SiNi Software is one of the most trusted 3ds Max plugins for various creative solutions.
SiNi is Simon Donaghy and Nigel Hunt.
Having combined tremendous experience and exposure into various industries including Architecture, Games, Virtual Reality, 3D, Visual Effects and other Media and Entertainment industry, Simon and Nigel established SiNi Software. Through their unique set of production level plugins for Autodesk 3ds Max, SiNi is a big name in the creative industry.
We discussed at length with Nigel about SiNi Software and its overall gamut of operations. Key finding of the interview are as follows.
Kindly share your educational and professional credentials.
I have 25 years experience as a director/producer of film, visual effects and architectural visualisation projects on more than 2500 projects in 40 countries. I trained in architectural design in New Zealand before moving to the United Kingdom in 1992 and working for Sega.
I then trained in 3D Autocad and 3d Studio (DOS version), freelanced for a few years and set up my own studio, Glowfrog, which I ran for 20 years. I’ve worked on 30+ tv series and films, and now share my time between SiNi and my consultancy working on client commissions, mainly directing films and immersive VR productions.
Si (Simon Donaghy) has been a software programmer and technical director in video games and visual effects for 20 years, having run his own companies in the USA, before moving to Ireland and then the United Kingdom around 10 years ago.
How and why you and Simon collaborated to create SiNi Software?
Si and I have worked together for 5 years on Broadcast TV shows that encompassed complex CGI and VFX sequences. In order for our team to handle the intensive 3D modelling and visual effects shots, Si developed a pipeline of tools that enabled us to deliver on time and in budget, with a smaller team than we would typically have worked with to achieve the same results. After the shows finished we had so much interest from freelancers who wished to get hold of the tools that we decided to try making a new company, SiNi (Simon and Nigel) Software.
Check out new features of SiNi Software v1.10.1.
What are roles and responsibilities of both of you?
I am CEO and my main role is focusing on growing and building the business, strategy and business partnerships and marketing/sales. I am also the main investor, providing the seed capital to get SiNi Software off the ground.
Si is CTO and responsible for the development of the products and website integration, managing a team of bright young developers led by our third director and software wizard, Josh Gruitt. The team have excelled in writing more than 3 million lines of clean code in two years.
Si and I share many of the responsibilities of running the business. The whole team contribute to the brainstorming of software ideas and features, with Si and myself left to design and develop the best ideas into new software.
How do you identify the need to create 3D plugin?
To be honest we’ve got a back catalogue of tools, scripts and ideas that’s incredibly long and based on both our experiences using 3D software since the beginning! This goes beyond the archviz industry and into VFX and Animation as well.
For me, I have worked in CGI and architectural visualisation for more than 25 years which has given me an insight into how studios function. My approach is from a studio owners point-of-view, i.e. I need my team to do things faster, for less, so I can make a profit. In today’s economy, with project budgets being driven down by clients and competition, it’s becoming more difficult for everyone to make a living. My goal is to try helping reverse that putting more in the pocket of our members.
Si on the other hand uses his experience in visual effects and video games programming as a starting point. His extensive experience and knowledge helps develop different practices and techniques that save our members valuable time and money.
We also now work closely with our members and industry figures to qualify our ideas before development and often adopt their ideas and suggestions as new features or new products. After all, SiNi develops software the community needs and requests.
Being a bridge between huge software companies and an artist is hercules task. How do you manage it successfully?
We’ve approached building a software company from the perspective of having been in production for many years and therefore we have first hand knowledge of the software problems and issues studios and freelancers face on a daily basis. We grew tired of waiting for the yearly release of new features in off-the-shelf software provided by the main brands, especially when we believe we can respond faster to requests and the new challenges such as the adoption of VR (Virtual Reality).
We’ve set out to create bespoke tools which directly help with the tasks the AEC community work on now. Our niche is that we are tackling the tedious and time consuming tasks such as fixing imported 3D models to allow them to get to the fun creative work faster. Further, we are small, nimble and independent, meaning we must remain friends with all our development partners and support as many of them as possible.
We’re able to support 3rd-party solutions that include most renderers, plugins and file formats, plus we are working on software outside the Autodesk ecosystem, such as UE4 (Unreal Engine) and soon Sketchup.
Explain in brief regarding all products of SiNi Software.
Our products can be divided into two groups, Utility plugins and Object plugins.
The utility plugins are grouped into our IgNite toolset. The IgNite toolset includes everything you need in production with more than 200 tools plus a expanding selection of bespoke plugins, allowing you to optimise and repair models, automate the setup HDRI lighting, relink projects, asset library, MAXScript loader, SiNiScript, spline tools and much more. The latest tool to be released later this month is Preflight, a 3D model checklist to run through before exporting to Unreal Studio.
IgNite toolset includes;
- Springboard – daily workflow tools in one place, including camera and display settings, MAXScript loader and many more…
- Forensic – inspects your scene for issues and fix them before working on a scene. 5* rated by 3DWorld Magazine.
- Scribe – spline tools, repair, cleanup, optimise.
- Sculpt – mesh tools, repair, cleanup, optimise.
- Unite – relink and archive projects, including over 45 3rd party file types you may use in your work.
- Jumble – random object transforms.
- Illumi – HDRI setup wizard (includes professional HDRI files from HDRI-Skies).
- AMI – Asset management interface that is being built to future proof your library.
- SiNiScript – Build your own MAXScript to include SiNi tools and functions.
- PREFLIGHT – Utility checklist tool to run through and check-off before exporting to Unreal Studio.
The object plugins include;
SiClone – Parametric modeller that allows you to build simple repetitive assets or complex models, with an easy to use UI.
Disperse – 3D paint and object replace tool.
Scatter – Random scattering of objects.
ProxSi – Universal proxy with round-trip editing and asset lock.
Please share your production works of SiNi Software.
We have no idea how many projects our software has been used on as our Members work is private and not shared knowledge.
Personally, I’ve used it on large-scale archviz masterplan projects including Europe’s largest residential regeneration scheme, Wembley Park as we as the massive Dubai Creek Harbour masterplan in Dubai, which also has the tallest building in the world designed by world renowned architect, Santiago Calatrava.
How has been response of SiNi Software users?
Our members that have taken the time to get to know and adopt the tools into their workflow say they are vital now, and they can’t work without SiNi software. It takes a little time to change old habits, especially if using a multitude of scripts etc.
Our products are being used globally by thousands of 3ds Max users, with our free Forensic appearing to be the most popular so far.
When it comes to pricing, it’s taken a while for artists to accept our decision to stick to the software as a service model, paid for monthly or yearly. However, with more and more tools and features being added, and people realising our discounted costs are much less than the maintenance plans of our competitors, it’s becoming less of an issue. You get a lot of software for your money with us!
Here are some endorsements;
“Congratulations guys on the update, its really impressive how fast it is. Thank you for making my miserable time importing from Revit a little bit more bearable” – Rogers Stirk Harbour Architects, 2018
“Another amazing tool, thank you SiNi” – Aecom, 2018
“Forensic is incredible and I wish I’d had access to it years ago” – Paul Hatton, 3D World, May 2017
“SiNi have produced a wealth of genuinely useful plugins. An intuitive, user friendly bundle – supplied as a one-stop-shop they are a true godsend for any production pipeline!” – Steve Ward – Creative Director, Rock Hunter, 2017
“SiNi is a game changer. 100 Mount St was only possible because of Forensic and Ignite. We can’t imagine going back. It’s revolutionised our workflow here at Binyan.” – Michael Bao – Head of Modelling at Binyan Studios, 2017
Which programming languages do you use to create various products of SiNi Software?
All of our commercially available tools are developed in Visual C++. We do use MAXScript, Python etc when working on fast ideas or bespoke commissions for clients. C++ allows us much more processing and memory power that MAXScript simply cannot handle on massive computational tasks.
How your products are different from peer competition?
Our USP is we are focused on developing a cross section of products, or an ecosystem of plugins where an artist can use one or two for specific tasks such as fixing models, removing doubles faces etc, or use all 14+ plugins as a complete archviz suite.
By offering the complete suite of plugins and tools for nearly the same cost as one product from competitors, means we’re offering excellent value for money. As we continue to add tools and plugins this business model becomes more and more attractive.
We also set out to offer our tools on monthly and yearly subscription, which many people resisted at first. However this is the norm now and allows us to continually improve our products and support our members.
What can we expect in future updates of SiNi Software?
We recognise the demand to expand our tools to support other products. We have started developing for Unreal Engine and will have a new tool released by the end of June 2018 that will ease the issues of exporting to Unreal Studio/Datasmith. Following this we plan to start looking at developing for Revit and Sketchup. We also have plans for Maya plugins.
There are also new products in development including our long-awaited asset management tool AMI (asset management interface), and the city generating tools Urbanise and Colonise, plus around 10-20 ideas for other tools and features.
To support our community of members we also have cloud storage and file sharing plans, which extend the library capabilities of our plugins and allow freelancers and multinationals to work without limitations.
The Virtual Assist wishes Simon Donaghy and Nigel Hunt best luck for their future endevour with SiNi Software.
Check out image gallery.