GenArts Pitches Sapphire Edge and FX Central to a Wider Market
Company Takes Aim with an Affordable Suite of Tools, a Looks Portfolio and Browser Previews
Does that mean it is abandoning the pro market, as it’s widely assumed some other, larger companies have done recently? Not at all, says Hays. "Our goal is to democratize the power but also the quality of our tools, which we’ll continue to develop and expand at the high end, for every video creator who cares about the same things. These are people who care about the same things that Hollywood and high-end broadcast and major post houses have cared about for years: how do we drive audience engagement and how do make our content popular? Visual effects are one of the many tools that help any video content do that. They now touch 80% of what you see on television or in the movies."
GenArts has looked even more closely at how visual effects actually drive audience engagement and purchasing intent. "We compared a commercial spot, both with and without effects, for a national sneaker chain," she says. "The spot with effects increased purchasing intent by 12%. Anecdotally, most retailers are lucky to get 1 or 2% and consider that a game changer. So 12% is phenomenal impact."
Beyond adding effects for their own sake, Hays adds, pairing the right look for the right demographic is equally important. That’s why she includes the new analytics engine driving that data for users as one of the three cornerstones of GenArts evolving business. "We can recommend which look a customer should use, given their targeted demographic, geography and the project itself," she says. "It marries the art and science of audience engagement" and is just as important as the effects engine at the heart of all GenArts products and the company’s Looks Porfolio, the library of pre-built looks available through its one-month-old beta site FX Central. "By leveraging the same effects and analytics engines for all of our markets, we can have the highest investment in R&D and deliver top-quality looks, regardless of price point."
Sapphire Edge and FX CentralGenArts rolled out the first product to result from this widening focus, Sapphire Edge, in late June. At $299 list price, Sapphire Edge aims straight at that growing middle of motion graphics artists. What makes this new 64-bit package for Final Cut Pro (including FCPX) and Sony Vegas Pro unique is the way you can scrub through and try out the 350+ presets or transitions included in the suite. A real-time preview browser (seen above) lets you hone in on a desired effect and quickly customize it without getting too deep into complex controls. Edge buyers also receive a free one-year subscription to FX Central, where GenArts daily curates new looks created by some of its top-tier Hollywood customers and specialists working on a variety of targeted vertical projects, like regional broadcast sports or wedding videos. The subscriptions cost non-Edge users $99 per year and include monthly downloads from FX Central’s expanding library.
Sapphire 6, GenArts’ original pro-level plug-in suite that was rebuilt in the GPU-enhanced version 5, is due out in September. While Hays says that release will confirm her company’s commitment to this core group, she also thinks GenArts’ original customers will find plenty of rich inspiration scrolling through FX Central’s stockpile of pre-built looks. "They will still likely be more inclined to create their own signature look from scratch in Sapphire, but when deadlines are tight, we want to give them as many visual sources as possible. A pre-built look might trigger an idea for something more complex."
Hays also hints that a product appealing to an even broader consumer market — following this broader strategy to its natural conclusion — will be released in early 2012.