On twitter this week we posted that Assimilate had settled with Autodesk over the long running law suit.

We also heard that Lucas Wilson – for many the public face of Assimilate – had moved on to 3alitydigital.

Luckily, we also discovered that an old friend of fxguide – Steve Bannerman had left GenArts to join Assimilate as VP of Marketing- we so figured we would hit up Steve to find out just what is the story with Assimilate, with Scratch and we started by asking him why he left GenArts to join Assimilate?


Steve Bannerman: Two reasons a) I’m really interested in expanding my scope beyond the vfx component of the post-production process. It’s really interesting to focus on the entire process from image acquisition and dailies through what has traditionally been referred to as DI to image output. Assimilate is one of the few companies that really adds value along the entire chain. Since SCRATCH is built on such a robust data management platform, it’s sometimes used for individual components of the post process (for instance, Company 3 is using SCRATCH for the dailies on Pirates of the Caribbean on Stranger Tides), but we’re just as often used for finishing (such as Offhollywood’s use of SCRATCH on Rabbit Hole). Folks like Localhero Post have built their entire business on SCRATCH. I’m really enjoying the top-down perspective.

b) RED, ARRI and other digital workflows have really changed the landscape and Assimilate is really well positioned to lead in the market. I was really prescient of Jeff and his team to commit to RED so early on, and it’s really paying dividends now. The data management platform under SCRATCH is ideal for file-based workflows, and its modular architecture makes it very nimble and adaptable. I’m really excited about the future of SCRATCH, and I’m thrilled to be part of the team that’s shaping it.
fxg: Assimilate recently settled with Autodesk – what does that mean for Scratch – will it affect the product or its price?

Steve Bannerman:I can’t speak directly to the settlement except to point you to what was written in our joint press release. I can say, however, that we’re excited to be unencumbered and able to get back to the business of building great products that deliver maximum value to our customers. The features and pricing of ASSIMILATE products have been, and will continue to be, driven purely by our customers and the dynamics of the market. ASSIMILATE has always had great communications with our customers. They form a close-knit community that is very active and very vocal. They’re great at telling us what they need, and we’re aggressively focused on channeling that energy into great products and demonstrably better value than anyone else in the industry.

fxg: Sorry to push but in the Agreement it reads “ASSIMILATE acknowledges that it used code and design elements from Cyborg in its SCRATCH product. ASSIMILATE apologizes for such use.”
What code was from Cyborg?

Steve Bannerman: Again, I can’t comment on anything about the settlement beyond what’s written in the press release.
fxg: Scratch started (and is still very popular) as a data management station – a Hub for a digital production. Do you see it moving towards more complete grading OR more effects OR more on set?

Steve Bannerman: Great question. We see SCRATCH as a suite of tools that are highly competitive as stand-alone components, but best of breed as an integrated pipeline. SCRATCH’s core value proposition is built around:

1) Highly optimized data management: things like the ability to work with native RECODE RAW .r3D files at any resolution, or the ability to manipulate data in a non-destructive way throughout the pipeline
2) Stereo/3D: since stereo is actually part of the entire workflow, stereo versioning can be done in real-time.
3) Performance: with things like debayering of full resolution .r3d files (we were the first to support dual RED Rocket cards), and incredibly fast conform oral sex speeds, SCRATCH offers performance that is suitable for client-attended sessions.
4) We’re well known for delivering outstanding price/performance value to our customers.

On top of this platform, we’ve built great tools for dailies/playback, conform, color grading and finishing. Looking forward, we’re really focused on:
a) Ensuring that we do the above four things (i.e. our platform) better than anyone else
b) That we continue to improve the tools built on top of that platform
c) That we take advantage of the changing dynamics in the industry. Things like more and more functionality moving on-set, or more folks needing “round-trip” functionality with NLEs, and even the fact that alternative devices such as iPhones and iPads are becoming an integral part of the production process.

We believe that the modularity of SCRATCH, the fact that we do data, stereo, performance and value really well, coupled with the nimbleness of our company make us ideally positioned to lead in this evolving market.

fxg: Could you name some recent Scratch productions?

Steve Bannerman: Sure. Some recent features include:
Pirates of the Caribbean on Stranger Tides
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Tron: Legacy
Rabbit Hole
Fair Game

fxg: So stereo is shaping up as an important area for Scratch and Assimilate?

Steve Bannerman: As I described above, stereo/3D is one of our core competencies. We believe that stereo should not be treated as a “feature” but as a full workflow. Artists should be able to use SCRATCH with the same features, the same UI and the same performance whether they’re working in 2D or stereo. And they should be able to seamlessly switch back and forth between them.

fxg: Will Assimilate be at NAB?

Steve Bannerman:Absolutely. As we always do, we will be in a suite at the Renaissance hotel. Additionally, we’ll have a stand at IBC, and we’ve renewed our sponsorship with Creatasphere, so you will see us at REDucation events around the world.

fxg: Thanks Steve and welcome to the new job

Steve Bannerman: thanks – Happy Holidays!


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