Merged away Sapphire

The world of plug-in vendors is a strange one and in constant flux, not always for the better. There’s an unhealthy tendency towards market concentration and monopolization, which isn’t always a good thing for customers. You know, that thing with prices being higher than they possibly have to be due to lack of competition and lack of advancement in individual products for similar reasons. From a corporate point of view it of course always makes sense with cost savings due to removing redundancy, optimizing everything and thus increasing profit margins. In the world of technology this argument is then bolstered further by the usual “combining best of both worlds” and “merging technologies” stuff.

Generally there’s nothing wrong with any of that – if I were running a small plug-in shed, I’d sure welcome the backing of a bigger company and all the good things that come with it like better income or easier marketing and distribution – but it still makes me sad. Just recently I stumbled across the remnants of my After Effects Plug-in Guide thingy that I had some years ago, and it’s just painful to see how many cool things no longer exist because companies were gobbled up by others or went the way of the dinosaur. Red Giant and others haven’t been exactly particularly innovative and forthcoming in the last few years. It feels like their only concern these days is to maintain their existing product basis and keep it compatible with as many host programs as possible.

I have somewhat similar feelings about Boris FX and their of tools. I never doubted the technical quality of their stuff, but the BCC suite always seemed to be the lesser choice compared to Sapphire, first and foremost because it was aimed at “editor porn” and some of the stuff looked awfully cheap and tacky. That’s why I definitely have mixed feelings about their acquisition of GenArts. That is even more the case since Sapphire 10 doesn’t really offer that much new, which could be interpreted as a sign that things have been boiling behind the scenes for a while with the merger in mind.

Now not all is doom and gloom despite my skepticism, since there’s some potential here indeed. While you need to come to grips with the fact that some duplicate effects will disappear, others could benefit hugely. Lens flares are of course still one of my favorite subjects and I’ve dabbled with both sides. The Boris flares look mostly awful and I of course have created a shitload of flare presets for GenArts that suffered from some limitations, so why not bring everything together in one great effect? Adding some mocha tracking magic inside the flare builder could do fantastic things. Naturally we’ll have to see if and when such things happen and it’s going to take a while, but this could be cool as could be any number of other combinations…

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