To Mac users who've been following the progress of Maya as the powerful 3-D animation software makes its way to the platform, Richard Kerris is Maya's public face.
It was Kerris, after all, who announced at Apple's 2000 Worldwide Developers Conference that Alias/Wavefront planned to develop a Mac OS X version of Maya. Kerris also shared the stage with Steve Jobs during the Apple CEO's keynote speech at this year's Macworld Expo in San Francisco for an eye-popping demonstration of the animation application running on the new OS.
So when word spread that Kerris is leaving his job as Alias/Wavefront's director of Maya technologies, the question among Mac watchers is whether Kerris's departure would hamper development of the OS X version of Maya.
Plans to bring the animation software to the Mac are still on track, says Alias/Wavefront spokeswoman Donna Teggart. "We're still progressing, and we're committed to delivering Maya for the Mac in September."
A September ship date marks a slight delay in Maya's Mac arrival. As recently as this spring's National Association of Broadcasters trade show, Alias/Wavefront talked about shipping the Mac version in late summer, perhaps as early as Macworld Expo in July.
Pushing the tentative ship date to September isn't related to Kerris's departure, Teggart says -- it's just a normal delay that's typical of bringing an application as massive as Maya to the Mac. (Indeed, Maya's 26 million lines of code are more than even OS X itself has.) The company is currently testing a beta of the product, Teggart adds, and could even announce a confirmed shipping date at next month's Macworld Expo in New York.
Kerris's departure comes as an apparent result of the ongoing slump in the technology market. Alias/Wavefront laid off a "handful of employees," Teggart says -- less than five percent of its workforce -- and Kerris confirmed he is one of them.
"If somebody's got to go, at least keep the development team," Kerris told Macworld .
Both the company and Kerris described his departure as amicable. "I understand why these things happen," Kerris says. "I understand the changes the company is going through."
And Kerris's departure isn't complete. Acknowledging the pivotal role Kerris has played in the development of Maya for the Mac and his close relationship with Apple, Teggart says Alias/Wavefront and Kerris are discussing some sort of continuing role with the application. Kerris told Macworld he expects to be at Macworld Expo in some capacity, and he's still testing the Mac version of Maya from his home studio.
"My commitment is still 100 percent for the team and the project we've been working so hard on," Kerris says.
"I've been using the software, travelling around the world with it, and it's really come a long way," he adds.
As for his plans beyond Alias/Wavefront, Kerris says he plans to devote his attention to other projects that reflect some of the changes happening in the tech industry. While declining to reveal specifics, Kerris says he hopes to have news to announce in the coming weeks.