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After Effects On The Mac: Adobe Weighs In

Five Questions with Steve Kilisky, After Effects Product Manager By Kevin Schmitt
Just in case you've been vacationing in a cave for the last few weeks, Apple's recent introduction of Motion was one of the splashier news items to come out of NAB. Since then, many have pontificated (myself included) about what Motion's arrival could signal for the Macintosh motion graphics/compositing space in general and Adobe's plans for After Effects on the Mac in particular. To help clear things up, Steve Kilisky, Adobe's Product Manager for After Effects, sat down with us recently to respond to a few burning questions.

Kevin Schmitt, DMN: Apple caused quite a stir at NAB by announcing Motion, which sparked rampant speculation about Adobe's plans for future development on the Macintosh platform. Could you comment on that generally?

Steve Kilisky, Adobe After Effects Product Manager: There will always be this type of speculation whenever you have a platform developer getting into competition with its software developers. In this case, I can state that Adobe intends to maintain After Effects' leadership position on both the Macintosh and Windows platforms. Our Macintosh installed user base is quite large, and our Mac sales are strong. This clearly warrants continued development on the Macintosh.

While the Apple demos of Motion were interesting, we did not see anything that we perceive as a threat to the long-term viability of the After Effects business on the Mac. I think it will be much easier for us to respond to the interesting bits about Motion than it will be for Apple to replicate the depth, breadth, and versatility of the feature set in After Effects.

We have been successful in maintaining our market leading position against other competitors. As long as we continue to listen to our customers as well as add innovative new features, I see no reason why our business will not continue to thrive on both the Mac & Windows platforms.

DMN: Can you say definitively whether there will be an After Effects 7 for the Mac?

SK: There will be an After Effects 7 for the Mac. We will continue to develop our product for the Macintosh as long as the Mac platform remains viable in the markets we address with After Effects.

DMN: How is the After Effects situation different from what happened with Premiere in terms of your commitment to the Mac platform?

SK: First, its important to remember that Premiere Pro is based on a completely new code base and is not simply an evolution of the old Premiere product. The Premiere team was starting with a clean sheet of paper and had to assess the Mac market and determine if there was a business case to support the development work required to offer a cross-platform product. We would have liked to have a Mac version of Premiere Pro (and have many customers wanting one), but could not justify the development expense compared to the market opportunity. After Effects is already a cross-platform product, so the incremental development cost to stay cross-platform is very minor compared to what Premiere Pro would have to pay to become cross-platform.

In addition, while Premiere holds a leadership position on the Windows platform, After Effects' is recognized as the market leader on both Mac and Windows. This puts us in a more favorable position relative to our competitors than the situation Premiere faced on the Macintosh platform.

DMN: Motion, even though it's not being billed a direct competitor to After Effects, might manage to take a chunk out of Adobe's Mac market share anyway. Do you see this as a possibility, and how does Adobe intend to address this potential situation?

SK: We spoke with hundreds of After Effects customers at NAB, and not one who sat through a Motion demo indicated that they saw anything that would cause them to stop using After Effects. Did they see features that they liked about Motion? Sure. However, their response was that they want to see these features added to After Effects as opposed to being compelled to switch to Motion. Also, given the recommended system requirements of Motion, the $299 price is not as affordable as it first seems and many users will be forced to buy new systems to use Motion in the way it was being shown at NAB.

DMN: Apple competes directly with Adobe on a couple of fronts in the professional creative space, and indirectly in others. Now Microsoft, with the purchase of Creature House and the subsequent release of Expression 3.3 for free, is competing with Adobe against Illustrator. (Microsoft has also attempted to compete with Adobe on other fronts as well in the past.) How does Adobe perceive these moves by platform developers, and what's the long-term strategy for dealing with them?

SK: There is always a constant evolution in the software market, as companies add features, create new products, change prices, etc. Adobe has thrived for more than 20 years by concentrating on its core competency helping people and businesses communicate better. As long as we continue to focus on that, Adobe will continue to deliver outstanding products. The interesting thing about the platform developers competing with Adobe is that at the very same time we may be competing fiercely in one area we might also be cooperating strongly in another. For example, while Adobe and Apple compete in the video market, we are also partnering with them in the design and publishing markets where our Creative Suite is a huge driver for Apple's continued popularity across the creative industries. This form of mixed cooperation and competition (nicknamed "co-opetition") is simply a natural outcome of large companies working in similar markets there are bound to be overlaps. Ultimately, this is good for consumers because they get better products at better prices.

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Though the fame, riches, and notoriety of being a DMN contributor are both tantalizing and substantial, Kevin Schmitt still stubbornly insists on continuing his work as the Director of Interactive Services at EFX Media, a production house located just outside of Washington, D.C. Feel free to follow his updates and contact him through Twitter if you have something to share - he's ready to believe you!
Related Keywords:adobe, after effects, motion graphics, compositing, adobe after effects, apple, motion, premiere, nab, microsoft, expression, creature house

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