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Why Profound Effects is Committed to Scripting in Effects Products

By Perry Kivolowitz
With the introduction of Useful Things(tm), Profound Effects, Inc. is at the leading edge of what it believes is a strategic inflection point in the world of special effects technology. That is, the mainstreaming of scripting in effects products and specifically, the addition of power-ful scripting capabilities within effects plug-ins.

Scripting Defined Effects products typical of today offer the user the ability to modify parameters and controls to varying levels of sophistication. The vendor decides what parameters will be made available to the user. The playground, if you will, which describes the total extent of the users ability produce to new effects is defined by what parameter control the products User Interface affords.


Scripting, on the other hand, provides access to parameters (often including internal controls) from a programmable environment. Relationships between these parameters can be defined that are far more sophisticated than is possible with (virtually) all user interfaces.

Scripting often makes it possible for entire alternative user interfaces to be created, providing specialization or optimizations which were not envisioned by the original authors.

Indeed, the most important benefit of scripting is the ability for the foremost experts on a particular technology, its users, to extend the capability of the product beyond that provided by the products creator.

Progressive thinking companies such as Profound Effects, Inc. recognize that users are (more than) qualified to know what users want. Scripting means that products continue to grow, evolve, and meet new challenges unknown at the time the product was created.

Scripting From A Historical Perspective Scripting is not new. In the succeeding paragraphs I will give a brief indication of the concept's entrenchment in the computing fields at large.

For our purposes, I'll define the beginning of scripting to coincide with the creation of the UNIX operating system. From its earliest incarnation, versions of the UNIX provided a command line oriented user interface known as the ?shell. Borne shell (sh), Korn shell (ksh) and C shell (csh) are examples.

Shells possess meta-commands which are in fact programming languages. Meta-commands are commands which dont invoke programs directly but rather modify how a shell invokes programs. Conditional expressions (such as ?if file foo exists, delete it), looping constructs (such as ?for each file X in this directory, print X), and even user variables (see previous) are all present in UNIX shells.

Very sophisticated applications could be written as shell scripts (where ?scripting comes from). I recall writing an entire ?Master's Thesis Project in a shell script in one afternoon much to the chagrin of the professor who posed it.

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Related Keywords:scripting, compositing, special effects, programming

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