Tweak is bought by Autodesk

Tweak Software, the makers of the RV player, are joining the Shotgun team at Autodesk. Autodesk has acquired outright Tweak’s team and technology. The combined teams will work side by side with the Shotgun team to integrate their review collaboration tools further with Shotgun and also other Autodesk products such as Maya.

RV was already closely associated with Shotgun from years of combined marketing and trade show sharing but until today there was actually no financial link between the two companies. Not that the founders of both companies had not considered it, but nothing had ever come of the discussions. Once Shotgun became part of Autodesk, Shotgun's Don Parker was asked what Autodesk should do next to expand the footprint of this new part of Autodesk's interests. For Parker, Tweak was the first and most obvious choice. Tweak is just an eight person team but the RV player is the front end to so much of any project's evaluation. Seth Rosenthal, President and co-founder of Tweak explained, "it is used not just by artists but by everyone - directors like to use it to review shots."

rv5

RV is at its heart an image and sequence viewer for VFX and animation artists, as such it is used around the world. The software is used by most major companies, ILM, WETA, MPC, DD, Framestore and many others, but it is also being used by smaller companies, especially when working with remote teams or creatives. RV is a high-performance, hardware accelerated, and supports professional production pipelines. It adapts to most workflows. Currently the software runs on Windows, Mac and Linux, and integrates with most tools such as Nuke, Maya, Shotgun, Deadline, and Qube.

Tweak Software and Shotgun have already teamed up to build a review pipeline, Screening Room combines the performance of RV's media engine and the collaborative, connected, cloud-based approach of Shotgun's production tracking, and the new team are now looking to expand upon this, with a more aligned code software base. They point out that the software is so central that any delays in review and collaborative 'dailies' process is "very expensive to any production", so performance and efficiency is vital for any new implementations.

Don and Seth at Autodesk's offices on Friday in LA
Don and Seth at Autodesk's offices on Friday in LA

The deal is both enabled by Shotgun being already a part of Autodesk and the independence Autodesk has given the Shotgun team. The application Shotgun still supports Foundry products and has not been dissolved into Autodesk, in fact sources inside Autodesk point to the learning curve Autodesk has had learning from Shotgun, especially in relation to their client and social media relations. It is hard to imagine the independent and distributed Tweak surviving in the open inside Autodesk without the companionship offered by the Shotgun team.

Tweak will no longer be used as a division name but RV will remain very much the product name and will certainly benefit enormously from the vast boost in sales and after sales support that Autodesk can offer. Born from production it is fair to say the Tweak team has always been better at making killer programs than marketing them. Tweak has no one primary office, the key members work from home and the company is an example of low overhead innovative modern coding and programming style companies, focused on one primary market with robust targeted user lead tools.

Shotgun has worked closely with them for years, as it made sense for the Shotgun tools to be integrated with RV, but Tweak customers are not limited to Shotgun customers. The Shotgun customers would be in the majority, not minority, according to Parker.

A young Don Parker with
A young Don Parker with Alan Trombla 5 years ago at Siggraph
Early RV + Shotgun Tradeshow
Early RV + Shotgun Tradeshow (Siggraph 2010)
Still joint marketing at NAB 2012
Still joint marketing at NAB 2012

The whole Tweak team is joining the Autodesk Shotgun team, and the original team will still lead the new unit. According to Rosenthal there is now considerably more resources being devoted to R&D, with improved installation and licensing being at the top of Parker's list of engineering priorities: "We just have to make it one button click - easy and simple to install and license," he comments. But Rosenthal is also keen to expand the tools, especially into areas that might be called associated design segments, while nothing is yet ready to roll out, the two discussed that the issues that these teams face are all very familiar and similar to the issues faced by their film and effects clients. 

In terms of sales and contracts, existing Tweak support contracts won’t change and current customers will continue to be serviced by the same Tweak support team (but now part of Autodesk). 


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