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August 2014
Issue: November 1, 2009

Q&A: IMAGINEER SYSTEMS' ROSS SHAIN

Imagineer Systems' (www.imagineersystems.com) chief marketing officer Ross Shain discusses the changing world of VFX, the benefits of desktop tools and what the industry will see from the application provider in the coming months.

Post: What are you seeing as the biggest demands placed on editors, VFX artists and filmmakers today?


Ross Shain: “In today's' marketplace, we are seeing a raised expectation on the ‘types’ of tasks a typical editor has to perform as well as the usual demands to accomplish difficult post challenges quickly with smaller budgets. Even as budgets decrease, high-end, effects-driven content is now part of almost every project, regardless of the market or genre. This adds new tasks to the role of editor, and frankly inspires us to stay one step ahead and make sure we right behind them with powerful, but affordable, desktop tools.”

Post: How has that changed? Are you beginning to see a new list of requirements developing?

Shain: “Yes. Traditionally the editor's role was to tell the story then pass off the project to an online suite and VFX specialists for finishing. Now, more and more content is concepted with visual effects as an integral part of the project — regardless of whether the project is a feature film, commercial or even industrial. This forces many editors into the role of creating and or pre-visualizing the actual VFX from the very beginning of the project. What this means is: today's editors need to have many tricks and tools up their sleeves to handle motion tracking for things like screen insertion, logo replacement, and stabilization, as well as rotoscoping and masking capabilities for isolated color correction and removing and cloning areas of the image.”

Post: What trends are you seeing evolve in traditional editorial and post workflows?

Shain: “While there is still some need for facilities to have large, dedicated rooms for post finishing, more and more projects are split out to desktop workstations or even laptops to collaborate and finish. Desktop applications such as Adobe After Effects, Final Cut Pro and Nuke have democratized the ability of artists to offer the highest quality post capabilities on a laptop. While one piece of software might not do everything a full Flame suite can accomplish, today's generation of VFX artists are very comfortable using multiple tools to accomplish one job. Imagineer is happy to be part of this growth. Our very affordable products, such as Mocha for After Effects and Mocha for Final Cut, allow thousands of artists to complete sophisticated effects shots that previously had to be brought into an expensive Flame or Inferno suite. We are helping demystify visual effects!”

Post: What do you see as the biggest disconnect for editors and filmmakers when it comes to tracking and roto work?

Shain: “Typically, the perception of tracking and VFX work in the industry is that it is time consuming, manual labor. There has always been a disconnect between those who actually got their hands dirty with tracking and roto and those who were either afraid to dive in because they thought they didn't understand the process. All of our tools, use very complex tracking algorithms, but have been designed to be very easy to learn for the average user. Consequently, we are finding many users who have never used tracking software be able to learn our software quite easily. Our goal is to break the perception that you have to be an effects expert to take on a challenging shot.”

Post: How is Imagineer responding to these changes in the marketplace?  What’s the impact been so far?

Shain: “About 2 years ago we re-assessed our product line and decided to add focus to the desktop market. Our product offering has grown to include super affordable tools such as Mocha for After Effects and Mocha for Final Cut that list for $210 each. The results have been very positive and Adobe now bundles Mocha for After Effects V.1 with every AE CS4.  Today, we have thousands more users enjoying the benefits of planar tracking versus the select few high-end facilities, who were our primary customers just a few short years ago.”

Post:  What can we expect from Imagineer in the near future?

Shain: “We are currently working on some new exciting releases. Mocha V.2 (full version) is being re-engineered for 64-bit and will add some significant new features as well. Later in the year, we will be updating our core tools Monet and Mokey. We have heard from our customer base that there is a lot of interest Mokey's automatic removal tools and Monet's lens distortion correction, so we hope to get these tools updated onto 64-bits quite soon as well.”