If you follow my blog, you probably know that I’m working with Red Giant Software these days. That was a choice I didn’t even have to think hard about. The opportunity to work with guys like Peder Norrby and Stu Maschwitz, the creative geniuses behind Trapcode and Magic Bullet respectively, was just too good to ignore. Here are two people who truly understand us (the users), and who spend a ginormous amount of time and energy working to bring us something amazing and original and often ground-breaking. Their products have repeatedly become industry standards in the area of motion graphics and color correction because of the quality and care they put into their work. When it comes to product decisions, they are willing check their egos at the door, and sacrifice features they love for what is best for the product and the user. They bring something to our industry so few people do – tools we want, need, love, and can’t live without.
So it stands to reason that sooner or later some asshole is going to try and rip them off.
Let’s face it: The economy hasn’t been kind to our industry. People skipped over a whole Adobe Creative Suite because no one had the money for upgrading, and the CS4 feature list wasn’t flashy enough to make people part with what little they had. Adobe had to let go of a lot of people because of that. But when that happened, did Adobe try and turn Premiere Pro into Final Cut Pro? No – they tried to improve their products with a whole bunch of new features. Mercury engine, Content Aware tools,
Flash programming for the iPhone. Regardless of how Adobe’s effort turned out (I’ll leave that to the critics), it’s clear they care about their products.
Unfortunately, when times are tough, and software isn’t selling, not everyone thinks enough of their own products to try and improve them. Why fix the out-of-date fluff your selling, when you can just add more half-baked software on top of an already bloated and irrelevant product line? Why look inwardly, when you can instead look outwardly to find the tools that are already successful, and copy them?
But the funny thing is, when that happens, the copy is never quite as good, and usually far, far worse.
What I say next, I say as a veteran animator who has used most of the plug-ins available for AE, not as a Red Giant company man. If Boris FX wants to try and rip-off Trapcode and Magic Bullet with cheap Chinatown knockoffs that show just how out of touch they are with the industry, so be it. It’s embarrassing for them, and insulting to users to even think we’d believe the products are in the same class.
Red Giant isn’t the only ones Boris has gone all Panatronix/Sansung on. He recently released the creatively named “XML Transfer” a facsimile of the highly popular Automatic Duck. Boris actually says on his site: “We bring integration to a new level, giving editors the ability to transfer entire Final Cut Pro sequences to After Effects. ” I am honestly not really sure what he means by “new level,” since Automatic Duck has been doing this for years, only with more consistent results.
But of course, when you’ve lost touch with the users, and have not a spec of creativity yourself, you really can’t tell the difference between doing it, and doing it well. It’s painful to see Boris become a “me too!” company, but it only proves that the thought, energy and time Red Giant puts into its products and customers is well worth it.
Good products come from research and development. Not monkey see, monkey do (badly).