So you can now create custom Vector animations – if you are rich

DDL released a Kickstarter update about “the next phase of OSKR”. But still most of the source is missing, also tools and toolchains and of course also halfway decent documentation is nowhere to be seen.

What is this “next phase” about? They released some animation libraries and meshes on Github. That is good.

But what is very bad: these are in the original Maya format (.ma) used by Anki. There was no conversion done whatsoever to make them usable for the average user. What’s the problem with Maya, you ask?

Maya is an industry standard that is used in modelling and animation in TV, movie and the gaming industry. The software was bought some years ago by Autodesk, a company that is extremely greedy and customer hostile in my opinion. They removed the free Personal Learning Edition (PLE). And they changed the commercial model from a perpetual license to a subscription.

If you want to use Maya you would have to pay over 2200 Euros a year or 276 Euros a month.

There is a 30 days test version, but you have to be aware of the fact that Autodesk installs heaps of spyware and spyware services on your computer if you install it without asking for permission. They claim this is to prevent piracy. You will have massive problems to get this spyware off your computer again, since it does not even uninstall if you delete Maya after the 30 day trial. Believe me, been there, done that, got no shirt (I own a Cinema 4D license and wanted to convert some files to C4D and installed Autodesk software).

Unfortunately the .ma format is not open and there are no free converters to other formats like fbx. There are no importers for other software packages like the open source Blender.

cyb3rdog showed a way to import .ma files into Unity (a game engine that offers a limited free version), from there you could export to fbx or other formats, but for that path you also need Maya installed on your system.

So: You now can work on animations for Vector, but only if you are willing to pay 276 Euros a month for it by subscribing to a Maya license that floods your computer with spyware.

I would AT LEAST have expected that the people at DDL convert all assets to a format that can be used by every interested party – and not only rich ones. They most probably HAVE a Maya license and should be able to convert the assets – and they should have done so. To just release the Maya assets is an extremely cheap route to go in my opinion. Especially if it means forcing a Maya subscription onto the users. In OSKR the term “Open Source” ist hidden, a Maya subscription is the direct opposite of open source.

Not “the next phase of OSKR”, but another disappointment.

3 Comments

  1. EEProf

    I guess I must be missing something here. Maya is a 3D animation system and is used by game developers. How much 3D can you do and how complicated can it be on the Vector display? At some point the data has to be sequences of pixels or a movie, why not just take the original animation data sequences and duplicate, edit, whatever?

    Are you saying that Vector is running a Maya rendering engine?

      1. EEProf

        Interesting! I was not aware of that (the body ‘animations’). I DL’d the C4D files (from the follow on post) and was surprised to see a Vector and not sets of ‘eye screens’. So much is explained.

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