Autodesk M&E goes with the ‘Flow’

Continues to focus on the cloud and open source.

Autodesk’s Flow, an industrial cloud Autodesk is developing for M&E. (Source: Autodesk)

Some may look at the annual Autodesk University as a conference for AEC, architecture, and manufacturing. And it is. But, there’s also a focus on the company’s “other” business: media and entertainment. Here, Autodesk announced Flow, a new industry cloud for M&E that will connect user workflows, data, and teams across the entire production life cycle, from early concept to final delivery. Flow, which represents the company’s all-in push to the cloud, joins two other industry clouds also announced at the conference: Forma for AEC and Fusion for D&M.

Flow is a new M&E industry cloud offering being developed to connect workflows and data across production pipelines and allow collaboration over one central asset management system. Needless to say, with so many people working in production on many shots using many assets, and from various locations and time zones, collaboration can be challenging. Autodesk Flow is aimed to help creators and facilities overcome those challenges. The company is working to create centralized asset management systems where all the information from a project resides and can be shared throughout the project lifecycle.

Autodesk is also using the cloud to connect upstream production workflows with solutions like Moxion, a cloud-based platform for digital dailies. In a siloed environment, teams have to manually move data on and off disconnected systems, which is time-consuming and makes it prone to errors. Moxion, however, takes raw footage from the set into the tool for review immediately after capture.

Amazon Studios, the production segment of Prime Video, is moving many aspects of production and post to the cloud. At Autodesk University, Eric Iverson, director of product strategy at Amazon Studios, discussed how they are using Moxion and project management software ShotGrid (formerly known as Shotgun) to link its pipeline via the cloud, achieving nearly real-time on-set-to-post workflows. “We see the power of these solutions at work in Prime Video’s epic narratives. Properly maintaining assets of a huge slate is pivotal to bringing new content to life, and in today’s work environment, business as usual isn’t an option,” he said.

Iverson pointed out that with virtual production, all phases of production are occurring at the same time, further increasing the complexity of producing a show. As such, tools and workflow tools need to evolve. He believes ShotGrid for real-time review and Moxion for creative reviews are helping to streamline production handoff to post. “We are committed to being a next-generation studio, but we cannot do it alone and need to work with companies like Autodesk and creators to accomplish this,” he added.

In addition to updating showgoers on its current cloud strategy, Autodesk also highlighted its open-standards push and discussed its recently released Maya Creative, with its pay-as-you-go cost structure.

For a while now, Autodesk has been active in supporting open standards, striving along with other vendors for a more fluid workflow through interoperability of data and pipelines. This includes open-sourcing RV and offering Bifrost for Maya USD. With RV, artists can view high-res images in real time and compare various versions while collaborating with others. Autodesk says it is providing their code contributions, alongside others including Sony and DNeg for the open-source cause, as the Open Review Initiative within the Academy Software Foundation is driving a unified, open toolset for playback, review, and approvals. Meanwhile, with Bifrost for Maya USD integration, users can author assets for USD using the Bifrost graph.

The company is further supporting other open standards such as MaterialX, OpenColorIO, glTF, OpenTimelineIO, and others in an effort to transform the industry into more open and collaborative environments.

Lastly, Autodesk highlighted the recently released Maya Creative, which gives users most of the tools found in Maya (all of the industry-standard creative tools) with their new Flex payment plan. Ideal for those who only use Maya on a limited basis, this option makes it fiscally doable for those wanting to use Maya on occasion, including studios ramping up by adding artists during deadlines. It also lowers the barrier to entry for users, especially those working independently or in small studios, and in the process, expands the number of new Maya users.

Autodesk University 2022 is being held September 27–29 in New Orleans.