webreference.com/3d/lesson84/