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Imageworks tools deal with Foundry

Duo move forward in field of software tools

Sony Pictures Imageworks and software maker the Foundry have struck a technology-sharing agreement that marks a significant step forward in the standardization of visual effects software tools.

Under the pact, Imageworks will adopt the Foundry’s compositing software, Nuke, and the Foundry will gain access to Imageworks’ proprietary lighting software, Katana.

The Foundry is a spinoff of Digital Domain, which originally developed Nuke, and DD still uses the software.

Industrial Light & Magic and Weta Digital have also adopted Nuke. With Imageworks as the fourth major vfx studio to adopt Nuke, the software is well on its way to becoming a de facto industry standard.

Apple’s Shake had been a major competitor to Nuke but Apple discontinued it earlier this year.

Bill Collis, CEO of the Foundry, told Daily Variety: “The most likely course is (Katana) will be integrated into Nuke over time. Nothing dramatic is going to happen in the short term, but over a period of years, we’ll incorporate these Katana technologies into Nuke.”

The shift toward industry-standard tools supports the production-staffing model Imageworks is embracing, where artists are hired for individual projects and released when the show is over. Such an approach requires a pool of artists who can step in to work on short notice without extensive software training.

With Katana becoming part of a commercial product, many more artists will have the opportunity to use it before being hired by Imageworks.

The Foundry plans to release a new version of Nuke, incorporating Furnace plug-ins and other features, before year’s end.

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