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An Interview with Marc Petit, Senior VP of Autodesk M&E

Marc Petit, Senior Vice President of Autodesk’s Media & Entertainment division, talks about how studios are meeting the challenges of economic uncertainty and workforce globalization and how his company plans to meet future need for technology tools, including adoption of Open Source standards.

Marc Petit, Autodesk M&E Senior VP with Dan Sarto.

As Senior Vice President of Autodesk’s Media & Entertainment division since 2007, Marc Petit is responsible for the development and marketing of Autodesk’s digital entertainment creation products, including Autodesk® Flame®, Smoke®, FlareTM, Lustre®, 3ds Max®, Maya®, MotionBuilder®, Softimage®, Mudbox® and FBX® software and technology.  In a career that included almost a decade at then fledgling Softimage, as well as many years at Discreet, Marc has worked closely with production studios and understands some of the unique challenges they face.  Unlike companies in other industries, such as automotive or manufacturing system design, entertainment production studios create work product judged not by industry or consumer standards, but instead, by the subjective eye of one, or a small group of individuals. The competition is intense and the “look” that producers seek in their productions is always a shifting target.

In his interview, Marc talks about the pressure production companies are facing in today’s uncertain economic times, amid great competitive pressure and increased workforce globalization.  He also talks at length about how Autodesk views the studio’s increasing use of Open Source software and adoption of Open Source data standards.  In his session, “Open Source Software : An Opportunity For The Entertainment Industries,” Marc spoke about the reality that collaboration and workflow are becoming more important at a studio than technological capability and have emerged as the critical differentiators for success. Marc was also a panelist at the session, “An Expanding Frontier: A Panel on Exploring Open Source in Animation & Visual Effects,” moderated by Disney Director of Technology Dan Candela. 

Some of the highlights of Marc’s interview:

“We see a lot of changes in the entertainment industry with a lot of repercussions on animation and visual effects.  We actually view this as a great opportunity. The challenge for us is to work closely, partner with our customers to understand how they want to take their business forward knowing that there are a lot of things with globalization and availability of workforce in a number of countries at various cost quality ratios, knowing that there is standardization of the technology.  The tools and techniques of visual effects are being known pretty much everywhere now so there is effectively a commoditization of some of those things.  It’s changing the way our customers behave and compete and create competitive separation for themselves.  We need to work with them and understand them so that we can tailor our software and deliver them the solution they will need to move their business forward.”

“What we’re seeing with Open Source in the industry is a reflection of the need for standards, the need to be able to share data and establish data driven standards.  None of the studios wants to be locked in to a closed format.  We ourselves are supportive of open formats and Open Source activity in the domain because we believe in the value that we bring, that we want to be judged upon and compete with, is in the quality of the tools.  We want to give them good tools for their creative artists.  We don’t want to win by locking down data. Open standards for data, we’re going to compete by delivering super high quality and cool tools.”

Watch the complete Marc Petit interview here.  Visit the FMX Channel on AWNtv to find dozens of interviews and session videos with top industry professionals such as Ken Ralston, Dave Sproxton, Jeff Okun, John Bruno, Alex McDowell, Volker Engel and Marc Weigert, Richard Edlund, Harrison Ellenshaw and many others. 

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