D2 Software’s Nuke Acquired by The Foundry

fxguide has learned that The Foundry has acquired Nuke from Digital Domain. We speak exclusively to Foundry R&D Head, Bill Collis, from his home in the UK. Updated with information from The Foundry. (Story updated Mar 12 22:10 GMT)

As the home page story states, The Foundry has acquired Nuke from Digital Domain. The Foundry had a party in London on Friday to celebrate 10 years of The Foundry and their Academy Award. At this party, it was announced that Nuke was to become a Foundry product and all support, sales and development of Nuke were to move to London. The Foundry has been a leader of high-end plugins for the visual effects market — they are the makers of Furnace, Keylight, and Tinder plugins. They are also the creator and major backer of the OFX plugin standard…plugins that are currently supported within Nuke.

(Mar 22 22:00GMT Update) From the Foundry web site:

“We are pleased to announce that The Foundry will be taking on the marketing, development, sales and support of NUKE. The number of staff in our engineering department is already expanding to ensure we have teams dedicated to both plug-in development and the development of NUKE. As part of this expansion we are delighted to welcome Bill Spitzak, the primary author of NUKE and Matt Plec, formerly of Sony Pictures Imageworks as key members of the NUKE development team. We are thrilled to be adding such a fantastic product to our range of high-end technology solutions and NUKE will be the third Academy Award® winning product to be managed and developed under The Foundry brand. ”

Exclusive interview with Foundry MD and Head of R&D Bill Collis (Mar 21 9:35GMT Update)

fxg: Has Digital Domain bought the Foundry?

BC: We cannot comment on anything at all corporate, but we will be able to hopefully cover the legal aspects in an announcement before NAB.

fxg: Will people be able to buy Nuke from the Foundry?

BC: Yes, the next release of Nuke will be a Foundry product, available from the Foundry and the Foundry web site

fxg: How long has this been in discussion or been a possibility?

BC: A number of months.

fxg: Is this a part of an even larger expansion plan – are there more immediate mergers or expansions?

BC: No, not that I know of, (he laughs).

fxg: What’s the reaction from your existing staff ?

BC: They are thrilled – looking forward to the expansion and looking forward to getting some of our high end technologies integrated into a high end product, we have spent a lot of time fighting various APIs. We were always limited by the API and now we can get direct access and make the best motion estimation and other tools in the industry, they are looking forward to being able to do some great new things.

fxg: Is the Foundry going to continue to support and work on it current of plugins including Furnace and Tinder?

BC: Absolutely, definitely, we are still going to be a plugin manufacturer, there will be no resources taken away from plugins at all. All our existing hosts and all our existing customers

fxg: Is it your intention to support all the current Nuke OS platforms including Linux and OSX

BC: As far as I am aware we are going to support every current platform that Nuke runs on.

fxg: Is it your expectation that there will be any dramatic change in pricing of Nuke

BC: Price is something we really want to review, I don’t expect any surprises but we do want to review our pricing for Nuke bundled with all our Furnace and Tinder plugins. Especially as by NAB we will release Furnace on OFX, and so it will work perfectly on Nuke. If you start looking at a bundle of furnace, keylight and tinder running on Nuke – it can get expensive, so we’d clearly like to review that.

fxg: Is the software going to be developed in the UK, from your current offices?

BC: Yes – it will be done in London and in the current home of our R&D.

fxg: Can the current customers of Nuke expect any sudden changes with things like service contracts?

BC: No that should be fairly seamless. No immediate changes for Nuke, the number one priority for us is to get all our plugins working perfectly with it.

fxg: Will Digital Domain remain a major client of Nuke?

BC: Yes Digital Domain will remain a Nuke house and therefore will become our largest customer. Digital Domain are very keen to see Nuke continue as a very successful product.

fxg: If we could call the Foundry a plugin manufacturer, with this move – wont there be the potential for people to see your work as a conflict of interest in developing plugins for other major compositing packages?

BC: We understand that could be an issue, but we hope not, we hope everyone is adult enough to deal with that and move forward. We remain completely committed to our existing customers on all platforms, and our customers are going to want to see our products available on their systems.

fxg: What do you personally really like about Nuke?

BC: The really important thing about Nuke is that it has been developed by Artists for artists, it has very many good features and one of those is that it is very fast, and it is really production proven. Everyone knows there are a few things around the place that need improving and it is our intention to do those – but generally speaking the core product is very very good.


This is an interesting development, as compositing software solutions at the high end are generally in a state of flux. We’re fans of The Foundry here at fxguide, and are optimistic that this acquisition will be great for the Nuke sofware as well as the visual effects industry in general. Competition in a healthy market generally means better things for the artist.

In June of 2006, Apple announced they were stopping development of Shake in order to concentrate resources on other products. Obviously, Shake is an incredibly robust and mature product and is still probably the most widely used compositing solution in film pipelines. The architecture and SDK allows facilities to create custom tools and fit the app into their pipelines. Still available for sale, it remains a solid solution.

Probably the most stable and mature product development is coming from Toronto-based Eyeon. Fusion 5 was a major code rewrite with both architectural changes and the addtion of numerous creative features. A Linux version of the softwear began shipping in December of last year the company just released a free Learning Edition for version 5.1 of the software.

url(http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/index?id=5561949&siteID=123112,Autodesk’s Toxik) has undergone a long development process and has the resources of a large company to aid its development. The image processing pipeline is designed from the ground up to be a high end compositing solution for film pipelines. Python scripting and its databse provide hooks which allow facilities to integarted it into their workflow. However, from a creative tool standpoint, it is not nearly robust as the other high end solutions currently available on the market and is not currently thought of as an outright replacement for an existing pipeline.

With an update to Adobe After Effects expected in the next several months along with the CS3 products, we may see an expansion of high end compositing features within that product. Version 7 introduced 32-bit and HDR support, opening up the software for even broader use in the high-end compositing market.

D2 Software Background

Digital Domain announced the formation of D2 Software in October of 2002. The centerpiece of their offerings was and always has been Nuke, Digital Domain’s Academy Award® winning compositing software that operates on NT, Linux and IRIX platforms. While the software is incredibly popular among artists who have used the application, and it is certainly being used outside of Digital Domain, it has failed to make major inroads into a large number of other facilities.

On May 16, 2006 Digital Domain was acquired by South Florida-based Wyndcrest Holdings, LLC, a group led by director Michael Bay and investor John Textor. Carl Stork, a long-time senior Microsoft executive and principal of Wyndcrest Holdings, was elected chief executive officer and a member of the Board of Directors of Digital Domain. This led many to speculate that there would be a renewed focus on marketing Nuke to other visual effects facilities.

Current Nuke customers include Weta Digital, ReelFX, Gray Matter Effects, Method, Ascent Media Group, DNA Productions, Sway Studeio, Mikros Image, Filmgate, and — of course — Digital Domain.

fxguide has an in-depth article and podcast about Nuke.