FADE IN: NewBlue Founders Bring FX Catalog to Mobile Video Platform

7/6/11Follow @bvbigelow

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were able to take advantage of years spent developing desktop video editing technology. “We are the No. 1 provider to the desktop video editing market,” Grey says. “It’s hard to believe that plug-ins can be a viable business, but there are a lot of video editors out there.”

The couple made other course corrections as well.

“Once we decided to pursue this very aggressive attack on the mobile space, it became evident that we needed to change NewBlue’s model from a virtual business to a geographic-based one in San Diego,” Grey says. Today NewBlue has 27 employees, including 10 at its headquarters in San Diego’s EvoNexus incubator, and two software development groups in Russia.

The couple says they moved here from Seattle in 2003 specifically for the quality of life in San Diego, and because of San Diego’s proximity to new media hubs in both Los Angeles and Silicon Valley, which is within an hour by passenger jet. After settling into San Diego’s La Jolla neighborhood, Fay says they intended to operate as a virtual company, chiefly because they were “very much inspired” by Thomas L. Friedman’s 2005 book, “The World is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century.”

“We planned to take advantage of the virtual economy,” Grey recalls, “so initially we were focused on the people we knew could do the job, and so we had employees in Seattle, Illinois, and Texas.”

Developing mobile apps on a tight schedule, however, led them to make NewBlue more of a geographically based company. “We really couldn’t have found a better place than San Diego because [mobile] is happening here,” Fay says. At the EvoNexus incubator, operated pro bono by San Diego’s CommNexus industry group, chairman Kevin Hell says the team that reviewed NewBlue’s application “saw a proven team of people who had done it before.”

Fay, in particular, also sees an “incredible parallel” in the potential democratization of digital video and a revolution in digital music that he traces to the 1982 New Wave single, “She Blinded Me With Science.” Fay says the British musician Thomas Dolby embodied “the democratization of the music industry” by producing the song at home, using musical instrument digital interface (MIDI) technology.

At that time, Fay says the music industry was dominated by major record companies that gathered musicians in studios equipped with costly audio production equipment—just as filmmaking today is dominated by major companies that require extensive capital, film crews, and expensive studios. Now Fay says if an under-capitalized filmmaker wants to create an “earthquake” special effect, NewBlue can supply a piece of its “motion effects” software that can make that happen.

With Vibop, Grey says, “What we enable you to do is automatically stabilize your mobile video, shine it, and share it. We took that vocabulary that is natural to us and put that into software, so that when you shoot your son’s soccer goal, it will fade in at the right time and fade out at the right time.”

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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