• The company is on a roll, according to Lypaczewski, with success in the film arena – particularly as all nominated films for the Academy Award for Achievement in Visual Effects used Discreet systems products. On the game-development side of things, Discreet continues to dominate the marketplace with credits on titles such as Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell (Ubisoft) and Warcraft III (Blizzard Entertainment). With the momentum that Discreet is on, there is a hope that the economy will be in better shape this year, blowing some wind into the company’s sails.

    Leonard Teo: Discreet recently acquired some of the late 5D’s Cyborg and Commander (visual effects systems) technologies. Can you tell us more about Discreet’s decision to buy over the assets and how the various technologies will be used?

    Paul Lypaczewski: The acquisition of the 5D assets is one of those opportunistic things. Clearly, we were competing with 5D on the market, but due to unfortunate circumstances, they found themselves going out of business. The assets of the company went up for liquidation and we recognized that there was some very interesting intellectual property. We enjoyed the benefits of being able to buy those assets and we’re looking at bringing them forward to see how we can use them for future developments. It’s still early days with regards to what we’ll be doing with the technology.

    From what we can see, there’s some very interesting and useful technology. We’re now digging in and seeing where the potential benefits may be. It was one of those cases where the assets were available; we looked at it, put a bid on it and were fortunate enough to win. There are some features in the 5D assets that are of particular interest to us, but it will have to unfold over time.

    Leonard Teo: Regarding inferno 5, flame 8, and flint 8 – why could this be the most significant release in the history of the product?

    Paul Lypaczewski: I’ll be honest, it’s a magic release and people are extremely excited about it. The productivity you get is a significant shift in the workflow. You no longer need to sweat the details on the format of source data -- it’s a huge increase in productivity. There is also the multi-resolution capabilities and the ability to work with proxies, particularly when you look at how many customers are starting to work with very high resolutions. 2K is fast becoming the norm and we have some customers going as high as 4K as they see that as the future for their workflow. The ability to work effectively with proxies and then bring in the high-resolution elements, as you require, gives our users unprecedented productivity gains. This release focuses on the workflow and productivity gains for our users.

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  • Leonard Teo: The recent combustion price drop – why the price drop and what sort of effect would it have on the desktop compositing market?

    Paul Lypaczewski: It’s explicit recognition of the fact that the creation of video of the desktop is more and more becoming a horizontal application. There’s a wonderful opportunity there. This is making our technology and solutions available to a much broader range of people, whether it’s our defacto encoding solution with our cleaner products (cleaner 6 for Mac) or the compositing and effects market sector with combustion 2.1. The desktop is a huge opportunity for the industry at large and we’re continuing to grow on our success. The beauty is that we have the long-standing understanding of the science, technology, creative aspects and workflow of the whole effects and compositing segment to be able to bring that at a very attractive price point. With combustion 2.1, it’s a wonderful opportunity and it’s really taken off.

    Leonard Teo: Regarding the price-cutting wars of last year, how has Discreet coped?

    Paul Lypaczewski: Whenever someone in the marketplace drops their price by 70%, it generates a certain amount of turmoil. The fact of the matter is, we defined the price point in that space. 3ds max has been the leader for over a decade. We continue to be the leader whether it is from a revenue standpoint or a unit standpoint. With 170,000 registered users of 3ds max, we know the broad 3D market. 3ds max adds value and is priced at a point that our customers have always seen the value, so in all honesty there hasn’t really been an effect. Even though others are dropping their prices, we’re still doing well in that market and are very comfortable.

    Leonard Teo: What is your opinion of the current state of the effects industry and where is Discreet?

    Paul Lypaczewski: We’ve always been the leader in the game development industry and will continue to do so. With the design/visualization segment, there’s a lot of synergy between Discreet and its sister-divisions at Autodesk. When you look at Autodesk VIZ there are over 70,000 registered users, giving us quite a formidable share in that arena.

    In the film and video market, 3ds max is ready for prime time. One of our greatest challenges is that a lot of people have notions of what 3ds max was when they last used it in its early versions. When you look at 3ds max 5 coupled with character studio 4, it has a pipeline where it can deliver the entire process in terms of what you require for a valid film and video workflow.

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    There are other excellent products out there, but when you look at the productivity and performance, you can start the job with max and you can finish the job with max. A lot of people are realizing that, and as a result max is attaining a number of credible film credits.

    Leonard Teo: What are Discreet’s aspirations for 2003?

    Paul Lypaczewski: In simple terms, let’s hope the economy get’s better! The whole industry has been through very tough times over the last 18 months. These are the times that test which companies have staying power and why we are where we are right now.

    As a division, we’re in great shape and waiting for the economy to blow some wind in our sails. When you look at various aspects of our business, we’re building momentum and therefore expecting to have a very good NAB with our high-end systems products and the 3D Festival with our 3D products.

    The growth that we anticipate will happen in the games industry, particularly as people will begin to gear up for the next generation of platforms (the Sony Playstation 3 is not too far out). There is also resurgence in the design/visualization segment of the market, and we have that covered with Autodesk VIZ.

    At the desktop level with cleaner and combustion, media-rich websites are coming back with streaming video and content-on-demand gaining popularity again. Certainly the whole process of encoding had fallen into the background while the web industry was going through turmoil. That whole sector is more than just streaming media to the web, but is the actual encoding and finishing for the Web. When you look at cleaner 6 for Mac, it’s very clear that if you want to encode your content for whatever format, there’s none better.

    In all honesty, the product portfolio is in the best shape it’s ever been in and we’re feeling rather bullish.

    Leonard Teo: What do we expect to see at 3D Festival?

    Paul Lypaczewski: The team hasn’t been resting on their laurels. Given the momentum that we’ve been on, there’s a lot of innovation that we’ll be bringing to the market over the course of the year and we expect to have some exciting releases at 3D Festival in May. [3df]

    Discreet website
    Digital Dimension

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