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In this brief article, I want to share some of my thoughts on what I see from where I stand today. Let's start with two observations that border on the obvious. The first is that 3D is difficult. The second is that the 3D market is stagnant from a business perspective. Neither observation is earth shattering. The first is apparent to anyone who has attempted to use any of the current 3D packages. The second is clear to anyone who has invested in a 3D graphics company, or seen the Siggraph trade show diminish in size over the past few years. Now we conclude that the two are related, and that the difficulty of current 3D packages (and their associated pipelines and workflow) is a significant factor constraining potential market growth. Consequently, one conclusion might be that the problem could be addressed by making these systems easier to use. However, no amount of conventional UI design or usability engineering is going to pave the way to any significant breakthroughs in addressable market size. Something far more substantial is required. Unless there is a fundamental change in how we think about things, the industry continues to stagnate, with the key players just fighting for market share, rather than building and participating in healthy market growth. Without such a change, animation, postproduction, and VFX houses continue to be underpressure, and the viability of new start-up companies is limited.
Date of Publication: May-June 2005