Sunday, June 30, 2013

AirDailyX Exclusive! Interview with MilViz!

[Developer Interview] Is it Sunday already? Well here is the interview I have been wanting to conduct since the summer of last year and it's a damn good thing I didn't. Because if I had, I would have missed out on the many exciting new developments in production that our readers and myself are just dying to know about. I am of course talking about Military Visualizations. This is a development company that has drastically changed its military embedded identity into something all FS enthusiasts and commercial armchair pilots alike can enjoy. They have also hit the ground running with all the developments on the way! So come and join us on our next fun Sunday read as we sit down with CEO Colin Pearson and find out just what makes MilViz tick, what they are all about, and where they are going!



Today we are talking to MilViz founder and Creative Director Colin Pearson on what MilViz is all about, what they are up to, and how they manage to be the development company with more simultaneous aircraft developments in production than any other in the business. We’re getting to the bottom of it, come join us!

Now given the massive popularity of our most recent interviews with ImagineSim and LHSimulations respectively, I am really looking forward to making interviews more of a staple of AirDailyX. It's my hope that our review style is anything but common, and gets down to the answers you really want to know. Needless to say, this is not your typical 10 question Q&A you will find on other sites, it's a proper interview. I hope you will find it as entertaining as informative.
So in heading for the base of operations of MilViz in Montreal, I had to think really hard about which MilViz aircraft would be best to fly there. Obviously, their Beechcraft Baron 55 is the only aircraft in their portfolio comfortable enough to seat Dom, Mark, and myself. So needless to say, we all piled into the Sabre jet! Just don't ask how it worked out...
Welcome to Montreal and the headquarters of Military Visualizations!

D'Andre: Hello Colin, it's a pleasure to finally have the opportunity to sit down and talk with you. Thanks so much for making the time for us. The Sabre is one hell of an aircraft.

Colin: Hey guys, all good. Glad you could make it! And I’m glad you like the Sabre… it’s deffo high on our love list too!

D'Andre: Okay, we have so much we want to get to and I know your time is extremely limited given the impressive number of contracts and products you currently have in development so let's get right down to it.

Now as your company name suggests, my assumption is that the foundation of the company was to create 3D models for military contract purposes? What was the purpose behind the initial inception of Milviz?

Colin: Milviz started about 20 years ago with the intent of doing visual effects for TV, Film and video. After awhile though, we realized that we were missing an untapped market and headed into videos (internal and external) for defense contractors and the DOD/MOD of the US, Canada and the UK. We also did some projects for TV, books, and magazines… and one of those, a contract for 72 aircraft, led us into the arms of a 3rd party development for flight simulator…
D'Andre: Wow no kidding! I won't get into your DOD/MOD contracts. I imagine we can put 2 and 2 together and besides, I imagine you can't discuss much about it anyway. But I am quite intrigued about the work your company did for film and television. Have we seen your models on screen? And are there movies or shows we can go look for to see your work in action?

Colin: You have deffo seen MV stuff on screen… Some of it’s been in Die Hard 3, Transformers (2) and 2012. If you've played video games, MV stuff is in there too… I can’t say what exactly is in each as I did sign an NDA about that… same as with most of MV’s contracts.
D'Andre: Bummer, I really wanted to get deeper into that! Now as I am aware, you are the Creative Director of the company, did you create the business yourself or did you go in with partners?

Colin:  It was for a long time a one man band but now, we’re about 26 people all around the world with about 8 of them full time.

Dom:  Again thanks for the time Colin. We touched on this slightly but more to the point, when and why did you decide to venture into the flight simulation market?

Colin:  We did 17 aircraft for AlphaSim. It was, in retrospect, something we should have looked at earlier…
D'Andre: Now as I also understand this, and please correct me if I’m wrong, but from what we currently know, you have several projects in development which include: the King-Air 350i, the Mitsubishi MU-2, the F-100D Super Sabre, the F15C, the T38C, the Bell407, the Junkers Ju87, the vintage B732, and from what we learned from TFDi design a couple months ago, the Boeing 717. I have a feeling there are 1 or 2 more projects likely going on that we don't know about. How is this possible? Are these teams employed directly by MilViz or are they contracted designers working from various places?
Colin: We have several teams worldwide who are all working concurrently on different projects… as an example, the 732 modeling/painting was finished just in time for the coder who had been working on the Sabre to jump on and the B-55 coder was finished just in time to start work on the P-38 Redbull (now released) and he then moved on to the Stuka which was done but was waiting for a coder.
I try very hard to keep the teams busy and to keep a regular schedule of releases but… there are moments when we have so many in the pipeline that it does get a bit hairy… now particularly… there are, I believe, 12 in the pipeline… it’s a LOT.

Mark: Amazing! That's a LOT of products in development! Now on the same breath as the above question - is there any further information you can provide to reassure potential customers that all these projects will follow through to completion. There has been some concern over the number of projects that MilViz currently has in development and I’m sure some reassurance would be very much appreciated.
Colin: We will absolutely follow through on these projects. There is a substantial financial interest vested in each as well as a desire to see them through. That said, there are some projects that we dropped and with good reason. The Harrier is a good example of that… We didn't want to be in a fight with Razbam so we backed off. Now of course, things are a bit different so we might not back off next time…
D'Andre: Now in the instances with the Bell 407, and Boeing 717, we understand that you are working with other known development teams. How to these collaborations come together? Do they approach you or vise-versa?
Colin: The Bell 407, I approached ERS and asked if they would mind working with us on the 407. The idea was to have more control over what went into the product. We do plan on working with them in the future on our other rotorcraft.
The B-717… well, we were approached a while back but… we passed on it and then Collin approached us (a year later) and we agreed to move on it. However, it does need to be clear… we are contracting on that one and are not really part of their team.


Mark: Do you ever see MilViz moving into other simulations platforms such as X-plane? Some developers seem to make the transition seamlessly while others avoid these platforms altogether. What is your position?

Colin: We are looking at ways of getting into Xplane but it does require quite a fair bit of extra work on our part to make that happen. We are also seriously looking at DCS…  
Mark: In your opinion, what is the single biggest challenge facing third party aircraft developer’s right now?

Colin: The fact that what the client thinks he should be paying is the same as it was 3 years ago but now he/she expects what they gets now: fantastic quality in the graphics, code, systems and FDE. Our time to market is a killer and the profit margin is getting smaller and smaller. It’s extremely worrisome. As well, if I may, the piracy is a big problem. More and more people are not paying for the products and, instead, just stealing it.

D'Andre: To piggyback on that a bit further on this, a 2 part question if you don't mind. As it's clear your foundation relies heavily on military type aircraft, what prompted you to get into civil aircraft? Might we see a larger aircraft than the 737 from MilViz in the future? Vis-à-vis, NGX?
Colin: We’re doing GA (and larger) because there’s a market there… We are doing this for fun but also to make money so that we can do the more… esoteric of our projects. In terms of big planes, we are probably going to do a C-130J. We have access to all of the info/manuals and a trainer… as well as actual pilots. So it’s a no brainier. (this is NOT an official announcement)

Dom: The C-130J is very intriguing! To shift focus a bit, how do you analyze the FS market today? A few developers are expressing serious concern about a drop in sales lately. To be more specific, in scenery development, some developers are taking more and more time to develop a heavy airport sceneries in hopes they will pay off bigger. It also appears that Aerosoft is challenged by the difficulty of launching new internal projects given the fact that outside developers are producing less products for them to publish.

We are not asking you to comment other developer strategies, but in your opinion, is there such a thing as a "right business model" in FS simulation?

Colin: I can’t speak as to right or wrong. All I can say is that it’s a tough market and it’s getting tougher. There is a big problem with piracy and that’s not helping at all. Development time for any project is anywhere from a year to three years… that’s a looooong time to be without cash flow.

Dom: Very understandable. It's very interesting to see how the development community adapts to this ever changing market. Another thing we are starting is continuous improvements in features techniques. Carenado has developed a new knob feature that helps pilots to better handle VC control functions. Is MilViz developing and implementing any new never before seen features in future aircraft?

Colin: We are but they will, for the moment, stay secret.

Dom: We have noticed something of a growth on FS development companies using Twich as a means to involve the community in product development. Do you have an opinion so far on Twitch ? Do you find as more of a it a tool for promoting new products or for improvement methods with the help of the flight simulation community?
Colin: We like twitch. It’s easy to use and the ads are, so far, unobtrusive…

D'Andre: Colin, we have taken too much of your time! I again want to thank you for having us and taking the time to answer all these questions Without a doubt, MilViz is quickly becoming one of the leading aircraft developers in the business. We look forward to what the future holds for MilViz and the position it's establishing within the flight simulation community.
We wish all the best of luck to you and the team and we are very much looking forward to getting our hands on that 737 soon due for release!

Colin: Thanks for the interview guys. It was a pleasure.

************************************

Without a doubt, MilViz is taking flight simulation by storm. Lately, we have seen many legendary developers slow their development projects and we have also seen many developers abandon flight simulation all together. Sad as this may be given the current market, we are also seeing many new developers arrive on the scene. MilViz obviously being one of these more recent companies.

We are excited about all the current projects making their way through the development tube at MilViz and as always, when they arrive, we will be here to get you the First Look!

As always, thanks for reading!

D'Andre | Dominique | Mark
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29 comments:

Anonymous said...

where's the part where Milviz told a customer on the Avsim forums that because they had trouble with the manuals on an addon to request a refund because they didn't deserve to own a Milviz product?

p3 said...

The formula is utterly simple - you develop decent products (PMDG, ORBX(SOMETIMES) and people will buy it. you develop half baked shit, and people will not.

HighFlyer said...

You do an interview with these guys and report nothing on their King Air in development?

AutoRotationer said...

Interesting reading, but why is there nothing mentioned of the Milviz King Air 350i in development?

DAndre Newman said...

All of their current projects were mentioned. Did you really read it?

Pirx said...

Piracy is a problem that is making everything more difficult to developers, and it is a very bad thing.

In the other hand, there are a lot of products avaible to buy nowadays, customers must choose, and in my case I try to buy high accuracy and graphics first (A2A, PMDG, Carenado, ORBX, and three Milviz, I must say :)
It is important that developers offer sales and discounts usually so customers feel that buying is the better option.

I expected some questions about how Milviz work with real pilots to improve their products, but it has been a good interview to know how Milviz works.

DAndre Newman said...

Let's let the hearsay on this supposed issue remain on Avsim. Thanks.

AutoRotationer said...

Yes, all you said is "projects in development which include: the King-Air 350i", which is common knowledge.

I would have liked to hear more specific information, and you being a turbo-prop fan would have been the ideal candidate to ask Colin.

DAndre Newman said...

Tone it down a notch p3. You enjoy expressing your negative opinions on ADX but don't take advantage of it.

Everything you say in just about every topic you participate in is very negative and spoken in such a negative tone and manner. Of this entire interview, and all the information learned from it, this as all you took from it huh? I honestly don't think this blog is for you dude.

Again, tone it down.

DAndre Newman said...

I get your point Auto but there are several projects in development and the kingAir is not the only aircraft in their development I have serious interest over. It's better to get an overall sense of their abilities and development timelines.

I can't ask detailed development statuses on all their products. Besides, developers don't like to divulge too much information on that anyway.

But if you look at the timeline on all their products from first renders to release, then it's easy to imagine.

Besides, he clearly said projects take a year to 3 years to complete. On average, it takes a year and a helf to develop an aircraft like the 350i.

this was about the case with Carenado's own B200 and C90 respectively. So just check their Facebook for the first renders and count the days...

DAndre Newman said...

Good point on that Pirx, i'll keep that question in mind for upcoming interviews. Just getting this one done took several months. We are busy and obviously developers are very busy. But some good pointers there! Still getting the hang of it.

Sticking with Airbus said...

My question to P3, any chance the glass has ever been half full for you?
Or is it always half empty?

Mason Dominique said...

Great interview.
I really thank you both for the time spent.
This is one of the most detailed interview i have read until now.
Best
Dom
ADX

Dan said...

+1 on that! Great interview, and insight, thanks ADX! If I may say, the ONLY thing I don't like in the FS community is the way they always demand more - in a bad way. A developer releases a product after years of development, and the only thing some people can say is "the FMC doesn't have all the functions" or "the wingflex is not correct" or even worse "Ok, so please make product XY now". I don't know if it's to do with a new generation or just being spoiled, but we should show a certain amount of appreciation before we criticize... I know, I know, we payed for it. But hey, if you buy a Nike T-shirt, do you take it back to the store just because the stitching goes left-to-right not the other way around? Let's not count those rivets...

LapFlyer said...

Yes great interview! I do wish D'André would have pushed for more info on the King Air though. I consider the King Air 350i the most desirable turbo-prop add-on for FSX/Prepar3D this year.

So far the turboprops that have been delivered by Carenado, and supposedly the TBM 850 today by Wilco, leave a lot to be desired. Saying that, all I have seen of Wilco's TBM 850 are mediocre screenshots. Who knows, maybe they'll surprise us with some quality for a change.

I'm counting on you guys to keep us informed regarding the Wilco TBM 850.

Pierre Fevrier said...

Cool interview, keep up the good work. Very glad to see Milvizanswer your questions as they definitely have some of the most interesting projects in the FSX pipeline these days. That Mitsubishi andth Super Sabre are definitely on my list.

DAndre Newman said...

On a side note, I will ask how the progress is going on the KingAir, Supersabre and MU-2 for you guys.

D'

Ryan said...

How is this comment negative? It is a valid fact, the community tends to buy good well made add-ons and pirate half made trashy products.

Anonymous said...

DAndre u need to ban p3 at once!!!! NEVER ALLOW him to post AGAIN!

DAndre Newman said...

Not banning anybody. But I want to be clear this is not the field to spread negativity. And with each of his posts, he is doing just that. ADX is not the place for that. Does he have a point? Sure, but its not what a person says, its how they say it. And for this to be his only thought to share out of all the work that went into this comes off as simply spreading his usual negative thoughts on just about every pose he makes. So my request to tone it down a bit is not far fetched.

DAndre Newman said...

Also, what a pirate might consider as trashy is relative. If a pirate considers the NGX to be a "trashy" addon, does it justify him or her to pirate the product?

Anonymous said...

Great interview. I would like to know what their philosophy on product support is.

gbinozland said...

Would of liked some comment on P3D.

DAndre Newman said...

What do you mean? Their products wotk just fine with P3D. What would you like to know?

AviatorMan said...

I notice that Colin said that their biggest challenge was "...the fact that what the client thinks he should be paying is the same as it was 3 years ago but now he/she expects what they gets now." I think that Milviz would be justified in charging more for their aircraft. Compare the Carenado B58 with the Milviz B55 (I own them both): the Carenado at $32.95 the Milviz at $29.99. If you are pricing per quality, the Milviz B55 should be priced at least 50% higher than the Carenado B58. I think that many flight simmers are tired of paying $30 for airplanes that end up in the hangar, and would be happy to pay more for high quality.

Todd said...

So, Ryan, you are actually justifying piracy?

P3, please leave the PMDG fanboy crap on AVSIM. People treating them as the standard by which to judge all other developers is laughable.
Todd

Todd said...

Colin is truly one of the good people in this business. I really like what they are doing there. I own their Cessna 310 and love that airplane. It's even compatible with the Mindstar G1000. I cannot wait for the MU-2.

A nice thing about their aircraft is you have 30 days to return them if you don't like them. Of course, you won't return anything!

Pierre Fevrier said...

If there is a follow-up to this interview, I would love to hear more about their DCS projects. I've recently branched out to DCS and it seems there are many interesting third party projects. As to how many will actually go through and finish them, who knows...

gbinozland said...

Yes they mostly work fine but Milviz seems to offer no support for anyone using them in P3D.

eg:

http://www.milviz.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=40&t=3056&p=28311&hilit=P3d#p28311

Also on the 737 product page:
"Support for P3D is not supplied at this time though the installer does allow for it."

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