Autodesk Media and Entertainment

Autodesk Media and Entertainment is a division of Autodesk which offers animation and visual effects products, and was formed by the combination of multiple acquisitions. In 2018, the company began operating as a single operating segment and reporting unit.[1]

Autodesk Media and Entertainment
TypeSubsidiary of Autodesk, Inc.
IndustryComputer software
FoundedMontreal, Quebec (1991 as Discreet Logic)
San Francisco, California (1996 as Autodesk Kinetix)
2005 as Autodesk Media and Entertainment
HeadquartersNew York City, New York, United States
ProductsMaya, Maya LT, FBX,
3ds Max, Mudbox, Flame,
Lustre, Smoke, Beast,
Shotgun, Scaleform, HumanIK, Navigation,
Arnold, MotionBuilder,
Stingray game engine (discontinued)
Media & Entertainment Collection,
Wwise (under license from Audiokinetic).


Discreet LogicEdit

Montreal-based Discreet Logic was founded in 1991 by former Softimage Company sales director Richard Szalwinski, to commercialize the 2D compositor Eddie, licensed from Australian production company Animal Logic.[2] Eddie was associated with Australian software engineer Bruno Nicoletti, who later founded visual effects software company The Foundry, in London, England.

In 1992, Discreet Logic entered into a European distribution agreement with Softimage, and shifted its focus on Flame, one of the first software-only image compositing products, developed by Australian Gary Tregaskis.[3] Flame, which was originally named Flash, was first shown[4] at NAB in 1992, ran on the Silicon Graphics platform, and became the company's flagship product.

In July 1995, Discreet Logic's initial public offering raised about US$40 million. On May 26, 1995, the company acquired the assets of Brughetti Corporation for about CDN$1 million, and in October acquired Computer-und Serviceverwaltungs AG, located in Innsbruck, Austria and some software from Innovative Medientechnik-und Planungs-GmbH in Geltendorf, Germany. After a 2-for-1 stock split on October 16, 1995, a secondary offering in December 1995 raised an additional $28 million.[5][third-party source needed] On April 15, Discreet invested $2.5 million in privately held Essential Communications Corporation.[5][third-party source needed]


Autodesk originally created a San Francisco multimedia unit in 1996 under the name Kinetix to publish 3D Studio Max, a product developed by The Yost Group.[6][third-party source needed]

In August 1998, Autodesk announced plans to acquire Discreet Logic and its intent to combine that operation with Kinetix.[7] At the time, it was its largest acquisition, valued at about $410 million by the time it closed in March 1999 (down from an estimated $520 million when announced).[7][8] The new business unit was named the Discreet division.[9]

The combined Discreet-branded product catalog then encompassed all the Discreet Logic products, including Flame, Flint, Fire, Smoke, Effect, Edit, and Kinetix's product, including 3D Studio Max, Lightscape, Character Studio.

Media and EntertainmentEdit

In March 2005, Autodesk renamed its business unit Autodesk Media and Entertainment and discontinued the Discreet brand (still headquartered in Montreal).[6][10][11]

Through the years, Autodesk augmented its entertainment division with many other acquisitions. One of the most significant was in October 2005, when Autodesk acquired Toronto-based Alias Systems Corporation for an estimated $182 million from Accel-KKR, and merged its animation business into its entertainment division.[12] Alias had been part of SGI until 2004.[13]

In 2008, it acquired technology of the former Softimage Company from Avid Technology.[14]

In 2011, Autodesk acquired image tools and utilities that use cloud computing called Pixlr.[15]

Industry usageEdit

By 2011, these products were used in films that won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects for 16 consecutive years.[16] Much of Avatar's visual effects were created with Autodesk media and entertainment software. Autodesk software enabled Avatar director James Cameron to aim a camera at actors wearing motion-capture suits in a studio and see them as characters in the fictional world of Pandora in the film.[17] Autodesk software also played a role in the visual effects of Alice in Wonderland, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, Inception, Iron Man 2, King Kong, Gladiator, Titanic, Life of Pi, Hugo, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn and other films.[18]

In November 2010, Ubisoft announced that Autodesk's 3D gaming technology was used in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood.[19]


The division's products include Maya, 3ds Max (the new name of 3D Studio Max), Softimage, Mudbox, MotionBuilder[20] the game middleware Kynapse, and the creative finishing products Flame, Flare, Lustre, Smoke,[21] Stingray game engine (discontinued, but still supported until end of subscription).


  • Discreet Frost, introduced in 1996, a SGI-based template-based on-air graphics system for news, weather and sports[22]
  • Matchmover, now bundled with 3ds Max, Maya and Softimage, Retimer and VTour. All acquired from RealViz[citation needed]
  • Media Cleaner, a video-encoder for the Mac, and Edit, acquired from Media 100 in 2001[23]
  • Lightscape, real-time radiosity software for Microsoft Windows acquired in December 1997 by Discreet,[24] was incorporated in 3ds Max in 2003.[25][26]
  • Discreet Plasma, released in 2002, a simplified version of 3ds Max for Adobe Flash authoring[27][28]
  • Discreet GMax, a simplified version of 3ds Max customized for game modders
  • Autodesk Toxik, introduced in 2007, compositing software that allowed users to coordinate work on a production.[29] The software could only be bought for a minimum of 3 PCs, underlining its focus on collaborative, database-driven workflow. With its collaborative functions and databases removed, and renamed "Composite",[30] it is now bundled with Maya 3ds Max, and Softimage.
  • Combustion - acquired as Illuminaire paint and composite from Denim software running on Windows NT and Mac OS. Rebranded as paint* and effect* and integrated into a suite with edit*. Finally unified as combustion, a desktop shot compositor and motion graphics application for Mac OS and Windows. Shared some technologies and user interface elements with discreet systems based products (flame, smoke). Ran as stand alone and integrated with edit*. Eventually ran stand alone only when edit* was EOL'd.[citation needed]
  • SketchBook Pro

Creative finishingEdit


Flame, Flint and Inferno (collectively known as IFF) is a series of compositing and visual effects applications originally created for MIPS architecture computers from Silicon Graphics (SGI), running Irix.

Flame was first released in January 1993; by mid-1995, it had become a market leader in visual effects software, with a price around US$175,000, or US$450,000 with a Silicon Graphics workstation. Time with the software was typically rented at a post-production house with an operator.[31] The Flame software is licensed in a variety of forms, including Flint, a lower-priced version of Flame with fewer functions,[32] and Inferno, introduced in 1995, a version intended for the film market, with a price of about US$225,000 without hardware. Traditionally Inferno ran on the SGI Onyx series, while Flame and Flint ran on SGI Indigo² and Octane workstations. Flame/Inferno were implemented on Linux in 2006. Autodesk said the use of more powerful hardware allowed complex 3D composites to be rendered more than 20 times faster than on the previous SGI workstations.[33]

The first movie to use Flame was Super Mario Bros.; the software was then still in beta.[34] The software also saw use on PBS's 1995 graphics package, designed by PMcD Design and animated by Tape House Digital.

In the 1998 Academy Scientific and Technical Awards Gary Tregaskis (design), Dominique Boisvert, Phillippe Panzini and Andre Le Blanc (development and implementation) received a Scientific and Engineering Award for Inferno and Flame.[35]

Flare and Smoke

Flare, a software-only subset of Flame for creative assistants, was introduced in 2009 at around one-fifth the cost of a full-featured Flame seat.[36]

Autodesk Smoke is non-linear video editing software that integrates with Flame. When sold as a turnkey system, e.g. with an IBM Linux workstation, 2004 pricing started at US$68,000.[37] A version for Mac OS X was announced in 2009, initially priced at US$14,995.[38]


Lustre is color grading software originally developed by Mark Jaszberenyi, Gyula Priskin and Tamas Perlaki at Colorfront in Hungary. The application was first packaged as a plugin for Flame product under the name "Colorstar" to emulate film type color grading using printer lights controls. It was then developed as a standalone software. It was introduced through British company 5D under the Colossus name in private demonstrations at IBC show in Amsterdam in 2001. Alpha and beta testing were held at Eclair Laboratoires in Paris. During the trials, Colossus was running on the Windows XP operating system, but the same code base was also used on the IRIX operating system.

After the demise of 5D in 2002, Autodesk acquired the license to distribute the Lustre software,[39] and later acquired Colorfront entirely.[40] In the 2009 Academy Scientific and Technical Awards the original developers received a Scientific and Engineering Award for Lustre.[41]

Flame Premium

In September 2010, Autodesk introduced Flame Premium 2011, a single license for running Flame, Smoke Advanced and Lustre together on a single workstation.[42] At launch, new licenses were priced from US$129,000 excluding hardware, with upgrades from existing Flame licenses priced from US$10,000. Existing users of Smoke Advanced or Lustre could upgrade from US$25,000.[43]


  1. ^ "2017 Annual Report". Autodesk. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
  2. ^ "Discreet Logic Inc. - Company Profile, Information, Business Description, History, Background Information on Discreet Logic Inc". Retrieved 2012-03-04.
  3. ^ [1] Archived June 11, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "NEWS: Toxik in depth + new screen shots !". Archived from the original on January 23, 2013. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  5. ^ a b Discreet Logic Incorporated (July 11, 1996). "Quarterly Report For the Quarter Ended April 30, 1996". US Securities and Exchange Commission. Retrieved September 8, 2013.
  6. ^ a b "3dsMax 20th Anniversary". Autodesk. 2010. Archived from the original on October 24, 2015. Retrieved September 7, 2013.
  7. ^ a b Dawn Kawamoto (August 21, 1998). "Autodesk to buy Discreet Logic". CNET News. Retrieved September 7, 2013.
  8. ^ "Autodesk Completes Largest Ever Acquisition; Debuts New Discreet Division". Software Industry Report. March 22, 1999. Archived from the original on June 14, 2010. Retrieved September 7, 2013.
  9. ^ Wayne Carlson (September 2, 2008). "Animation Software Companies and Individuals". The Ohio State University Department of Design. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
  10. ^ "Discreet to be rebranded Autodesk Media and Entertainment". GFX Diary. April 21, 2005. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
  11. ^ "Autodesk Re-brands Discreet – Its Industry Leading Film, Television, Post-Production and Gaming Business as Autodesk Media and Entertainment". Press release. March 24, 2005. Archived from the original on 2016-01-10. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
  12. ^ "Autodesk Signs Definitive Agreement to Acquire Alias". Press Release. Autodesk. October 4, 2005. Archived from the original on 2013-10-04. Retrieved September 7, 2013.
  13. ^ Peter Cohen (October 4, 2005). "Autodesk acquires Alias". PC World. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
  14. ^ Simon Carless (October 24, 2008). "Autodesk Acquires Softimage For $35 Million". Gamasutra. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
  15. ^ Robin Wauters (July 19, 2011). "Autodesk Acquires Online Photo Editing Service Pixlr". Tech Crunch. Retrieved September 7, 2013.
  16. ^ Adriene Hurst (March 15, 2011). "Autodesk Tools Build Pipelines for Oscar Winners and Nominees". Digital Media World. Archived from the original on March 21, 2012. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
  17. ^ "Fiction Film Technology to Shine at Academy Awards (7 News)".
  18. ^ E.B. Boyd (February 25, 2011). "Autodesk: The Secret Star Behind Oscar-Winning Visual Effects". Fast Company. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
  19. ^ "Ubisoft Uses Autodesk Games Technology in Ubisoft 'Assassin's Creed® Brotherhood' Production Pipeline : CAD CAM News". 2011. Retrieved 9 August 2011.
  20. ^ "Autodesk Unveils 2011 Versions of Its Digital Entertainment Creation Software". ITnewsLink. Archived from the original on 2012-03-13. Retrieved 2012-03-04.
  21. ^ "Autodesk Announces 2011 Versions of Flame, Flare, Smoke and Lustre". ITnewsLink. Archived from the original on 2012-03-13. Retrieved 2012-03-04.
  22. ^ "Discreet Logic introduces two new desktop-based virtual sets systems; new VAPOUR Preview and Design Station and FROST now support Silicon Graphics Indigo2 IMPACT desktop workstation. - Free Online Library". Retrieved 2012-03-04.
  23. ^ "Autodesk to Acquire Media 100 Software Line". 2001-08-30. Retrieved 2012-03-04.
  24. ^ "Form 8-K: Acquisition or Disposition of Assets". US SEC. December 30, 1997. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
  25. ^ Steve Gilbert (December 16, 2002). "Lightscape to be retired". CG Architect Forums. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
  26. ^ Steve Gilbert (January 31, 2003). "Autodesk Lightscape retires!". CG Society. Archived from the original on September 9, 2013. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
  27. ^ "Discreet Plasma > Reviews >". Flash Magazine. 2002-10-04. Retrieved 2012-03-04.
  28. ^ "Autodesk :: Investor Relations :: News Release". 2002-06-05. Archived from the original on 2016-01-10. Retrieved 2012-03-04.
  29. ^ "Autodesk Toxik 2007". Studio Daily. 2006-04-20. Retrieved 2012-03-04.
  30. ^ "Toxik RIP (sort of) + New Maya 2010". fxguide. 2009-08-03. Retrieved 2012-03-04.
  31. ^ "History of Discreet Logic Inc. – FundingUniverse". Retrieved 2013-06-01.
  32. ^ "Autodesk WikiHelp – About Flint Feature Differences". AutoDesk. Archived from the original on 2013-09-16. Retrieved 2013-09-16.
  33. ^ "20 years of flame". AutoDesk. Archived from the original on 2013-09-01. Retrieved 2013-09-16.
  34. ^ Stuart, Keith. "'The stench of it stays with everybody': inside the Super Mario Bros movie". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  35. ^ "1998 (71st) Scientific and Engineering Awards". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on 2013-09-16. Retrieved 2013-09-16.
  36. ^ Matt Armstrong (April 19, 2009). "Autodesk Adds Flare to Flame and Inferno". StudioDaily. Archived from the original on March 11, 2016.
  37. ^ "Press Release – Discreet Ships New Versions of inferno, flame, flint, fire, smoke and lustre Systems". Autodesk. October 28, 2004. Archived from the original on 2013-07-01. Retrieved 2013-09-16.
  38. ^ Business Wire (2009-12-15). "Autodesk Smoke Software Comes to the Mac". Business Wire. Retrieved 2013-06-01.
  39. ^ "Autodesk acquires license for Lustre".
  40. ^ "Autodesk acquires Colorfront". 2005. Archived from the original on 2016-01-10.
  41. ^ "2009 (82nd) Scientific and Engineering Awards". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 2013-09-16.[permanent dead link]
  42. ^ "fxguidetv from IBC: Flame Premium + Full Length 2011×1 Feature Videos". 2010-09-09. Retrieved 2013-06-01.
  43. ^ Jim Thacker (September 13, 2010). "Autodesk launches Flame Premium 2011". CG Channel. Retrieved 2013-09-16.

External linksEdit