Audiences around the world are beginning to expect 3D digital entertainment as a normal standard, according to Maya and 3DS Max developer Autodesk, which also sells a lot of post-production kit for stereoscopic workflows.

Speaking during the Malaysian launch of new versions of Autodesk software, Autodesk Malaysia country manager Tan Choong Sang (CS Tan) said: "Stereoscopic 3D is redefining entertainment content, as exemplified by the success of 'Avatar'."

"Research firm DisplaySearch's 3D Display technology and Market Forecast Report, Jan 2010, 3D display revenue is expected to increase 38 per cent CAGR [compound annual growth rate] by 2018. In addition, 7,000 new 3D-capable cinemas will be built in 2010," said Tan.

"Going to the movies is still the cheapest way to escape the realities of modern living," he said. "According to the US-based Motion Picture Association (MPA), the global film box office revenue continued to grow during the downturn, recording US$29.9 billion in 2009, which amounts to a 7.6 per cent growth."

"And the industry is still growing," he said. "The TV broadcast market is growing and expected to reach US$326.2 billion this year, through HD (high definition) movie," said Tan. "In addition, the fastest growing market in entertainment is the games sector, which recorded US$48.9 billion in 2009, with Asia's revenue share amounting to US$18.8 billion."

Autodesk's new launch of the enhanced Digital Entertainment Creation [DEC] solutions includes Autodesk Maya 2011, 3ds Max 2011, Autodesk Softimage 2011, Autodesk Mudbox 2011, Autodesk Motionbuilder 2011, Autodesk FBX 2011, Autodesk Entertainment Creation Suites 2011, and the latest game development middleware, Autodesk HumanIK 4.5, and Autodesk Kynapse.

Production outsourcing in Asia

Tan said the health of the digital entertainment production outsourcing market in the region could be demonstrated by the fact that 90 per cent of US TV productions are now made in Asia.

"The creative industry in Malaysia is considered a significant opportunity by the Malaysian government, which made available a creative industry fund of US$61.5 million [RM200 million] in the last budget," he said.

"Government ICT agency Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) is now working with Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) to develop talent as well as new production," said Tan.

Modernising the creative pipeline

"Creative company staff face challenges of how to produce more compelling content in less time, and more cheaply than before," said Autodesk application engineer, ASEAN, Matt Dewes, during a demonstration of new features of the DEC suite.

"Content is key, and the collaborative aspects of our DEC software have been enhanced," said Dewes. "The suite helps to produce a more innovative, immersive entertainment experience with a more cohesive production pipeline."

He said the new versions took advantage of the latest advances in hardware and software such as Windows 7 and Mac OS (operating system).

"There are new artist-friendly features such as the 3D Editorial function in Maya 2011, which allows non-linear working of shots," said Dewes.

"A recent addition to the DEC family is Softimage, which simplifies and automates creation of faces and character-images through a face robot function," he said. "A lip-synch tool has been added to Softimage 2011."

"The DEC suite helps to cut out what used to take days of production into a few minutes," he said. "Production companies can work without worrying about technicalities."