Will the meeting of Maya and 3DS Max be good for 3D?

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There are several truths about the 3D animation and modelling world – some are laugh-out-loud; some serious. One of them is that many 3D designers appear to have never actually met a woman who wasn’t pixelated, or carrying a large array of weapons. 
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Guys (and it’s usually guys), when modelling 3D females, you aren’t starring in your own movie version of Weird Science. Women simply aren’t that, well, large when it comes to breasts, or that thin when it comes to waists – at least, not at the same time. 
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And, don’t you think the ammo belts might chaff, especially if all they’re wearing are virtual nipple tassles?
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The other truism is that 3D software companies rarely make money: seeming to surface, dazzle, and then fade with all the characteristics of cheap fireworks. 
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And the ones that have stuck around have had to enter into the type of price war that would make supermarkets think twice. It’s an aggressive, cut-throat, but ultimately incredibly sexy industry – crap 3D models of women aside.
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Yet the stunning, hell-has-frozen over news that Alias is to be snapped up by industry rival Autodesk flies in the face of anything that has gone before. The acquisition – if it goes ahead – will create a 3D company that owns 70 per cent of the market, and reduce the Big Four (along with Softimage and NewTek) down to the Big Three.
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Now, it’s easy to be cynical when mathematics are involved, but the cheapo freebie solar calculator I picked up on a recent Press jaunt has been begging to be used. A couple of presses on the vomit-green buttons later, and something interesting emerges.
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About and year-and-a-half ago, Alias was wrenched from its SGI parent by Accel-KKR, a private-equity firm that specializes in technology companies. It paid a then quietly impressive $57.7 million in cash for Alias, along with its Maya and StudioTools line. 
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Fast-forward to today, and Autodesk are picking up Alias for a rather larger $182 million. In cash. Someone, somewhere, has made a killing, and it wasn’t SGI and it might not be Autodesk, despite its deep pockets. That’s a profit of $124.3 million in 18 months! Rejoice! 3D software companies can make money (or at least their backers)!
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Of course, the real reason that Alias accepted was the proposed synergy that the move offers customers, and nothing at all to do with money. Which reminds me – in a completely unrelated way – of the comment TV host Mrs Merton asked of Debbie McGee, about “why she married millionaire magician Paul Daniels”.
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Money and 3D is sometimes like 3D modellers and women. It can seem unreal, unnatural, and frankly a little uncomfortable. That said, at least Alias has ended up in the hands of a company that – while large – seems passionate about 3D, and wants to move into the entertainment 3D space. 
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And, with an R&D budget of $300m, Autodesk Maya users may actually reap the benefit. Just go on a few dates first, OK, and realize that women and guns aren’t an everyday event. You only need to look at the work of Meats Meier (above) to see what’s possible.
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