With trade shows comes news, and lots of it. Usually the stories are about new products and various upgrades. But, every now and then there are headline-making developments, such as the bombshell that dropped at IBC informing us that Blackmagic Design has acquired Eyeon Software, maker of digital compositing, VFX, and motion graphics software.
Dan May, president of Blackmagic, took time out of his busy schedule to discuss this business move with CGW Chief Editor Karen Moltenbrey and what it means for the company, users, and the industry in general.
How long has the acquisition been in the works?
The Eyeon Software [deal] has been something we’ve been discussing back and forth with them for quite some time. It hit our radar over a year ago, but it really all came together in the last few weeks. By the time it did come together and the Xs and Os were figured out, it was just two to three weeks ago. A lot of the announcement is that [the deal] has happened, but we haven’t had a lot of time to really strategize about what it will all mean. But, this is exciting, powerful software that’s used in Hollywood and elsewhere, and we think it is going to sit well within the portfolio we already have out there. The acquisition is very fresh, right out of the oven.
What is the strategy behind the acquisition?
Because it is so new to us, we don't really know what the long-term plans are going to be. There are obviously several options. All we know right now is that it is something that we really wanted to add to our portfolio. We have this fantastic Resolve software that we feel we have done very well with, and it’s been five year since that acquisition. We have taken Resolve from being something that only a handful of people in the world could use well to being a tremendously powerful and beloved software used by hundreds of thousands of people — the color grading and final processing, the editing….
If we look at how we build our entire Blackmagic portfolio — whether it is the hardware or the software — this kind of compositing aspect [in Fusion] is clearly what people want, and we believe in its software capabilities. It has been used in thousands of amazing Hollywood movies. But, it has the feeling attached to it that it is Hollywood’s secret sauce. There can be a number of reasons for that, whether it’s branding or accessibility, but these are things that we have a track record of being able to improve upon. We believe what we can bring to the table is our branding and put [the product] in front of a wider audience. The usability of it already is quite nice.
We will take a really good look at what we might do with the software. We don't know what the long-term plan will be, but when we put it in the portfolio next to Resolve, it will build a really important part of the puzzle out there.
What attracted you most to Eyeon?
Fusion is the core software, and we thought that having compositing alongside Resolve is a big piece of the [solutions] puzzle within the Hollywood space and elsewhere, [insofar as] doing your editing, compositing, color grading, and finishing. Resolve has come a long way from just being a staple in color grading and finishing; now, in the last 12 months, we have added more editing capabilities. While compositing capability is not something Resolve has, [that function] has to go somewhere else and we want to provide that option, even though we always want to be open with all the software out there.
So you are plan to continue to keep Fusion open?
By having Fusion as part of our lineup, we will now have a great compositing application in the three-legged production process. Now we can keep it all internally if someone chooses to work within a complete Blackmagic workflow, but we always want to be open with users who also want to use other tools.
Will Eyeon be operating independently?
Right now the plan is to continue to sell product from Eyeon’s Website, but we will look it over in the next few months and determine what the longer term road map should be. We have several ideas. Everything they have been doing continues to work well, and it will take some time for us to look at what we will do going forward.
What is the new future plan for management team?
At this point the entire team — it is not a tremendously large group — will stay where they are up in Canada, where they will be operating under the Blackmagic banner.
How will future development occur?
We will be talking about that at a later date. This is all just too fresh to say right now. We have many ideas. It just got signed off and everyone is jumping on planes headed to IBC. When we get back, we’ll figure out what the plans will be. We don’t have a timeline or an ideal grand plan. There’s lots of research and thinking to be done.
What will this acquisition mean to users?
When Blackmagic usually does an acquisition of a company, suddenly products become more accessible and easier to use, and better integrated with greater solutions — we have this track record with DaVinci and others, where we take these good products (we always look for companies with great technology) and make the applications more accessible in terms of pricing usability, accessibility.
What impact will the deal have on Blackmagic?
It will certainly have an effect on our portfolio. This is our second software application, and everyone knows we have a lot of hardware between cameras, IOs, and converters. Resolve has been our only software solution up until now, and this is probably the first step toward showing we are not just a hardware vendor and Resolve, and that Resolve was not a fluke.
Blackmagic is always busy with new products, and more recently you have had some especially big news.
It’s been five years since we acquired DaVinci. And since then, we created our own cameras. It is amazing if you look at the last 10 years of Blackmagic. This is another expansion of ‘What else can we do, and how can we get there?’ We have seen many acquisitions that have not gone well, but we
have had success with ours. We have been able to empower the creative user.
Are you trying to be a one-stop shop?
There is an appeal there, but we don't want to say that we are the only shop. We are making sure that all these tools work together well, but we do not want to say ‘You only can use our tools.’ We just want to offer great solutions. Customers do not want to be forced into using every solution a company offers.
Is it unfair to ask if there is anything else that’s new?
We just made 10 different announcements at IBC. We stay busy. We want people to know that we work hard as a manufacturer and are always pushing forward. We are always looking at how we can empower creative individuals and work hard at achieving that goal.