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Guest Kelthor

What's next for the CD Plugins?

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Guest Kelthor

May Cactus Dan RIP. Seemed like a good guy, even though I knew him mostly through his work on the CD Plugins. 

With that said, I have to broach the perhaps uncomfortable topic of what happens now. For those of us whom use Cactus Dan's plugins, I have to ask, what's next? Should we start learning Maya rigging? The native C4D tools leave MUCH to be desired in terms of ease of use; Cactus Dan's tools really improved the value of the whole suite, especially for those of us whom export rigs to real-time systems (Unity, Unreal, etc.). 

Just curious if there is any word on anyone picking up where Dan left off, or if some people are looking to move on to Maya. Obviously Dan's tools are good for the immediate future (I used them today), but with Cinema continuing to update, there isn't a guarantee they'll still work 2/3/4 versions down the line. 

Thanks again to Dan though, for making what I consider one of the best plugins on the market. 

 

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I share your interest.  There was a bug in the CD Make Symmetrical command that corrupted the UVs. As he never posted an update (he was aware of it) , I presume it's still there. The compatibility issue workaround is to cofine the plugin's use to supporting versions of C4D.  With his FBX Exporter, it was possible for an animator to use Maya's faster screen response and bring it back to C4D for any Mograph and rendering.   

Maybe Brian Hargonovski can have a look in?:164:

 

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I have licenses for his tools, but alas, it had been a while since I'd needed them, and so I don't have a serial more recent than R15.  I'd sent a request for R18 serial update, but it was too late.  So now I'm stuck either using R15 to access CD plugins, or R18 for everything else, not a nice situ.  I'd really love to get in touch with someone just to get updated R18 serials for my CD plugins.

 

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My understanding is that Dan was a very private person and a single person shop...that is, I have no idea who inherits his estate (wife, children, family members) or if there was anyone else helping him run Cactus3D.com (his web-site).  

I searched through the CG Talk thread on his passing (found here) and apart from condolences, there is no discussion of what happens next....even when that thread was started by his best friend (Automoda) who would presumably be able to provide some guidance.  The best I could find is this quote from Automoda in the first post:

Quote

Tuesday I'm going out to his place and I'm going to talk to his sister. One subject will be his computers and business. While he and I talked 3D a lot, and I even influenced and inspired a lot of his plugins, I certainly am no programmer. I don't know if his sister would be interested in letting someone else try to take over his projects, or if it is even really possible. You know how hard it can be to figure out someone else's pipeline. And he's got it spread on 2 or 3 computers (A couple macs and a PC). I'll let you know if there's any news about that. Anyone that has an order in to him as of now may as well just cancel the order. 

So the big question is who would you even contact if you were interested in acquiring the software?  Even if it was his sister, does she even know all the login passwords on all those machines?  Maybe Automoda could work with her to hack into those machines and find all the source code. That by itself is not trivial but once you cross that  hurdle, then there is the much larger task to pour through that code on three different machines without any explanation and come up to speed on how to improve/debug/maintain that source code.  You've got to really be motivated to take on that effort and the only person/company that might have that much motivation would be MAXON itself as it could save some development time.

But that is NOT the final hurdle.  There is one more and it is even more of a monster.

I am not sure if Cactus3D.com was incorporated or not.  So is C3D a separate legal entity that exists apart from Dan Libisch and who has the rights to his work other than Dan?  While I am not a lawyer, I would imagine that if that is not defined and/or C3D was not incorporated, then it gets messy as C3D then becomes part of Dan's estate. Not sure if Dan had a will and/or was married.  The fact that only his sister was mentioned implies that maybe he was not married.  So who his estate passes onto is in question as it usually passes onto the spouse, but if there was no spouse then the family members.  Without a will defining all that, then his estate will be in probate court for some time to sort all that out.  Also, if there is more than one family member (brothers, sisters, etc), then it gets messy if there was no will because the rights to C3D could be passed equally to each family member. So even if someone was interested in purchasing the source code, then who can legally sell the rights to his source code will not be determined until his estate is fully settled.  Any sales made prior to that determination could be contested in the future, especially if all family members are not in agreement.   So that is a lot of "ifs", a lot of uncertainty and a lot of risk to prospective buyers (if any).  Not sure if that is a risk that a prospective buyer wants to face until the estate is settled.

The fact that there has been no word on what happens next for the last 6 weeks indicates that there is no clear path and quite possibly for the reasons mentioned above.

All in all, I think you stand a better chance of MAXON making internal improvements to C4D's character tool-set in a future release than someone picking up CD's plugins and continuing development.  I hope I am wrong, but it does not look good.  

Dave

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Guest Kelthor
  • Topic Author
  • Thanks a lot for the information, Dave. Definitely the most detailed explanation of the situation I've read so far. I'm not sure how many people are actually effected by this, but some of us use his plugins a ton, and need to figure out what's the best course of action. 

    I'll keep monitoring this thread, and I'm sure if 3D Pangel, Anthony Owen, or anyone comes across an update, then they'll post it here or in the forums. 

    I'll keep using his (fantastic) plug-ins for now, but I think learning Maya rigging might be in my future if nothing develops (to my understanding, his plugins were based around that workflow, so hopefully it'd be a smooth transition). I'm not sure MAXON has improvements to their rigging workflow planned. I'm sure they're aware of Dan's passing; them buying the suite and integrating it would be a dream scenario, but I'm obviously not holding out for that.

    Tim

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    I know I'm significantly impaired in my C4D CA workflow by the loss of access to Cactus Dan's C4D plugins.  The latest I had keys for was R14 (had been busy and hadn't updated for a while), and now it appears my chances of getting R18 keys for them are all but nonexistent.  I keep sending email, but increasingly suspect it is going into his personal, otherwise-unmonitored-by-survivors email account, alas.

    I guess this is just turning into another hard lesson about taking on third-party dependencies, but I really had the impression Dan was a bit more of a planner than to let it all fall through the cracks, guess I was wrong.  Quite the shame, IMO, as the plugins were quite valuable IMO.

    Maybe I should just give up and switch to Maya for animation & CA.  I doubt MAXON will ever give such a Maya-like animation "flavor"/"workflow" to C4D as CD plugins enabled.

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    The Cactus3D.com website is now just returning a "Not authorized to view" message, which doesn't bode particularly well for the plugins.  None of my customer emails since Dan's passing yielded any reply.  

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    His death is very sad. I appreciated not only his plugins but responsiveness when issues happened. He did make it easy to convert joints and skins from his plugins to the generic c4d versions through a menu click on the cd joints and skin plugin. Constraints are easy to recreate if you change aim constraint from +Z to -Z.

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    CD was one of the reasons I've stuck with C4d so long. I will likely keep using my V16 a few more years but in the meantime I have been learning (trying to learn) Blender which has more features updates more often and is free as a bonus. I don't see it replacing the mograph features in C4D but who knows but it does have a lot more character animation features - something mason doesn't seem to care too much about anymore. Dan's tools were a life saver for some many projects, and his kind, prompt responses to questions is something I don't think we'll find much anywhere else. 

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    One time, on a Sunday, I had asked him for guidance and he got right back to me with his customary clarity. I asked, "don't you take a day off?" His reply was to the effect that if you love what you do a day off isn't necessary.

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    Note: Cactus Dan's plugins look to be active again. There are screenshots of them working in R20 in Insydium's R20 announcement post: https://insydium.ltd/news/latest-news/r20-compatible-x-particles-public-release-1st-november-2018/

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    His CD tools would need to be already owned or bought from a previous owner. His being no longer the vender means the one flaw (bug) in his "Make Symmetrical" tool loused up the UVs on one side.

    My last communication with Dan on 5/26/2016 was this:

    Howdy Tony,

    Yes, it's on the list for bug fixes. Seems like I had it working before, but I think I was only testing on a more simple object.

    Adios,
    Cactus Dan
     

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