ftrack is acquiring Cospective, the makers of cineSync


They’re joining forces but, don’t worry, your ‘cineSync sessions’ aren’t about to become ‘ftrack sessions’.

In the vital world of project management and review, many VFX industry readers will no doubt be aware of two of the industry’s main players, ftrack and Cospective (developer of cineSync and Frankie).

ftrack, based in Stockholm, announced today that it has acquired Cospective, which is headquartered in Adelaide.

I got a chance to chat to the CEOs of both companies to find out why the acquisition is happening, and what’s changing and not changing with their respective toolsets.

b&a: Why is ftrack acquiring Cospective?

Fredrik Limsater (CEO, ftrack): We’ve worked very closely with Cospective since 2015. We’ve developed an integration between ftrack and cineSync, and we’ve also shared a booth at SIGGRAPH and NAB multiple times. We collaborate with Rory and his team a great deal.

Now, we’re looking to get serious about review. We’ve had our own review tools for a long time, but with this acquisition we wanted to take things to the next level, and Cospective is the perfect partner for that.

That being said, I would like to stress that, yes, the cineSync product is an important factor in this decision, but just as important is the team at Cospective, based in Adelaide. Cospective is not just a product developer but a group of people who we consider to be colleagues and friends. That relationship was one of the deciding factors to go ahead with the acquisition, alongside the clever technology that they produce.

CINESYNC ftrack Studio interface.
ftrack Studio interface.

Rory McGregor (current CEO, cineSync and soon to be general manager, ftrack Australia): From our point of view, cineSync’s done really well over the years. It’s used in basically every facility on nearly every major motion picture that gets made. But we’re always looking to innovate and to create new opportunities; new ways to enable people to interact with each other. When Fredrik approached us, it immediately felt like a great opportunity to take what we do and leverage that using a new platform. For us, that means not just growing our product via traditional post-production review and approval, but via the interactivity through the entire process of making films and TV, from start to end. And in fact, potentially beyond that as well, because ftrack is looking into a number of different and exciting areas.

To echo what Fredrik said, we’ve really liked working with ftrack. Our integration with the platform was a really great fit. And we’re already like a team, culturally. We think about things the same way. We discuss things the same way. We treat our customers the same way. In addition to doing trade shows together, we socialize and enjoy dinners together. It’s not always that you find people in the industry that, company to company, really match. So, this move just felt right.

Secondly, ftrack and Fredrik specifically said that they really respect the products that we create, and that they’re not looking to buy the technology “for parts” to just incorporate into what they’re doing. They want to let us continue doing what we’re doing, to work with our customers and build the product in line with our vision, while also giving us more opportunity to grow and evolve in new ways at the same time.

 cineSync session screengrab from 'Pacific Rim: Uprising'
A cineSync session screengrab from ‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’.

b&a: Usually when things like this happen in the visual effects community, the first things people ask are, is it going to be status quo? Do I need to do anything different? And also, what new things are coming?

Rory McGregor: As far as cineSync customers are concerned, nothing changes at all. From day one, we’re still offering cineSync and Frankie as we always have. You’re still dealing with the same team. Pricing is not changing. Implementation is not changing. Licensing is not changing. We’re not looking to bundle cineSync into ftrack in terms of pricing. You can buy cineSync separately from ftrack, and you can continue using cineSync with other platforms, whether it’s Shotgun or something else. It’s all completely as it has been.

In terms of future development, it’s early days for us to be able to talk about anything that we’re looking to do together. But like I said, it’s really about taking the technology that we already have and leveraging the compatibility and synergy between our two tools. Ultimately, it’s all about the customer, and looking at ways to increase interactivity between artists, directors, producers and everyone else making films. This will be our core aim for any developments tackled in the future.

ftrack and cineSync
ftrack and cineSync already share some integrated features.

Fredrik Limsater: I’d like to echo what Rory said and confirm that there are to be no changes to cineSync or the team. We will continue working with third-party vendors: even those who are ftrack competitors. To reiterate, one of the reasons for this acquisition was, naturally, to gain the domain expertise from the Cospective team to see how they could help to grow the ftrack platform, not for us to take them on and make changes to a winning formula. The team will remain in Adelaide, doing what they do best.

We will even grow the team in Adelaide to support this, from development to support, sales, and marketing. The global ftrack organization is also looking to hire in the US, Europe, and China in 2020. This approach has been key to the whole discussion surrounding the acquisition.

We are, as Rory said, working on a few exciting things which are too early to comment on. But, of course, that will be one of the outcomes of this acquisition. Both the team here in Stockholm and in Adelaide are really excited to work on some upcoming stuff. That’s what we can say right now.

Rory McGregor: It’s worth pointing out that, as we’ve only had the Adelaide office before, we’ve never really had full 24-hour support at Cospective. Now, as we have access to the broader ftrack team around the world, we have access to more resources for development and also to be able to offer full 24-hour support. That’s something we’ll be implementing very soon.

ftrack Review screenshot
ftrack Review screenshot.

b&a: cineSync is so ubiquitous. People just talk about review sessions as cineSync sessions. Are we going to start saying ‘ftrack sessions’ instead of ‘cineSync sessions’?

Fredrik Limsater: No, for us it would be value-destructive to remove the name cineSync. So of course cineSync will live on.

Rory McGregor: It’s funny for us because, when we chose the name ‘cineSync’, we never saw it becoming a verb, as in something you do. You ‘cineSync’ – that’s something we never actually developed ourselves. That came out of the industry naturally and grew into a kind of shorthand. It’s humbling to create a product that people have taken under their wing as one of the standard toolsets and has become something so widely used. It’s been a really nice ride for the last 14 years. So, it’s a good time for us to take that and to really build on it with ftrack. This is a fantastic chance to create new opportunities within the framework of what will remain a very recognizable product.

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