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Adobe buys The Foundry ?

It’s Monday and the end of the (VFX) world just has been announced… Or so it seems. What undoubtedly can only be considered surprising or even shocking news, it seems Adobe may get involved in the bidding war for The Foundry. OMFG! Of course for now it’s only a rumour and in fact the article exposes a terrible lack about what The Foundry actually do, so it should probably taken with not just a grain, but a spoon full of salt, but it’s of course relevant. So for better or worse, let me fire my thoughts about this at you. As with all Adobe-related news, there’s of course a good and bad in there.

The good – well, we all would love to use Nuke, Mari, Katana and modo “on the cheap” via our Creative Cloud subscription. And now for the unending list of “bad”.

The most obvious question is of course where would The Foundry‘s tools actually fit in Adobe‘s portfolio? They are completely different, both with regards to the technical underpinnings as well as their workflows. That works from both ends, though arguably even hardened Nuke users prepare imagery in Photoshop or import clips created in After Effects already. And not to speak of modo even. Adobe would need a major effort to bring this to the users’ hearts. That and of course even the way the programs are now, you couldn’t just dump them into Creative Cloud. You know, there’s that annoying little thing with the activation system…

The other question is whether there would be any immediate or mid-term benefits for Adobe. I say no – the highend VFX market is very demanding in terms of supporting your users, but generates only so much revenue. In that regard the company would have to choose between flood and fire. Either retain that market and live with limited influx of money (which per unit cost of course is high, just not everything added up because only a limited number of licenses is sold) or move into the mass market at the cost of no longer providing specialized products to a specific crowd. Things are looking a bit better when you think of 3D content creation, meaning modo, since there’s multiple markets to address here like game development, broadcast, visualization etc., but one should not forget that modo is more like Maya than it is Cinema 4D so it will be a tough sell to “designers” that only use Photoshop. That and of course Adobe have not yet proven that they actually understand 3D workflows. From the really awful Raytrace 3D stuff in After Effects to the at best mediocre 3D features in Photoshop to Shockwave 3D rotting in the dumps the list of failures is too long.

Others have suggested that Adobe would be interested in using the technology, which of course is always true when you think about what value patents can present, but I think statements like this one made in this article are just plain ignorant:

Adobe could reskin and reengineer Modo to build a 3D suite that looks and works like (and with) the rest of Creative Cloud much more easily than building its own.

No, not so fast. We’re talking about years and years of development with complex APIs, different UI libraries and what have you. Any “reskinning” would take at least 2 or 3 years and even then still be incomplete. This also begs the question of “Why should they even?” Potentially any such effort could hamper actual core development of the apps and what is top-notch now, could end up being outdated in 5 years. The more you integrate, the more complex this could become and personally that’s one of my pet-peeves with Adobe: If they weren’t so hellbent to exploit their tech across all apps, development of the individual products would be much more streamlined and proceed faster. Either way, we’re definitely talking about a much more complex undertaking than integrating Speedgrade‘s color correction into Premiere Pro and look, even that took three years or so.

A point that I find funny and which is a bit worn out is Adobe‘s lack of support for Linux. People always assume this would be out of sheer spite, but the simple truth is that the numbers didn’t/ don’t add up compared to Mac OSX and Windows. Even today the people actually using desktop Linuxes for anything else but programming, web design and a few other things is only a fraction of the others and be honest: Beyond getting a cheap Chromebook, would you consider it? It’s still a limiting factor and while Linux has matured with automatic installers, automatic configuration and broad driver support for hardware, it still requires at least some nerd genes. What people usually forget is that the only reason it is so widely used in the VFX industry is because it doesn’t incur any extra licensing cost and can be customized since it’s available as source code. Things would probably look different if Windows was OpenSource as well. With that said, nothing is of course impossible and having access to apps that already run on Linux might even further Adobe‘s interest in that area.

Finally we of course need to talk about Maxon. If there is any truth to this rumour, they have suddenly moved from being winners to the bottom of the list. This is sure going to wipe any grin from their face since interest in Cinema 4D will plummet to the bottom of the ocean and they’ll find themselves in a position where they need to slug it out with Autodesk, NewTek and others just like in the old times. No more getting users on the hook with the sweet poison that is Cinema 4D Lite, if you get my meaning…

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One comment on “Adobe buys The Foundry ?

  1. Interesting perspective. Kind of funny that you link to my article while talking about Linux, since I obviously agree with you and it was a minor point I was raising. But thanks :) In the end, we mostly agree.

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