Wow – I’m the product manager of a 20 year old software application. Sometimes I have to remind myself of that just to put things into perspective. How many applications do people use (let alone depend on for a living) that have been around 20 years? It’s a phenomenal challenge and a great source of pride that I have a dramatic impact on not just the future, but the legacy of such a well known part of many people’s lives, all over the world.
I can’t walk into an airport, sit on the couch in front of the TV, have a pint at a bar or even walk down the street without seeing the result of what people do with Ae. I love it. Obviously there is the ego boost, but frankly, I LOVE what people do with Ae. I love how they push it, break it, bend it in ways we never even imagined. In fact, it makes my job extremely fun as the innovation that we focus on for the future of Ae is watching what people do with it. The creativity and inspiration I see in what people make with Ae fuels OUR creativity and inspiration of what to build in Ae. It’s completely symbiotic, and makes working on the product a blast.
For me, I have never been an Ae artist, which is ironic that I have made a living around Ae for the last 11 years. In fact, I went to school for audio production as part of Radio Broadcasting at Algonquin College in Ottawa, Canada. I also had been a self-taught Macromedia Director / Lingo script guy and started a company with a designer buddy which was focused on ‘multi-media and all things cool’. Naturally – this is where Ae first entered my life around 1996. Ironically though – it was not to use it.
Creative Shack (the name of the company) was located in the local Ottawa TV station (CTV’s CJOH) main building, and a good mate of mine was one of the editors / motion graphics artists down the hall. Back then, beer and video games were primary drivers of mine (and my geek friends), but this specific guy ALWAYS had tons of time to play multiplayer games (while we had to work if we still wanted to have clients). Funny thing was – he WAS working, but played games on other computers while he was ‘rendering’ in Ae. To me, this was completely NOT FAIR (as he could drink more beer and play more games thereby completely kicking our asses in multiplayer shootem-ups). This lasted for several years.
Fast forward to 2002, Creative Shack is now sold to another company, and I am working on another startup with it’s bent in high performance computing. GridIron Software was a crazy science project with me and another few creative geeks that were looking at network and parallel computing in a different way (A longer story than this blog post can accommodate!). Naturally, remembering getting my ass kicked by my Ae artist friend due to render time made Ae a natural target of some of our crazy science projects.
To that end, I wound up forming some great relationships with some absolutely stellar folks in Seattle who helped guide those original science projects into plugins that GridIron released called Nucleo, and Nucleo Pro for Ae. It was then that I was fully exposed to the world of motion graphics and visual effects, along with the fantastic users of Ae who were most definitely not afraid to speak their mind (a VERY VERY good thing, IMO).
Hard to believe that getting my butt whooped in video games back in 1996 would lead to working on the best software team in the world, and on a product that during those plugin days, I fell fully and completely in love with.