Last week, Autodesk dropped a bomb on the computer graphics community: their next version of AutoCAD will also be released for Mac OS X for the first time in 18 years. That might not seem like a big deal to some, but to others, it is an absolute blessing.
In our industry there are a few key pieces of software that are ubiquitous; you see them everywhere. The most obvious example is Adobe Photoshop. Everyone uses Photoshop. You can't get around it. I know there are substitutes; you can use Corel Paint Shop Pro, GIMP, or Paint.net, or literally hundreds of other Photoshop-type clones, but for the most part, people just tend to use Photoshop. It is what they are used to, and it is what they like. Maybe there is a better program out there, but when you are working under a deadline (and if you work in entertainment, you always are), you don't have time to seek out and learn that "better program." Software like Photoshop is an industry standard so people learn that, so it stays the industry standard, so people learn that, and so on and so on in a self-reinforcing loop.
AutoCAD is nearly the same as Photoshop in that regard, except it has a major competitor: Nemetschek Vectorworks. However, even though many people use Vectorworks, for many others, AutoCAD is the only program they like to use for drafting because it is what they are accustomed to using and it is what they like. For years, I have watched my colleagues go to great lengths to use AutoCAD. Some people are fortunate that they primarily use Windows and have enjoyed new releases of AutoCAD every year. Others of us had to do things like install Boot Camp, Parallels, or VM Ware to run a virtual copy of Windows on our Macs, to run AutoCAD. Some people simply buy a PC that they just use to run it and other Windows-only software, which is a solution, but adds considerable expense to an already hefty, but justified cost. Sure, you could say, "Why don't you just use Vectorworks," but if you're always busy, you might not find the time. Fortunately for those of us who depend on a certain brand of software, or a certain operating system to get our work done, we shall see a native OS X version of AutoCAD this fall as well as simple AutoCAD viewers for iPhone and iPad.
Daniel Brodie is a freelance New York-based projection designer and multimedia artist. Recently, he was the assistant projection designer on Rock of Ages and Sondheim on Sondheim. Check out brodiegraphics.com, inc.