Steve Jobs leaves Apple, and thus ends an era. Apple, and therefore Steve Jobs, have had a huge influence on the film and television industry, especially in the area of post-production.
From his first era defining personal computers, to his second era turning the company around, Steve Jobs and the design team he lead allowed for the democratization of our industry. It is true that today much is done on non-Apple machines, either Linux or Windows, but think back on some of the key contributions Apple has made.
• The rebel Mac unit at ILM showed that personal computers could be used for visual effects
• Photoshop, while cross platform, led to a much higher percentage of penetration of Macs proportionally in our industry
• Final Cut Pro helped move offline editing from specialist edit suites to the rest of us
• Shake – good and bad – defined years of film compositing
• Pixar, funded and co-founded by Jobs, redefined feature animation. One can’t help but feel that while Disney bought Pixar, effectively the reality is that creatively Pixar took over and saved the soul of Disney. When Jobs took over Pixar it was not the industry legend it is today – it was a medical imaging company that made great Siggraph short films.
• The iPad and iPhone redefined the game, and there is hardly a film set around in commercials, film clips, episodic or features that doesn’t have a bunch of Apple products in the pockets of the crew, on the laps of the clients, or in front of a data wrangler, DIT or visual effects supervisor.
So what now for Apple? Will Apple continue as is? Will the June 1997 Wired cover find a new meaning? It is hard to remember just how down Apple was before Steve Jobs returned with NeXT. Will it become more consumer-based and less focused on the professional market? Will Tim Cook steer the company differently? Certainly Steve Jobs is still a presence, he is not dead, he will become the Chairman of the Board, but it is hard to not feel as if we are seeing the end of an era.
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