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Imageworks Strikes Tech Deal with Foundry

Sony Pictures Imageworks has struck a deal with The Foundry that would help standardize both toolsets by sharing technology, making the workflow easier and more cost-efficient for artists, which is essential during this economic downturn.

Sony Pictures Imageworks has struck a deal with The Foundry that would help standardize both toolsets by sharing technology, making the workflow easier and more cost-efficient for artists, which is essential during this economic downturn.

Sony would acquire The Foundry's Nuke compositing software, which is rapidly becoming the industry standard (Industrial Light & Magic and Weta Digital recently purchased licenses and Digital Domain, the original Nuke developer, still relies on it). And The Foundry would acquire Sony's proprietary 2D/3D lighting software, Katana.

"What we see as our primary value is making our artists happy, which means giving them the very best tools today and then building the best tools for them in the future, and sometimes the best way is by collaborating with other folks," Imageworks CTO Rob Bredow (http://www.awn.com/articles/3d/tech-talk-sonys-rob-bredow#comment-2244) told AWN/VFXWORLD. "Once we found out that The Foundry basically had the same vision for compositing and lighting and how they interact as we do, it was such a natural fit. They'll get access to all the technology that's inside of Katana, and then we'll be working hand in hand with them to make sure they can leverage that technology in their commercial tools. Our goal is to migrate their solutions in the coming years, once they can overtake the full functionality of what we currently do. And then, of course, it'll be greater because their compositing tools are phenomenal and would certainly be a huge asset to our internal tools, which are already quite sophisticated, but Nuke has some strengths that we don't have, so we'll be able to complement our toolset with that right away and then also build a tool for the future that really covers all of the bases."

Bredow added that Nuke has a "forward-looking and strategic workflow" and acknowledged that it is becoming the industry standard among high-end studios. "Some of our artists who are doing a lot of compositing in Katana really wanted to get their hands on Nuke because they didn't to be out on a proprietary system when everybody else seemed to be going to Nuke. So we'll continue to use both in the next couple of years because there are strengths in both packages, but we're going to be heavily leveraging some of the Nuke toolset -- we're actually already using it on some projects."

And with artists moving more freely back and forth at Sony, supplemented by a greater number of freelancers, this standardization makes a lot of strategic sense. "When a new artist comes to our studio or a freelancer wants to join us to get us through a crunch period of a big production, if they can drop in and use tools they already know, then that's really a huge advantage for everybody," Bredow suggested.

Bill Collis, The Foundry CEO, said in a release, "It's highly unusual for software or post-production companies to share technologies and that's what makes our new relationship with Sony Pictures Imageworks so special…We are looking forward to working with Sony, and to seeing what fantastic results we can achieve together."

In August, Imageworks launched five of its technologies into an open-source development program. The program initially includes OSL, a programmable shading language for rendering, Field3d, a voxel data storage library, Maya Reticule, a Maya Plug-in for camera masking, Scala Migration, a database migration tool and Pystring, python-like string handling in C++.

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