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Adobe acquires cinema tech, staff from Iridas

The Speedgrade technology and employees will help Adobe grapple with new video grends including 3D, color, HDR, and raw video.

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Adobe Systems will beef up its digital video software through the acquisition of technology and employees from Iridas, the company announced Thursday.

The company's video software--Premiere Pro and After Effects--are geared for higher-end users, and the company is investing heavily in them at the same time that videography is democratizing. The arrival of video SLRs, most notably Canon's 5D Mark II, has brought relatively affordable gear into the hands of a much larger audience.

The Iridas Speedgrade software offers the ability to refine video in a number of ways, notably what's called color grading, which can shift a video's color tones to give a particular look. Think of the greenish cast of the Matrix movies, for example. Color grading is popular as a way to impart mood and emotion to video.

In its news release, Adobe also said the acquisition will help with perhaps the most obvious trend in video these days, 3D.

"With the addition of Iridas, Production Premium [a suite including Premiere Pro and After Effects] is expected to gain a comprehensive set of tools so video editors can manipulate color and light for any type of content, including professional film and television," said Jim Guerard, Adobe's general manager for professional video, in a blog post. "Enhanced color-grading is a top requested feature by our Production Premium customers."

The Iridas asset acquisition also will help Adobe with HDR (high dynamic range) and raw video, Adobe's Todd Kopriva said in a blog post. HDR photography and videography is a hot and fast-developing technique that attempts to capture details in both shadows and highlights, something that's technically tough. Raw video uses the unprocessed data from a camera's image sensor, which can offer more better dynamic range and color than what's been processed in the camera. Raw imagery requires more after-the-fact processing, though.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, and Kopriva wouldn't comment on specific details of how the technology will be incorporated.

As cameras have moved from film to digital and computers have become more powerful, digital video has become accessible to many more people. Apple, with its Final Cut software, fueled the trend and capitalized on it.

Adobe once scrapped its Premiere Pro software for Macs, but it reversed course and now is been fighting hard to do better against Final Cut Pro.

Adobe is claiming big success. "Demand for Adobe's Production Premium CS5.5 video content creation tools has exploded, growing 22 percent year-over-year," the company said in a statement. In addition, the software has seen "45 percent growth on the Mac, fueled by the large number of Apple Final Cut Pro customers switching to Adobe Premiere Pro."