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Will Adobe buy The Foundry? Why it could be great for After Effects users but terrible for Nuke

Neil Bennett | April 29, 2015
The Foundry and Nuke would be a great asset to Adobe and, specifically, After Effects users – but the move could do real damage to the VFX industry.

Adobe is to preparing a bid to buy The Foundry, reports The Telegraph. But who would this be good for?

The story cites no sources, and both Adobe and The Foundry have declined to comment. However, it's public that the Foundry is for sale by its owner — private equity firm Carlyle — and Adobe is, at first glance, a good fit for the role.

Adobe's Creative Cloud line of products dominate over others in widest part of the 'media and entertainment' markets — as software firms call our industries to differentiate them from tools to create real-world things likes products and architecture. Areas where others rule include 3D — where Autodesk is top dog, but The Foundry's own Modo competes — and, on a much smaller scale, high-end visual effects: where Nuke is the compositing software of choice.

Adobe has its own compositing software, After Effects, but this is a different beast. After Effects is an animation and motion graphics tool for a wide range of users at different skills levels — Nuke is for talented, focussed professional compositors only. After Effects is primarily based around a layered timeline, Nuke a node-based system — so working with Nuke is inherently more complex, but that makes it much more capable of creating much more complex effects. And AE is used by a relatively large number of firms around the world — Nuke by a few, primarily in VFX hubs like Soho.

Modo has no real rival within Creative Cloud — except perhaps the stripped down version of Maxon's Cinema 4D that's been built onto After Effects. Modo is better known as a product design tool than a Maya rival and it's interface is further away from Adobe's than Cinema 4D.

The Foundry also owns powerful-but-niche VFX workflow tools like Katana, painting tools like Mari and the recently-acquired Mischief — plus After Effects plug-ins like Keylight (which Adobe licences) and Kronos.

Why Adobe would want The Foundry

So — assuming the Telegraph's story is more than mere fancy — why would Adobe want applications that are more niche than its own, a 3D suite from a different market, some tools that overlap with its own and some plugins? The obvious answers are for the technology and the PR.

Nuke has been the primary compositing tool for the best visual effects seen in Hollywood films, including all recent VFX Oscar nominees and winners. After Effects has likely been used on all of these too, but for much simpler work — and Adobe doesn't get the plaudits that The Foundry does for this. Owning the product used for create Oscar-winning visual effects on Gravity (top), is simpler to understand for those in businesses outside the creative industries — businesses Adobe is pushing towards with tools like Document Cloud.


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