A very sudden event over the weekend and full marks to Craig Seeman on our Forum for being the first to report the news. Technicolor have withdrawn their Color Assist plugin and Color Assist Looks packs from sale. The plugin was a custom built grading tool that ran in Final Cut Pro X and other applications.
When we saw the news that Craig had posted early on Saturday morning, we were pretty shocked. It was only a few months ago that we sat down with Technicolor at NAB and filmed a demo of the plugin working on FCPX.
The post on the company website is brief:
"To our valued customers:
Color Assist and Color Assist Looks are no longer available for sale. There will be no new updates to the product, but for our existing customers Technicolor will provide customer support through September 30, 2013. Technicolor will also offer a refund to any client who has purchased in the last 30 days.
We appreciate all of our loyal customers and remain committed to developing new and innovative ways to address your needs. We’re excited about other new initiatives that we have in the pipeline and look forward to announcing those in the coming months. Stay tuned…
Well, we were obviously very curious and did what any website with any journalistic value would do - Fire off emails to everybody within Technicolor that we knew to get more information. We have heard nothing back. Maybe that is to do with the timing of the announcement over the weekend.
So what happened?
Mark Dobson notes on our Forum that they had recently sent round a survey and maybe the outcome of that had led to the product being withdrawn. Other speculation on the Forum includes the technology being bought or licenced for use in an NLE, a Patent conflict or the knowledge that a new feature within FCPX might make the plugin redundant. As Technicolor only announced support for After Effects last month, we think the latter explanation to be the most unlikely. We have a simple explanation too.
They didn't sell enough to make it worthwhile.
We are no 'grassy knowlers' and for us, normally the simple answer ends up being correct. The R&D, marketing and support for a product from a large company costs a lot of money. This is no fly-by-night plugin writer who works from a bedroom. If product sales don't hit targets, they get canned.
It is not the first time a colour correcting plugin for FCPX has been released to much fanfare only for it to recede back into the shadows. (Sorry, not often you get the opportunity for a grading gag) Tonalizer from Irudis had great reviews, but then everything went very quiet including their website which was down for long periods of time.
It is obvious that the majority of FCPX users won't part with hundreds of dollars for a set of plugins, but are quite happy with plugins that cost tens of dollars. Has the abundance of free plugins and the plethora of cheap looks packs made the grading plugin market difficult for anybody to make a decent return on their investment? If a company with a name and pedigree like Technicolor can't do it with a $99 plugin, then nobody can. If we are right about the reason for withdrawal being a budgetary one, then there is a lesson to be learnt here for all plugin developers.
We of course would love to see the Technicolor curves appear in FCPX, maybe we might get some more information from Technicolor when everybody is back in the office on Monday. If anybody has extra information, then please add it in the comments below.
Whatever the reason for the plugin's demise, we are sad that it has been withdrawn. Only a few moths ago at NAB, we had that great demo.