London-based company The Foundry has blown the visual effects market wide open with the development of a software program that will allow editors and compositors to use 'plug-in' visual effects from any company on any finishing system, writes Farah Jifri.
Marking the beginning of a worldwide industry standard for plug-in development, OFX (OpenFX) is a new software layer that allows plug-ins such as wire removal tools or lens flare effects and applications like Discreet's Flame or Adobe After Effects to "talk" to each other for the first time. Until now plug-ins - also known as sparks - were developed for specific NLE systems.

"With widespread adoption of OFX, we will end up with a more unified plug-in market. So end-users will be able to choose what they want and need rather than what is available," said Bruno Nicoletti, a partner at The Foundry.

OFX will be made available under an open licence that will allow other plug-in and application developers to include it within their products free of charge. The Foundry stands to make no direct money from the innovation, which took some 12 months to create and was developed in conjunction with a host of other "sparks" makers.

Nicoletti was inspired to create OFX following an idea from Tom Benoist at Interactive Effects and in response to numerous requests to adapt The Foundry's plug-ins to fit different software products. Nicoletti has worked on the software in his spare time over the past year with input from several other plug-in and application developers such as Eyeon Software, Nucoda and Discreet.

Plug-ins are small software modules that can add a specific effects feature to a larger software program. They are used to achieve a whole range of effects within TV from animating reflected light rays seen at the bottom of swimming pools and removing stray wires from a shot to improving foggy images and adding blur, swirl and droplet effects at the click of a button. They are so called because they "plug in" to NLE software and operate as if they were a part of it.

The Foundry will launch its first OFX products at NAB in April.

The OFX standard will also be supported by 2d3, D2 Software, Eyeon Software, Greystone Digital FX, Interactive Effects, Komkom Doorn and Nucoda with products expected later in the year.