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Celebrating Our Twentieth Anniversary


When we started Synthetic Aperture back in 1996, we didn't give much thought to whether or not we'd still be at it 20 years later, but here we are!

Twenty years ago it was a major accomplishment just to work with standard definition video with the 20 MHz computers of the era. We set as our company mission building tools that would optimize the video and motion graphics work being produced by artists using affordable hardware. "Helping make your work look its best" as our tag line says.

We produced our first product, Video Finesse, to allow color correction and monitoring (waveform monitor, vectorscope) within Adobe Premiere. In an era when there were few affordable color correction tools available, it became our first success.

Looking around at what was holding artists back, we next addressed external video monitoring with our EchoFire product. EchoFire worked with After Effects—as well as any QuickTime-enabled application—to provide FireWire and SDI monitoring on an external video monitor, long before apps included their own video previews. The ability to generate video previews from within ProTools also turned out to be a big hit with film composers since it allowed them to get rid of their bulky and slow 3/4" U-matic VTRs.

Then it was time to return to color correction on a more serious basis so we created the Color Finesse plug-in, which debuted at AE West in 2001. One of the first real desktop color correction systems, its full 32-bit floating-point color engine took advantage of the ever increasing processor power just as the industry shifted to HD production. Starting with After Effects 7, Adobe has bundled Color Finesse LE with all copies of After Effects giving us a large base of enthusiastic users. Color Finesse has continued to evolve and is now at version 3.

Always looking for problems to solve, we then took some of our video monitoring technology from Color Finesse to create our Test Gear plug-in, which provides a waveform monitor, vectorscope, histograms, and other badly needed tools for use within Adobe After Effects. Test Gear continues to be the solution for those After Effects users who ask "where are the scopes?"

But enough about the past. For the future we continue to pursue the same goals we started with in 1996: creating tools that let artists do their work better. With some new products in the pipeline, we're excited to see where the next twenty years takes us.

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