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Adobe acquires Mixamo

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015 | Posted by Jim Thacker


Animations created by importing Mixamo content into Photoshop CC 2014. Adobe has just acquired the online animation platform with the aim of integrating its core technology into future releases of Photoshop.

Adobe has acquired online animation platform Mixamo with the aim of integrating its technology into future releases of Photoshop. Existing Mixamo services will be migrated to Adobe’s Creative Cloud.

Mixamo: a brief history
Since its foundation in 2009, Mixamo has done a lot to make 3D animation more accessible to non-specialists, particularly those working in the world of indie game development.

Beginning as a service for blending motion data from an online library to create custom movements, then retargeting them to existing rigs, Mixamo has gradually expanded into a one-stop shop for character animation.

More recent additions to its portfolio include online tools for creating and automatically rigging custom characters, and generating levels of detail. It even created its own markerless facial mocap plugin for Unity.

A good fit for Photoshop?
That philosophy – to make the creation of professional-quality 3D content a semi-automated process – fits pretty well with Adobe’s stated aims for Photoshop.

In a blog post announcing the acquisition, the company notes: “Our research tells us that one of the most in-demand skills for designers is 3D, but using it is just too hard with the current tools and technology.”

Adobe began the process of expanding Photoshop’s 3D capabilities with last year’s CC 2014.2 update, which added the ability to import 3D animations in Collada format.

At the time, the functionality was pretty limited: while you could scrub through an animation, and reposition or relight the character, you couldn’t modify the animation data itself within Photoshop.

That sounds like it may be about to change: in its blog post, Adobe says that it plans to use Mixamo’s technology to enable Photoshop users to “create, customize, manipulate, rig and animate 3D content”.

Animation for designers rather than animators?
For 2D designers looking to expand their skill sets – or simply to be able to take on jobs that involve a small amount of 3D work – Mixamo’s technology looks set to give Photoshop a welcome boost.

But clearly, that doesn’t mean that Photoshop is going to replace specialist animation software any time soon.

As a point of comparison, the software has been able to import static 3D meshes since CS3 was released in 2007, but you’re unlikely to meet anyone doing serious visualisation work in Photoshop alone.

And indeed, in its blog post, Adobe rather glosses over Mixamo’s core market – indie game design – in favour of more modest applications of 3D: creating packaging, product concepts and manufacturing prototypes.

So what happens to existing Mixamo users?
If you’re an existing Mixamo user, whether the deal is good news or bad news depends on your point of view.

On one hand, Adobe is a major international company with a lot of marketing and development resources: not surprisingly, the aspect on which Mixamo chooses to focus in its own FAQs document.

On the other, it’s a publicly traded company with a duty to its shareholders to maximise efficiency – which has sometimes led to past acquisitions being discontinued as separate products, or quietly mothballed.

For the minute, Adobe is migrating Mixamo’s services to its Creative Cloud platform, and isn’t selling new subscriptions or a la carte services until the process is complete.

If you have a subscription plan, you get full access to all your existing services until 31 December 2015, since Adobe is automatically extending active plans until the end of the year.

Whether pricing or service changes will follow after that remains to be seen, but for the minute, there’s good news – at least for more casual users.

Mixamo has extended its free accounts to include 10 Auto-Rig downloads and 20 animation downloads, on top of existing offerings such as unlimited use of the Fuse character creator and auto-rigging of Fuse characters.

Read more about Adobe’s acquisition of Mixamo on Adobe’s blog

Read more about Adobe’s acquisition of Mixamo on Mixamo’s blog

Read Mixamo’s FAQs document

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