Autodesk Signs Exclusive Deal for Disney’s XGen Technology

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Tue, 08/30/2011 - 20:00 -- Nick Dager

Autodesk has obtained a license from Walt Disney Pictures with a five-year exclusivity period for the XGen Arbitrary Primitive Generator technology which was used most recently by Walt Disney Animation Studios in the hit animated film Tangled. 

XGen technology was first presented by WDAS in a research paper at SIGGRAPH in 2003 for the creation of computer-generated fur feathers and foliage. Since that time XGen has evolved and been refined on seven features three shorts and one TV show. It has been used to create the fur hair feathers trees leaves and rocks in Bolt the trees and bushes in Up the dust bunnies debris trees bushes clover and flowers in Toy Story 3 and the grass and trees in Cars 2. In Tangled WDAS used XGen to bring the lavish 3D animated world to life: from Rapunzel’s perfectly groomed golden locks to the film’s lush vegetation-filled landscapes including bushes flowers vines grass weeds moss thistle ground mulch fallen leaves sticks rocks butterfly fur airborne dust leaves and trees plus props such as roof tiles arrow fletchings a broom and paint brushes. Senior development software engineer at WDAS Tom Thompson was an initial creator and remains the chief architect of the software. Walt Disney Pictures‚ agreement with Autodesk will enable Autodesk to make this technology available to artists to create digital entertainment. “Twenty years ago visual effects artists creating computer graphics were mostly mathematicians and scientists using highly technical and complex software tools that required significant amounts of custom programming ” says chief technology officer Andy Hendrickson Walt Disney Animation Studios. “Back then off-the-shelf software could not create the required details of nuance and emotion. Today we were able to create XGen as an effective artistic tool because Autodesk provides studios like ours with comprehensive tools and a flexible extensible platform to develop on. The Autodesk customizable toolset helps visual effects artists do their best work.” A key challenge in the visual effects industry continues to be the need to constantly evolve creatively while somehow controlling rapidly escalating production costs says Autodesk’s Marc Petit. “To help customers better address this challenge Autodesk has been working with industry leaders like Walt Disney Animation Studios to help them innovate faster and to make these new technologies more broadly accessible. Digital Entertainment Creation users are sure to benefit from developments designed by industry visionaries and proven in production.”

 Walt Disney Animation Studios director of studio technology Dan Candela says “A primary focus for my team is to ensure that the production pipeline is streamlined in order to efficiently produce the best possible CG animation. With Autodesk’s Maya as a core piece of our toolset we've developed over 100 plug-ins and extensions for the platform to enable our artists to create a movie of the quality of Tangled within necessary time and budgetary limits. Sharing our technology with the VFX and CG animation community raises the creative bar for the entire industry.” Autodesk www.autodesk.com