Troubled 3D giant Alias|Wavefront has closed its Santa Barbara and Seattle research & development offices . The controversial decision was against the wishes of co-founder of Wavefront Technologies Mark Sylvester (pictured), who has left the company as a result after an 18-year tenure.

Alias was founded in 1983, and Wavefront was founded a year later by Sylvester and two others. In 1995 the two companies merged to become the leader in 3D visualization and special effects. The corporate HQ is in Toronto, Canada.

Alias|Wavefront is the developer of 3D visualization and special-effects application Maya - recently ported to Mac OS X. The company also makes StudioTools - the leading 3D software for industrial design, automotive styling and technical surfacing.

Details of the closure are still emerging, but it’s clear that it didn’t go down well with Sylvester. Now he has left the company he intends to stay in Santa Barbara where he has been building a community of new media artists, The South Coast Alliance of Media Professionals .

Sylvester said “I love this industry - and want to see how my newly found independence can be brought to bear upon rallying the users of all the various 3D and 2D packages - to form a global alliance of artists - and be their voice back to the manufacturers”.

While at Alias|Wavefront Sylvester’s title was Ambassador, and he described his role as the voice of the customer within the company. He seems intent on carrying on being the voice of the customer from outside the company in the future.