Online VFX

As i’m working in the VFX industry since 12 years, i always thought that the tools that we use are totally unadapted and obsolete. This coming more real than ever with the years.

2 years ago, i decided to rally my ideas from my own experiment around a concept. This concept is large and can’t really be describe in few lines. But there is the main ideas.

But let’s talk first about the software industry. I hate this old school business model of making desktop software, selling it, and justify annual upgrades for making money, even if we don’t know what new functionality to put, we let few new bugs, increase the binary size and make it run slower to obligate clients to buy a new computer.

In 2001, i was using a compositing software called Shake. This software was really perfect. Very fast, binary of 8Mb, impossible to crash it, very new and open philosophy, etc. It was used by the major VFX studios for make movies like Starwars or Lord of the Rings. What’s append, in 2002, Apple acquired Shake’s company and stop the smart development, stop the Windows and Irix version and make a MacOS bugy and slow one, and now this software is no longer sold and updated by Apple. But a huge part of the industry continue to work with, even with the 2001 version on Windows. For me, this example is very good, users don’t need economic upgrades but just smart tools. Another example is about the Adobe softwares, Photoshop is the leading pictures manipulation software on the market now, but what if i’m looking a little around it. Nothing new since 5 years, only attractive words around little improvement, still bugy, binary is about 1Gb now, and you need a fucking Nasa computer to work correctly. So most of the Photoshop’s operators that i know are still using older Photoshop versions. The tools was good 5 years ago, with everything to work properly, we know where are bugs and computers are fast enough now to made it run correctly.

What’s new now? Since few years are coming online apps. Google doc is a very good example of what to do. Simple app, light, easy and handy for free user and more advanced with support for clients. I love this business model.

My idea is very simple, made a complete picture manipulating online apps based on a media repository and a single rendering engine.

1 – Media Repository:

No new ideas here! I was thinking about such thing few years ago. Now such tools are very usual. Except that movie industry users need the medias to be in local network, remote web access for uncompressed pictures or video are not really possible yet. Also, a real user interface, no complexes setup, think artist way, not programmer’s way. Mesh is a very good example. With a versioning system, it could be perfect.

2- Media Manipulating Tools:

What are pictures tools? There is a bunch of software’s kind that use different GUI system for do the same things. Editing, color grading and compositing are very similar softwares. Only GUI allow you to do different things and work on different parts of the media more or less comfortably.  The main idea is to setup all those differents GUI all around the same rendering engine.

Advantages are users can define them own way of working, all clients are always up to date so no compatibility problems exchanging projects, an online plugins and scripts repository will allow users to send rendering remotly all over the world without installing new plugins, new version, etc.

A simple version could be free to let new users work and train with the app, and a professional versions could be rent with extra GUI an functionality depend of clients. More precise tools and dedicated hardware control.

The renting tools idea is really great for industry. Rather than buying very expensive tools, they could only rent software even for a day in some cases. It’s also better for manage production pipeline and operator’s licenses. It can be more precise in prices range over a project.

The Open fX project is also very interesting for making plugins inter compatible. It already exist every possible functionality. The use of GPU in 2D software still rare and not often used in smart way. GPU for make sound processing just even don’t exist yet.

Off course, the greatest probleme making such application is to find a way to make the browser’s GUI and the local media communicate together. It’s not really possible to work remotly on a web server for profesional that use a lot of uncompressed contents.

My google presentaion

3 – Media Project Tools:

No finished online tools exist for managing film, tv, print or any media projects. This could be a very good starting point making money. Free simple and graphical tools to let people get addict, and more complete and professional tools  in rent.


I think that the software industry is really deeply changing. All artists that i know are really tired of existing old school softwares and they are always looking for something lighter and smarter. Of course i can talk about this for weeks. But all what i just described don’t exist yet. It should.

#vfx, #visual-effect