A bit of surprising news came across the tubes just the other day about one of the workhorse tool companies of post-production. That news was that Automatic Duck, and its founder and face man Wes Plate, had been scooped up by Adobe. It was quite a surprise to me as I have always seen Automatic Duck as a platform independent company. While they specifically made plugs-ins for Adobe After Effects and Apple Final Cut Pro these tools made it possible to to move edits into other systems including Avid Media Composer and Pro Tools as well as Quantel. And like that, Automatic Duck was gone … at least for a little while.
It’s important to note that Automatic Duck hasn’t been exclusive to building plugs-ins for FCP and AE. A check of the Wayback Machine reminds us that there was a time when Auto Duck were making plug-ins for Autodesk Combustion and Adobe Premiere Pro. These guys have been building post-production workflow tools for quite a few years now so they know something about software translation and engineering.
It was an email on September 26 that brought the news that “Automatic Duck has partnered with Adobe Systems.” That seemed pretty straight forward but this email letter to Auto Duck customers also said that co-founder Wes Plate had “joined the Adobe Product Marketing team.” With that letter the Automatic Duck website went dormant with a note to customers and no way to purchase and/or browse Automatic Duck products. This seemed a little sudden, especially considering the new Final Cut Pro X OMF export tool that Auto Duck delivered back in June when FCPX shipped. The tool came out and it worked (before the new XML I/O of FCPX 10.0.1) but like all the other Auto Duck tools, it’s gone, at least temporarily.
There was a lot of speculation around the internet as to what this Auto Duck to Adobe announcement means. On the one hand Premiere Pro already has some pretty good abilities to interface with both Media Composer and FCP not to mention the Dynamic Link between Adobe tools so what do they need Automatic Duck for? On the other hand Adobe’s recent purchase of IRIDAS means they need to integrate this new color grading tool with existing Adobe products. I would bet that Adobe has watched a lot of the difficulties that users have had over the years going from Final Cut Pro to Color and back again and they want to avoid a lot of those issues. If anyone can make it work then Automatic Duck can.
I was wanting to find out a bit more about this merger so I sent a few questions that I had over to Wes Plate and Adobe. While there’s a lot of things they obviously can’t talk about there is some good information in the Q & A below from Automatic Duck co-founder (and now Adobe employee) Wes Plate. I look forward to seeing what Automatic Duck can deliver for Adobe.
What is the current state of existing Automatic Duck products? Can they still be purchased?
Automatic Duck remains a separate entity from Adobe, but as we transition into our partnership we have temporarily removed our site and are working on an exciting relaunch for later this month.
How do current Automatic Duck customers get support for their existing products?
Customers who purchased an Automatic Duck product will continue to receive support as they have in the past. Until the web site is back up and running I would recommend existing customers reply to their order confirmation email or reply to an activation email. Users who have previously contacted support will also have a support email address they could use. The registration server is still running, so users can still reset and activate their licenses.
The announcement letter says Wes has joined the Adobe Product Marketing team. Is Wes now a full time Adobe employee or is this more a contract basis?
I am indeed now a full-time employee and am thrilled to join such a dynamic team. In addition to the relationships we developed in the ten years of Automatic Duck’s existence I have friendships inside Adobe that go back to my editing days before Automatic Duck. It is exciting to now be able to work directly with these great folks.
I think many people thought of Automatic Duck as being only Wes as they didn’t know about Harry Plate as a co-founder. Will Harry be involved in the Adobe products as well or will his focus be strictly on support of legacy Automatic Duck products?
Both. Harry will play an essential role in ensuring Adobe gets the most out of the technologies we are sharing and will also continue to work with Automatic Duck’s industry partners and support existing customers.
Is this new Auto Duck – Adobe integration going to focus on Premiere Pro as a hub to move between applications? Might be expect direct translation between Adobe products that doesn’t include Premiere Pro?
Adobe’s strategy is all about being open. Our products are powerful and can be used as primary creative tools, but it is also vital that they fit into a variety of established workflows. Our objective is to ensure that interoperability between both our own products and third party solutions is as deep and rich as possible; the partnership with Automatic Duck is just the latest example of this commitment.
Can we expect any new non-Adobe Auto Duck related products?
While Automatic Duck remains a separate company the partnership with Adobe will keep Harry very busy for a while so at this point we are not expecting to be embarking on any new products.