We sit down with Maxon CEO Paul Babb to discuss his incredible role in the Motion Design industry.
Paul Babb is a living MoGraph legend. As the President/CEO of Maxon, Paul has spent the last 20 years building Maxon’s reputation around the world and is widely credited for making Cinema 4D the industry-standard 3D application for Motion Design. In fact, if it wasn’t for Paul (and the Maxon team) there’s a good chance that 3D Motion Design wouldn’t be in the creative resurgence we see today.
Paul’s work has directly influenced the lives of tens of thousands of MoGraph artists around the world. In fact, some people are even saying he should run for president. Crazier things have happened...
One of the things that make Paul so unique is his infatuation with artists in the industry. It’s not uncommon to see Paul at trade shows around the industry chatting with artists and answering questions.
In this week’s podcast episode we sit down with Paul Babb to discuss his role as CEO of Maxon. Along the way we’ll get to know a little bit about Paul's background and talk about why Maxon is ‘artist first’ instead of ‘feature first’ company. This is one of our favorite episodes ever.
- Aharon Rabinowitz
- Rick Barrett
- EJ Hassenfratz
- Nick Campbell
- Tim Clapham
- Barton Damer
- John LePore
- Caitlin Cadiuex
- Mathias Omotola
- Angie Feret
- Devon Ko
- Erin Sarofsky
- Tuesday McGowan
- Erica Gorochow
- Karin Fong
- UC Santa Barbara
- Infinity 3D
- Electric Image
- MediaMotion Ball
- Women in Motion Graphics Panel
PAUL BABB INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT
Paul Babb: Ultimately what it comes down to is, I seriously think the painting is far more interesting than the paintbrush, and so one of the things that I tried really hard to do when we first started doing this was getting people to talk about their work and getting people to talk about how they did it and sharing it with the community, and we really, really, rather than focus on advertising the tool, we focused on pushing what great artists were doing with Cinema 4D, and that was, really early on was a philosophy right up front.
Joey Korenman: If you are a Motion Designer looking to learn a 3D app, it's not even a question. You learn Cinema 4D, right? What else would you learn? In 2018 that is just a silly question, but it was not always that way. Our guest today is a large part of the reason that Cinema 4D is now synonymous with MoGraph, and why it's used in Motion Design studios all over the world, and why a lite version of it literally comes for free with after effects. Yes, I am talking about Paul Babb, president and CEO of Maxon's US operations.
Since joining up with Maxon in the late 90s, Paul has been instrumental in building the brand and the community around Cinema 4D, and in helping the software catch up to competitors that had a very long headstart in the industry. In this interview you are going to hear how a high-school dropout became an actor and then a CEO. Seriously, that is Paul's actual story. It's a really fascinating look at the man and the company behind our favorite 3D app, and a neat look at the history of Cinema 4D. When this episode is over, you too will be a Paul Babb fan, but before we talk to Paul, let's hear from one of our amazing alumni.
Abby Basilla: Hi, my name is Abby Basilla. I live in Mobile, Alabama, and I took animation boot camp back in 2017. It really widened my animation vocabulary, and it sped up my workflow, and it boosted the quality of my work. I'd really recommend School of Motion to anyone who loves Motion Design, but lives in a really remote area. Getting to meet hundreds of different Motion Designers to talk to every day has been so incredible, and because of the networking opportunities that School of Motion gave me, I actually got a job in New York City as a full-time Motion Designer for Frame.io. I'm really excited and really happy about that. My name is Abby Basilla, and I'm a School of Motion alumni.
Joey Korenman: Paul Babb, it's an honor to have you on this podcast. I really appreciate you taking time out of your insane schedule to come talk with me. So thanks, man.
Paul Babb: The honor's mine.
Joey Korenman: I know that. I know that. You don't have to tell me. So let's start with this. So I looked you up on LinkedIn, just to confirm, and you are indeed the president and CEO of Maxon Computer Incorporated, and to be honest, I don't know really what that means because I've met you and I've seen you out at NAB, but when I hear CEO, I sort of think of the TV version of a CEO, and it doesn't seem like that's what you're doing. So I'm curious, could you just tell us what your day look like? What are you doing over at Maxon?
Paul Babb: So Maxon Germany is the parent company, and many years ago they asked if I would be interested starting Maxon US and servicing the North and South American market for them. So my day is typically marketing and sales, mostly. We certainly provide feedback to Germany from customers on how the program's working, what kinds of things people would like to see added. We facilitate the feedback for development, but for the most part, Maxon US is a marketing and sales arm for Maxon Germany. So we do our best to service the US, Canada, Mexico, and the rest of the area market.
Joey Korenman: So the actual app, the coders and everything, they are in Germany actually making the program, and then you're sort of running the US and North America marketing, essentially?
Paul Babb: Exactly. The development team is actually quite virtual at this point. Certainly the original programming team that started it still lives in Germany. I believe one of them actually goes back and forth between Florida and Germany, but for the most part it's a virtual team. So there's people everywhere. There's a programmer in San Francisco, there's one in Edinburgh, there's one in the UK in London. So they're very much a virtual team. They do get together occasionally, but the development team is quite spread out.
Joey Korenman: Cool, that's the way it's happening now. We have developers that have built our site and our platform, and they're actually in Croatia, and we've never met them in person, and it's just kind of normal to do that now.
Paul Babb: That's great.
Joey Korenman: Yeah. Okay, so that makes sense because some CEOs are brought in to be operational and making sure that the mechanics of the company run, but it sounds like you were brought in more for marketing and sales, which looking into your background kind of makes sense. So why don't we start back with your college and post-college education, because I didn't realize this about you until I LinkedIn stalked you that you actually have three degrees in art, including a Master's degree. So what was your school career like? What were you doing there?
Paul Babb: Well, it looks more impressive than it is, but three degrees because actually I am actually a high-school dropout. I dropped out of high school early. I did different things, traveling, did education other ways. The initial degree I have is an Associate of Arts degree. That's a two-year college degree. If I wanted to go to a four-year college I had to have something, either an Associate of Arts degree or a diploma. So I went and got my Associate Arts degree at a local community college and then went on to UC Santa Barbara and did my Bachelor of Arts. And it doesn't necessarily mean that I was studying art. I was studying lots of different things. I was involved in theater. I was involved in business, marketing classes, communications, all that good stuff. And in terms of my Master's degree from UCLA, I was at the end of my time at UC Santa Barbara, I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do, and there was opportunities to continue my education at UCLA, so I went ahead and did that for a couple years.
Joey Korenman: Okay. So I want to take a step back. So you mention you were a high-school dropout. What as the story there?
Paul Babb: I was bored. It wasn't engaging, wasn't moving fast enough for me, and my parents were fine as long as I was either educating myself or working and paying rent at the time. So I think I was 16 when I left, and I did work. I did go to school I took some classes in Berkeley at a community college, and then when I was 18 I did a lot of travel. I traveled around South America. I traveled around the United States. I was in South America for about two and a half months, and just the life experience.
Joey Korenman: Yeah. It's really great to hear that. I've talked about it on the podcast before, but we actually homeschool our kids and don't have total faith and trust in the way education's handled, at least in this country, and it's interesting because high-school dropout, when you say that, you don't think of the image of a really bright, young person that school isn't moving fast enough. You think of someone getting into trouble, and a young Paul Babb, smoking cigarettes behind the gym and stuff like that.
Paul Babb: Well, my brother, one of my brothers, who's just three years older than me, he was at the same high school I was. He also left early, and he has a PhD from Stanford, and he's a professor in Newcastle in the United Kingdom. So same type of thing. We just didn't feel like we were getting the kind of education we wanted. We were fairly bored and definitely somewhat rebellious. My brother was involved in the politics and the newspaper on the campus and got himself in trouble a few times, but it was definitely not because we were hanging out with hoodlums.
Joey Korenman: That's a better story though. Well, okay, so you go to school. Now what were you actually studying in school? I assume a Master's of Fine Arts was focused more on the arts, but what was your concentration?
Paul Babb: Actually, I was an actor for five years. So Fine Arts was in theater, film, and television. So it was in performance, it was in screenwriting, it was in film production, it was in that particular area. So the film, television department. Theater, film, and television department.
Joey Korenman: That's really awesome, and I would love to find your old acting demo reel, which has to be floating around somewhere. So there's something that I- so now when I ask you about being an actor, because I'm kind of fascinated by all of the weird skills that people accumulate that at the time don't seem like they connect much to what you're doing currently. You're the CEO of a company that makes 3D software. But I imagine that some of the things that you learned, at least by acting and being part of that must help you now. Do you see any benefit to having gone through that even though there's not a straight line between that and being CEO of Maxon?
Paul Babb: Oh, there's more connections than you can imagine. Actually, yeah. First off, as an actor, you work, if you're doing it right, you're working your butt off. You are competing against so many people who have just as much talent or just as much to offer as you have. A lot of times, you're not even considered for jobs because of connections and who knows who in that business. It's a tough business. So you're constantly working your butt off to find ways of standing out in the crowd, to network, to get yourself out there, and then on top of that you have to do a job that, whatever you're doing to pay the rent.
My side job or actual more-paying job was I did a lot of freelance work for ad agencies. I did a lot of copywriting. I did a lot of art direction. When I was at grad school at UCLA, I did a lot of Photoshop work because that was in the early days of Photoshop. Not a lot of people knew Photoshop, and ad agencies would pay you a lot to do image manipulation because there weren't a ton of people out there doing it. So yeah, the hard work that you do pays off.
When I got to the end of, to a point where I was making money as an actor, or I had a career but wasn't really getting anywhere significantly, and I was married, and we were talking about "Jeez, we'd love to buy a house one day. We'd love to have kids one day," and sure, I made a concrete choice to switch over, but my day job, working in marketing and advertising started to become as interesting or more interesting than my acting career, and the opportunities were opening up for me.
So when I started doing that 100% of the time, it was amazing to me how, probably not kind to say, but how lazy people in business can be, where they haven't had to have a job and be working and trying to get a career going at the same time, so they're not working as hard as you are. There are a lot of people are happy to find their place in a company, hide in a cubicle and do the minimum to get by, whereas I was constantly driven to want more, and it was easier to get more in the business world because the hard work that I was doing in that particular part of my life began to pay off a lot more, and the more I put my energy, all my energy into my career, there was a lot more satisfaction in terms of the payback for the hard work you were doing.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, and that makes a lot of sense because in the business world I think it's a little easier to show that what you're doing is creating value for someone, and I would imagine as an actor, it's a lot harder to say, "Well, the value I would I bring is greater than the value that other guy who's the same age as me and just as good of an actor would bring."
Paul Babb: Exactly. Exactly.
Joey Korenman: And it's interesting because I think you're right. There's a lot of, especially if you talk about marketing, which is really a field where you have to hustle, like especially to get something off the ground, it takes a Herculean effort. And I'm sure that being a young, upstart actor probably feels the same way as trying to get market share with an unknown 3D software. So your first job that you list on LinkedIn is actually as a copywriter-
Paul Babb: Yes.
Joey Korenman: At an ad agency. So how did you get that job, and then what were you doing there?
Paul Babb: Yeah, that was one of the companies that I had been doing freelance for. I had freelanced for so many ad agencies, in the Westside in Southern California, and that job started out as sort of a, they would allow me to come in and work and do copywriting, and there was some production-assistant types of work thing too where I was running around, keeping things running. And they were very kind in the early days. They would let me go out to auditions and be gone if I had jobs and those types of things. So it was part-time and then it started to get more and more interesting. They started to giving me more opportunity, and that was the job where I did that transition, the Weston Group. And it mainly became- at first I did everything, copywriting, art direction, production assistant, blah blah blah. And when they lost their senior copywriter they came to me and asked if I would be interested in moving up and taking over the senior copywriter position, which is where I ended up there for a few years.
Joey Korenman: And so what were some of the lessons that you learned there? I've worked with a lot of ad agencies in my Motion Design career, and there's a lot of things that I think ad agencies today, they have to change the way they do thing and do things differently, but one of the things that I always loved about ad agencies is that some of the most creative, brilliant people are putting their minds to work to create brands, and these things where it wasn't like obviously a piece of art, but it kind of was. And inevitably, some of the most fun people to hang out with at ad agencies are copywriters because they're all kind of improv actors, or they're always writing a screenplay. They're all kind of entertainers at heart, but then their day job is they'll use that skill to help you feel a certain way about Coca-Cola. So what are some of the things that you learned working for an ad agency, that now, as someone in charge of a brand, I'm sure comes in handy?
Paul Babb: God, there are so many things I learned there. The structure of the company was there were three account executives, the owner of the company, and there were two other account executives, and what I tended to be for those guys was their lieutenant. So they would go into the meetings with the clients, find out what the clients wanted to do, what's their goals in terms of the campaigns or whatever we're going to be doing for them to accomplish, and then I would work with those account executives to come up with campaigns or come up with ways of accomplishing what the client wanted.
And then we would then have to coordinate with the art directors to put together the pitch pieces and all the different ways of going about it. Certainly I learned a lot about putting campaigns together, learned a lot about dealing with clients, learned a lot about, oh, pretty much everything. We were still doing a lot of print placement back then, radio ads, a couple of television ads, dealing with different difficult types of people.
There was a gentleman that worked there who at the time I felt was making my life a living hell, but what I came to find out was he was just incredibly demanding, and the discipline I learned working with him, just to make sure that I had my butt covered and all my Ts crossed and my Is dotted, just to make sure that I didn't run into his wrath was an incredible learning experience. And I actually came to respect him tremendously for it.
Joey Korenman: That's really interesting, because as a CEO that's a decision that you have to make. What kind of leader are you going to be? Are you going to tolerate a certain amount of sloppiness or is it everybody has to do it perfectly otherwise they get publicly humiliated? And there's kind of different styles. So why don't we move into your time as CEO. So let's just start with this. I didn't see a slow progression at Maxon, starting kind of low and then working your way up to CEO. It seems like you came on at pretty high up. So can you talk a little bit about that transition, going from whatever you were doing to now you have this much more key role at a company?
Paul Babb: Well as I said, Maxon was more or less a freelance job. I had been working at an ad agency, and they had reduced me to three days a week or something like that, and they left me some time to do some freelance work, and I had a handful of clients, and people I was doing work for, and one of them was Maxon. I think the first thing I did for them was write a press release. I think there was some assistance putting on some trade shows, like at Macworld up in San Francisco and things.
At some point they invited me out to Germany to do English demos of Cinema 4D, and be at one of these large shows in Germany. I also think it was the higher-ups wanted to meet me, and while I was there they asked if we would like to form a US headquarters for Maxon because they didn't have presence here. And so they said, "Would you like to? If you do that, you can take North and South America. You can help us [inaudible 00:20:03] Cinema out there." They didn't have much going on here at all, so being entrepreneurial and loving the idea, I went ahead, sure. And we started Maxon.
That's why I dropped into the CEO position because I formed the company with them, and just dropped into running it. But that being said I was the first and only employee when we started the company. I think a few months later I had one guy who helped answer phones and do tech support and things like that, and then over the course of a year, another guy here, another guy there, get a little bit of office space and it grew from there.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, and it's really funny because it reminds me of when you first make your first corporation or something. A lot of freelancers start an LLC. When I incorporated School of Motion, and you have to put someone's name as a CEO, and so it's like, "I guess I'm the CEO." Well that's great. So I think a lot of people listening, they've been in this industry at a time when Cinema 4D has always been the 3D app you use. There's not really a question, but you joined up with Maxon, I think it was '97, according to my notes.
Paul Babb: Yes.
Joey Korenman: Which in software years is infinity, right?
Paul Babb: Absolutely.
Joey Korenman: I'm wondering if you can paint a little picture. What was the scene at that time as far as Cinema 4D was concerned?
Paul Babb: Oh boy. Yeah, nobody knew who the hell we were. '97 was yeah, they didn't really have any presence here. We formed Maxon US in October 1st of '98. So October 1st this year will be our 20-year anniversary. There were, as I recall, there were about 30 3D packages on the market at the time. MetaCreations was still around. They had Ray Dream. There was Strata. Did I already say Infinity? Yeah, Ray Dream and Infinity D, Electric Image. There were a lot of 3D packages on the market.
One of the stories I always love to tell is we were doing a trade show, one of the first years of Maxon doing a trade show, and I approached one of my resellers, and we had gotten a lot of leads. We had gotten a lot of excitement, and I went to him because it was me and another guy or me and two other guys. We didn't have a lot of manpower, and I said, "Hey, you want to work these leads with me? We'll put together presentations. I'll come up. We'll travel around. We'll do all the hard work of presentations if you pound the phones and make appointments so that we can go around and do demos and things like that." And he said, "There's too much 3D on the market, and you guys are new and nobody knows who you are. You guys will be out of business in like six months to a year. I don't see you guys lasting a year." I went, [inaudible 00:23:04]. And that was probably in '98, '99.
So it was difficult at first. For a long time nobody had heard of us, and then we were a toy. I think that was the marketing that came from our biggest competitors in the industry at the time was, "Sure, it's really cool. It's really easy to use, but it's not a serious production tool. You can't really do anything of quality or anything with it. It's just a toy." That came about for a long time. People would go, "Oh, you know you can't do anything with Cinema. You gotta use My Imax or Softimage," or whatever. You can't do anything with it. So there was a perception that we had to get past as far as that was concerned.
Joey Korenman: Yeah. I remember those days, and one of the things- I'm sure everybody- so I'm 37, and I think that a lot of Motion Designers my age probably had the experience of, you get to a point where you're like, "Okay, I feel like I need to learn a 3D package," and you're hearing from these older artists, "Well Maya's the one," right? "If you learn Maya, everyone needs a Maya artist," and so you open Maya, and you can't just open it and figure it out. That's a tool you have to learn before you do anything, and then you open Cinema 4D and in ten seconds you can string together something and it makes sense. And so it felt a little bit like a toy in that it was fun. It was actually enjoyable to open and play with. And I'm curious, I know you weren't around for the initial genesis of Cinema 4D, but do you know, was that always the intent, to try and make 3D less scary, less technical, or was that just a happy accident?
Paul Babb: I think it's a combo of both. I think they always wanted to try to make it more accessible. Yeah, you gotta realize, they started on the Omega [phonetic 00:25:05] platform. The original version of Cinema was written for Omega, and so when I first met them, and they had just recently built a completely cross-platform version, that was their lesson. When the Omega platform started to die, when they started to build Cinema [inaudible 00:25:22], "Okay that's never going to happen again. We're just going to build so that we can move to whatever platform is needed. So back then they were one of the first companies that built a cross-platform architecture with very little dependency on the operating system, and in their minds their biggest competitor at the time was LightWave because LightWave was also on Omega. So they had always been competing with LightWave. But yeah, I think they always wanted to make it easy to use. Sure, that was a big deal. Fast, fast was always the thing back [inaudible 00:25:55]. Everybody wanted their 3D to be faster because it was slow. But yeah, speed, but I also think there was happy circumstance
Paul Babb: But yeah speed, but I also think there was some happy circumstance to it as well, because there were just three programmers in the beginning, the two brothers and one other guy, and then they added a fourth around the time I came on. But I think it's also just that they were very good at making tools intuitive for themselves as well. Because, I mean, a lot of times they were doing their own EUI design and those types of things, so they were making it accessible for themselves.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, it definitely worked out. And so in 1998 when MAXON North America was sort of formed, I'm looking at Wikipedia right now, and Cinema 4D was on version 5 at that point. So were you actually demoing it? Are you a Cinema 4D artist too? You got to learn it and go do demos?
Paul Babb: Actually, my first version was 4, V4 was in '97. Yeah, 5 came on '98 ... Yeah. Actually, that was one of the things that they ere impressed by me was, they needed help at a trade show, and I assumed that meant be ready to demo the product, and know how it works as well. But I guess they thought it was more, “Help us get the booth setup, and be there, and hand out pamplhets, and set it up.”
But I went through the process of learning the tool and demoing it. I had been in the industry before, worked for Electric Image, and I knew people, and I knew kind of what they are going to want to see. And I knew, back then in version 5, it was missing a lot of features. There was some truth in, if you were to compare it to a Maya at the time, there was quite a few features that we did not have.
But there was a lot of positives about it as well. It was fast, it was easy to use, it was intuitive. And your [inaudible 00:27:58] was, for a creative person you kind of got this, “This is kind of fun to work in. This is kind of fun to be creative and play in.” So I kind of put together some of my own demo material in order to attract the market that I was aware of, but I knew what they'd be looking for, so I could say, “Okay, this is what it's good at, this is what's not good at.” Those types of things.
So yeah, in the early days. I don't have as much time as I used to have to do it, but I'd say up until about two or three years ago I still demoed the product occasionally.
Joey Korenman: That's great. And I bet that the acting experience, it comes in handy when you're in front of a crowd, and you have to smile, and perform, and all that kind of stuff, so ...
Paul Babb: Yeah. There's been a number of times where I'd been standing backstage with other CEOs, and they're extremely nervous about going out, and doing their song, and dance in front of a crowd, it never bothered me.
Joey Korenman: Well, that's great. It's funny, because I've told this story before, but I mean, I used to do voice-overs a lot, and so that kind of beat the fear of microphones out of me, and to some extent the fear of talking in front of crowds too. Because I would have to do supervised sessions with clients, stuff like that. And it's funny, you never know when that's going to come in handy.
All right, so it's late '90s, and then it's early 2000s, and you're hustling, and you're running around trying to get people to try Cinema 4D and to use it. I think I started using it ... I have to go back in time, but I think it was R8, it was either R8 or R9, and I remember that it hadn't fully caught on yet at that point. It seemed to take a few more years.
So from your perspective, were there certain features that got added that all the sudden everyone was using it? Was there an event? Because to me it felt like ... I know don't, there was a two-year transition where all of the sudden it was okay to use Cinema 4D, and every studio was using it. What drove that, you think?
Paul Babb: I think the biggest turning point was the addition of the integration with After Effects, the export to After Effects, as well as MoGraph, the MoGraph module. The MoGraph feature set inside a cinema. That was a huge turning point, because the ability to press a button and have the stuff that you're creating in Cinema show up in After Effects, and be able to incorporate some really cool 3D work into your After Effects work, and have it coming in multiple passes and channels. So it made the work really easy for an After Effects user.
I think that was a huge turning point for us, and then the next one would be MoGraph, definitely. Because MoGraph is when you talk about fun and playtime. MoGraph is one of the funnest tools to play with in Cinema 4D. You can have a blast with that and feel very creative while you're doing it. Not so much feel like you're programming, or having to fight with technology.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, I mean, that was the feature that hooked me. And once I saw that, and then Nick started to make tutorials about it, all the sudden it was kind of, I'm all in. But the After Effects integration I'm sure, I mean, obviously opens up a gigantic market to Cinema 4D of artists that maybe have never owned a 3D package before. And all of the sudden this, now, one comes with After Effects. It's pretty amazing. And I'm sure a lot of MAXON's competitors were kind of jealous of that relationship, so I'm wondering if you could just talk about how did that happen? How did Cinema 4D get so well integrated into After Effects?
Paul Babb: Well, I can tell you I was very proactive in trying to make the Cinema 4D name synonymous with the Adobe workflow. I fully admit that. Again as we talked early, I worked in the industry. I worked as an art director, and logic being every 3D guy starts out in Illustrator, Photoshop, maybe even After Effects, but they all start with an Adobe product. And certainly if you're into graphic design, you're working with an Adobe product.
So if you can make ... My push with MAXON Germany was constantly, “Hey, let's make this as easy as possible, as seamless as possible for those tools to work together.” Especially in an industry where a lot of companies like Apple, and Autodesk, and some of these guys, are trying to get you to stay in their ecosystem. They don't want you using anything else. They want you to stay in their ecosystem.
So you're kind of dependent upon all their tools, whereas we took a more open approach to it, “Look, we know you're going to use other tools. We know you're going to use Maya Max, you're going to use Softimage, you're going to use Adobe's tool set. What can we do to make it as easy as possible to use us alongside those tools, and provide value that you can't get elsewhere?”
So you've got a tool set, and you've got some things you can do with our tool, that's much easier to deal with us, and we're going to make it easy for you to use other tools. We're not going to try to force you to stay within our ecosystem and make it your life miserable if you try to use another tool. Because that's how you service the art community. There's a ... With a corporate approach, I get that to a certain point, but this is not what we're servicing in this market. We're servicing creatives, and you've got to allow them to be as creative as possible and be as successful as possible.
Joey Korenman: I'm thinking back to when I kind of got into the industry. It's funny, because you said that early on with Cinema 4D you had to fight this idea that it was a toy, it was less than some other package. And it's funny because After Effects used to have that same problem. I worked in Boston in the advertising world, and so there were big post houses there with Flame, and the Flame artist always looked down on the After Effects artist.
Paul Babb: Of course.
Joey Korenman: And so it's kind of funny that After Effects, to think of it as an underdog now makes absolutely no sense. It's just comical, but back then it kind of was that. And I don't know, it kind of makes sense that these motion-graphic-centric tools plays so nicely together, because other 3D packages there's this cultural thing.
If you're into Zbrush, then you hang out on CG society, you make these photo-realistic renders that take 20 hours for one frame, and stuff like that. And that's never been the world that MAXON seem to woo. So Cinema 4D, seems to me, designed for motion design. Even back in the day when it didn't have all the features it has now, it still seemed like it wasn't trying to be, say, a character-animation-centric tool. Or really focused on super high-end architectural previews or something, even though now it can do all of that stuff.
It seemed like it was trying to make it easier to make 3D stuff, and so that's why the peel-the-motion design. Did that come from you, or was there ever a time where you were like, “Well, maybe we should position this as an architectural tool, because maybe that's better for ...”? Did you ever have to pick a lane?
Paul Babb: Well, actually we were given a lot of latitude on how we marketed and sold Cinema 4D in the States and in North and South America. We really kind of went towards, what are our strengths? What features are coming out? What markets do they suit? And for us it made very much sense that the motion graphics mark was a slam dunk.
In the European market they were focused quite a bit on architecture. MAXON is mostly held by a public traded company by the name of Nemetschek. And Nemetschek, most of their holdings are architectural or BIM, Building Information Management, companies. And they saw us as a visualization tool for architecture and engineering, whereas, in the States that's a minuscule part of our market.
We were growing like crazy here in the States building on that motion graphics connection and that community. It did take us some time to ... the folks over in Germany that, you know, about motion graphics. But one thing you have to understand is, this all started with broadcast. Of course, right?
So we're selling the broadcast companies either NBC, ABC or affiliates, or companies that are designing for them. In Germany, at the time, they had three TV stations. Three TV stations, period. And they don't have affiliates, the country is too small. They don't have NBC New York, NBC Chicago, NBC LA, and ... They have SAT.1, SAT.2, that's it. And so for them, they don't see this huge market of motion graphics. They do now, obviously, of course, because it's exploded over in their area as well.
It took about, I don't know, three to five years before it really started to take off there. But if you think about it culturally, they didn't have all these channels, and they didn't have all the cable channels. That was happening here. So the motion graphics market was a huge market, which by the way, I think all of our competitors overlooked as well. I don't think they saw the opportunity that we saw in the motion graphics market.
They were so busily focused on the high-end 3D market thinking that was the be-all-end-all. Well, for us, and I think everybody now sees, [inaudible 00:37:58] even that's a small portion of the market, of the very high-end 3D visual effect stuff that's being done, that compared to motion graphics is not a very big market.
Joey Korenman: I always knew that MAXON was a German company, and that's sort of where the primary company sits, I didn't realize that it was so closely tied to the architecture side. And I mean, now because motion design is just so big, and what you've done, and MAXON's reputation in North America and abroad is so great. I'm sure that it's a lot easier to sort of push features through and stuff like that.
But in the beginning, how would you bring features to your German bosses to integrate? Was there a pushback where they were like, “We don't need that, what we really need is a better tool for simulating bricks.” Or something like that?
Paul Babb: Actually, in the early days it was easier. Because in the V5, V6, 7, 8, 9, we probably had an easier time getting features in back then, because we were a new market. It was exciting for them to have a meeting with ILM and get feedback. So they were very much more opened to getting that feedback from those studios.
After a while, as you probably know, in the industry users are never satisfied. I get that, I mean, it's not a negative it's just that you go, “Oh, this is great. But boy it would be great if it did this too.” And I don't that will ever end, and I think for them, to a certain point, they did get to a point where they had to temper their reaction to people's needs this quickly.
Because back in the earlier days, boy, there were a couple of times when we said, "Oh boy, it'd be great if it had this, this, this, and this." And then a month later they added all that. So in the early days it was easier to do that, but now the program's become very complex, it's become a lot bigger.
I don't know if you've read on, if you saw on our website, that they did announce that they've been doing a lot of core re-architecture to modernize the code and those types of things. And every time they make a change, it affects huge portions of the application. It's a very big complex application now, so things don't move as fast as they used to.
Certainly we have discussions regularly about what markets we're going after, and what they should be doing, what they shouldn't be doing. I think our influence is respected, but I think they definitely do have their own strategies. Certainly we're given a platform to provide that feedback. How much influence we have? I'm not sure, but in conversations I know that if there are obstacles, it has more to do with some groundwork that may have to be laid out before they can do something specific.
Like they'll say, “Hey, we really need this feature, really needs to happen.” And it could be, “Well, we need to finish this part of the cleanup before we can do that, because it affects this, this, this, and this.” So [inaudible 00:41:26] it's not so much ignoring our requests as much as it is, it may require more work than we anticipated.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, and I can't imagine the can of worms that could be opened with an app the size of Cinema 4D. It's probably like pulling a thread on a sweater. And it like, “Oh, I'm just going to pull this thread off,” and then it unravels 10 things. “Let's just tweak the way the color channel works a little bit.” Okay. Well, that affects 17 things.
Paul Babb: Exactly.
Joey Korenman: Yep. All right. Well, let's talk a little bit about one of the coolest things I think about Cinema 4D is, not even the app itself, it's just sort of the community around it.
Paul Babb: Yes.
Joey Korenman: It's amazing. And frankly the Cinema 4D community has sort of swelled to just envelop all of motion design now. I mean, we've mentioned it many times on this podcast, when you go to NAB you go to the MAXON booth. That's sort of where everybody hangs out. And the way that I've kind of seen it change is that, MAXON, I guess as long as I've been paying attention, has always put artists out in front. Check out this artist, and they're going to show you something cool.
But when I came into the industry, software was not really marketed like that. It was always about the features, and the tech. You'd go to a post house's website, and they would have a picture of their edit suite with no editor in it, so you could see their gear and stuff like that.
And I don't know, I think there still is a little bit of that, but it almost seems crazy now the way branding kind of works in the modern market. So I'm curious if you have any thought on why that change? Why did brands start to realize that maybe there's a better way?
Paul Babb: I'd like to think we did it. Because ...
Joey Korenman: Take all the credit.
Paul Babb: I'd like to take all the credit, but-
Joey Korenman: Yeah, that was me.
Paul Babb: ... in the early days everybody would be pushing how great this tool is, how great that tool is. I never thought product reviews were all that interesting, because they are very self-serving. Ultimately what it comes down to is, I seriously think the painting is far more interesting than the paint brush. And artists are inspired by what other artists do.
So when we started doing this, that was really a philosophy that I pushed. Because there was a little bit of an elitist attitude in the industry back then, especially with things where artists were unwilling to share their secrets. When I worked for Electric Image, I was doing a newsletter and wanted to do something similar to Cineversity, and I had a hard time getting artists to be willing to share their techniques, or their tricks that they used with the application.
They'd say, “Oh, no. It took me a month to figure that out. I'm not telling anybody how I did it.” Because they were afraid it was going to cut into their business or ... I don't know. And so one of the things that I tried really hard to do when we first started doing this was, getting people to talk about their work and getting people to talk about how they did it, and sharing it with the community.
We really, really rather than focus on advertising the tool, we focused on pushing what great artists were doing with cinema 4D. That was really early on, was a philosophy right up-front, because I didn't enjoy the way the industry was working that way. It was really much more about the tool.
I mean, Autodesk did a great job at that. I guess it wasn't really Autodesk back then, I guess it was ... Alias|Wavefront, I think it was. Yeah, Alias|Wavefront. Because when they did the Bingo short, Bingo the Clown short, that blew everybody's socks off, and it made you go, "Wow! Look at what you can do with that tool." And that's a great illustration, these short movies, or the work that these artists do, it makes you go, "Wow! I want to do that."
And then you're going to [inaudible 00:45:23] the tool that they used. So I like to think we had a hand in that, anyway, in shifting the industry to a certain point towards more focus on what the artist is doing with the tool rather than the tool. Because that really was a philosophy in the beginning.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, I actually talked with Aharon, who I know you're close with from Red Giant, and he told me that ... Anyone listening, Aharon Rabinowitz's sort of the marketing mastermind behind red Giant, and also one of the earliest sort of motion graphics tutorial people out there. And I learned a lot from him, and he said that when he started making videos teaching people how to do stuff, he would get threats from artists saying, “You're giving away our secrets, you're stealing my livelihood. Stop it.”
And it's kind of hard to imagine that now. So Cineversity is an incredible resource, and how important is the education side of a tool like Cinema 4D? I mean, is that just the way it is when you sell a tool that's really, really complicated and powerful? You have to educate? Or does that just come back to that ethos that you had, “I just want everyone to get excited about what you can do”?
Paul Babb: No, education is incredibly important, 3D is hard. That's the one thing people talk about, Cinema 4D being easy to use, that's a relative phrase. Cinema 4D is one of the easiest 3D packages to use. 3D is hard, if you want to [inaudible 00:47:02] 3D, it's incredibly complex.
And our job to service our customers can't end when they buy the software. Because if they buy the software, and they're unsuccessful with it, then we've failed, because they're never going to come back. And part of our success is repeat business, and those people going out and telling the rest of the world, “Look what I did with this great tool.”
So education was a huge thing. And yeah, you're right, back then nobody was doing anything. Cineversity came about because we were constantly getting that, “I can't find any information on Cinema. I don't know how to do this, I don't know how to do that.” So it really started with, I would tell my tech support people to put together a tutorial to answer whatever frequently asked questions were coming through. So we would focus on the calls we were getting, or the things that people were posting, and it literally just started that way.
It was just, what are the lowest common-denominator questions we can answer right off the bat as a crew? And I got Rick Barrett onboard, he started creating great plugins for things that were not in the application, that could speed up the process. Like ArtSmart, which allows you to just cut and past Illustrator files into Cinema which is something that, you know, incredibly handy.
But now Cineversity is a complement, and certainly probably the best tutorial videos we put out now are the ones when we come out with a new version. Because we can kind of teach people all the new features and those types of things through that. But there are Greyscalegorilla, you guys, there are so many great educational resources out there that we've even thought, “What can we do with Cineversity now?”
Because there are so many people, like you guys, that are doing a better job than we are with that, because that's your business. Our business is getting software out there. So Cineversity may evolve over time, we may still produce tutorials that are needed, but we certainly can't compete with you guys and everything that's out there. But education is hugely important, because 3D is difficult, but it can be taught. And Cinema is the most approachable 3D package out there.
Joey Korenman: Right. It's not quite as simple as Google Docs, or something like that, but-
Paul Babb: No.
Joey Korenman: ... it can be taught. I want to talk about the relationship that you have with sites like ours and Greyscale. I mean, it's almost like, you say Greyscalegorilla it's just synonymous with Cinema 4D and with MAXON. And I know from talking to Nick, and from seeing the booth at NAB, that you and Greyscale have an amazing relationship. You and Brograph, and helloluxx, and now us. You've been amazingly helpful with us. How do you and how does MAXON see those partnerships? Because some companies would be a little bit, I think, more hesitant to be just so embracing and helpful. And really, I mean, you do a lot to push those companies and get them elevated, so I'm just curious where that comes from?
Paul Babb: It's facilitation. Like I said before, we're a sales and marketing arm of MAXON Germany. So we're not setting global corporate policy, but my goals are to get Cinema into the hands as many people as possible. I don't have the resources to put together the kind of content, and the kind of quality stuff that you guys do, or that Greyscale does, or helloluxx. So facilitation is the way I can make that happen.
And if I'm facilitating you guys, then you're putting content out there that I can then send a customer or two, and say [inaudible 00:50:57] customers like, “Okay, now how do I learn this?” “Great. What kind of work are you doing? Oh, you should go try this.”
One way might work better for another person, so for instance, there might be somebody who ... Greyscalegorilla's got some great tutorials, but if you're not a self-starter, you need a school of motion, because you need a little bit of that hands-on, a little bit of adding [inaudible 00:51:18]. Everybody learns in different ways. Yeah, I mean, a lot of other companies might go, “You're stepping on our toes.” But frankly, the more content that it's out there, and the more variety of learning tools that are out there, increases the chances that a new user's going to find what he needs, and he's going to be successful.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, that kind of bring me to something I wanted to ask you. I'm just going to gush for a little bit. So I was told by, I think three people at least, I've been told by multiple people before ever meeting you about how great you are, and how nice you are and helpful. And I mean, this is obviously a tongue-in-cheek question, but CEOs are not always that way, and there is another way that this could've gone where it's you on stage in the black turtle neck presenting the latest version of Cinema 4D to a sold out crowd. But it's the total opposite of that. It's Nick, it's EJ, it's Chad, and Chris, and the amazing artists, Robin, and everybody. So why not insert yourself more into that process? Why we as hands off with that as you are?
Paul Babb: 'Cause I'm not as good an artist as those guys are. I'm in awe of what people can do with Cinema. I'm in awe of what people create, I'm in awe of any ... My mother was an artist and my father was a programmer. So I have a little of both, I have a lot of that, and I took programming classes, so I've had my hands in that. And I took art classes, because I had my hands in that. So I have a little of both. But I don't have the skills that these guys do, and any artist, even not even ones using Cinema 4D, I'm amazing by what creative people can turn out.
So I just blatantly think that they're gonna be more interesting to my audience than I am. People are very nice to me, [inaudible 00:53:27] and everybody at the Media Motion Ball and those guys. Because I'm facilitating those things I get a lot of back clapping as it is. But in terms of what you're saying we're putting that information out front, the artists are more interesting, frankly. Just bottom line, I can get up there and do that, the turtle neck and the cheese thing. But really if I was gonna be introducing anything, it would be EJ and Nick, and people like that. Tim Clappam and all these guys who can do tremendous work, not only do tremendous work, but present it in such a way that makes it look accessible. Makes people watching them go, "Wow, I could do that too." And that's magic, that's an incredible talent.
'Cause there's a lot of artists out there who can't explain how they do things. They do great work, but they can't put it in words, or present it in such a way that inspires other people. These guys inspire other people. So I think that's why I would put them out front before me.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, it is very difficult to find that combo. Someone that is a good artist, but also knows why they're a good artist. Or at least can put it into words enough to transmit that to somebody else. So this would be a good segway to talk about the booth, and everyone listening knows what booth we're talking about. It's the Maxon booth. What's the history behind that? Because I've been to NAB I think three times in the last four years, and I remember four years ago going and seeing the booth. And there was I don't know, 100 people milling around it, and I'm like, "Oh my God, 100 people? This is crazy."
But then this last one, there were times when it was standing room only, and it was packed, and people are cramming into every nook and cranny. How did the booth kinda come about? Why'd you do it? Was it risky? I'm assuming it's really expensive.
Paul Babb: It is very expensive. You know, that's evolved over time. We actually did to product demos in the beginning. Rick and I would get up and do features. Where the artists are now standing, we would stand up there and show people how to use the tool, and we would break things down. A lot of times the material was created by artists. We would work with a different artist to build something for us that looked pretty, but we would focus on the features.
But we found that people were much more interested in hearing what the artists had to say. 'Cause our demos are gonna be somewhat self-serving. Of course we're gonna tell you the product's cool, and we're gonna tell you how the feature is amazing. And the industry was like that. Like you said, people would even sometimes overstate what their product can do when they're standing up there. But we found that the artists were more genuine in terms of the acceptance of their messaging and that type of thing.
So it evolved over time. First we had a few artists, and then we started doing the See 4D Live thing, where we started streaming it from the show. So anybody who couldn't be at the show could watch. And I think that to a certain point created a little bit of celebrity for some of these guys. For EJ, Nick, Tim [inaudible 00:56:42], Barton Damer, John Lepore from Perception in New York. They would show this cool work that they're doing. And I think to a certain point, it created a little bit of a buzz for them. So I think a lot of times that traffic is just, they're hoping to; one, be there so they can watch the presentations and ask questions. Those guys tend to hang out, and give feedback, and answer people's questions. Which they're making themselves accessible as well, which can't thank them enough for.
But it really did evolve over time. And it's really much more of a factor of the cool people we're bringing in. There was a time, I think there was a show, yeah, where I turned around and went, "Wow, we're packed. Oh well, we're got Nick, Andrew Kramer, EJ," all these people there.
Joey Korenman: Right.
Paul Babb: So it's more an event where you have an opportunity to rub shoulders with some of these artists that you have a tremendous amount of respect for. But it really just did evolve from the bringing in great artists to talk about the tool and what they're doing, and again, it's them that added the community that really made that happen.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, I agree. I think it is the community. And it seems very organic too, because of the way that you've kind of set it up. And I know that this wasn't the intent, but what it's become is that to present at the Maxon booth is a big deal. And a big moment for a lot of artists to be asked to do it. I was talking to Kaitlin at your booth who presented this last NAB, and she was telling me how excited she was, how nervous, and it was a big day for her. And it's so cool. and I know that it's just a result of having this idea that the artists, and the work they're doing with your tool is more interesting.
And frankly, I don't know what the right word is, it's just practical. It's a better sales tool, frankly.
Paul Babb: Absolutely. It's interesting too, because in the beginning doing it, it was tough to get people to come out. A lot of people aren't comfortable performing in front of crowds. And like we said, some people can't easily communicate what they're doing to an audience, or communicate in such a way that it makes easy sense to people. So you have to find those people who can actually produce great work and communicate. And early on, there were times, well before we streamed, we would sometimes only have three or four people who just presented the same stuff each day, because we weren't streaming it.
And then when we started streaming we realized oh crap, we've got people watching around the world who are expecting something new every day. So it started to grow from there. And we can accommodate, depending on the show, NAB or [inaudible 00:59:37], we can accommodate something like 18 artists or so, 18 to 20 or something, depending on the number of presentation times. Just recently, Mathias was my special events guy, was kinda going, "Okay, so we have to look through the presenters we've got who wanna come out to [inaudible 00:59:58]." And he brought up this list and it was 60 people.
Joey Korenman: Wow.
Paul Babb: It was like, "Oh man, this is awful." How do you make those choices? You wanna get great content, but you also don't wanna burn any bridges or piss anybody off. But literally it was a tough choice this time around, because we went, "Wow 60 people. Can't accommodate 60 people." So how do you widdle that down to 18 without stepping on toes? And this year, NAB as well, that was one of our tougher choices to make. Especially too, because we've been making a tremendous effort to try to get more women to come out and present, which has been a task. So that sometimes you end up ... If we're gonna get more women out there, that means we're bumping other men out of the presentations. But it's something that needs to be done.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, we've had Angie [inaudible 01:00:56] on the podcast, and we actually talked about that. 'Cause I've heard you say that, I think I heard you say it on another podcast or something that you one day realized, "Hey, let's get some more female presenters." And it wasn't as easy as you thought it was gonna be.
Paul Babb: No, no.
Joey Korenman: So what were you finding? Was it more like I don't wanna get up in front of a crowd and then 100,000 live stream audience?
Paul Babb: You know it's interesting, we had a panel at NAB. I had wanted to do it a year before, I'll tell you how [inaudible 01:01:28]. So we've always been making an effort to try to get women out there. And actually if you look at us, I think over the last few years our percentage of female presenters to male presenters is probably [inaudible 01:01:39] at NAB or Siggraph.
But a couple years ago during Siggraph we were, somebody, a few women got online and we started getting beat up on one of the forums that we didn't have enough women presenting at the booth. And at first I was kinda mad, because I went, "Wow, do you know how hard we're working to try to get women out here? And we've got more women than anybody else." And I was sort of incensed at first. But then the more I thought about it I went, instead of taking that approach, maybe we should think about we are having trouble finding women, how could we facilitate more women to come out and present?
So I thought of the panel, and I was gonna do it last year, but we couldn't find enough women to come out and do it. So we had about a year to work on it, so this year at NAB during my press conference we had a panel with six women, where talking about women in motion graphics, and why the percentages are the way they are. And what we could do to inspire more women into the industry. Or inspire those that are in the industry to come out and present.
And to answer your question about why, well it seems like there were quite a few reasons why. Partly that there are less women in the industry than there are men. Women, even the women agreed on the panel that women tend not to toot their own horn as much as men will. Even to a point where they don't see themselves as experts. So why would they come and present? Because they're not an expert. But frankly, if you're turning out great work, you're an expert. If you're turning out something that somebody thinks looks great, then you're an expert. But there was a lot of criteria that they put on themselves as well.
We actually did record the panel and put it up online so people could watch some of the other things that came up during that panel. It was very interesting. I mean, certainly all the societal and institutional issues that women are having in many industries are true in the motion graphics industry as well. But there's also other factors. But the good news is that one of the women on the panel is doing a lot of teaching right now, and she said that her classes are at least half and half men and women if not more women in some cases. So she was at least giving us a picture that there's a lot more women trying to get into the industry now.
So hopefully people like Kaitlin and some of the other women that we had, Angie, and the people that we've had out to demo for us have inspired some of those women to either get in the industry, or give us a call and come out and present. Because it still is a struggle finding a significant number of women who are willing.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, so we're gonna link to that replay in the show notes.
Paul Babb: Oh, perfect.
Joey Korenman: 'Cause it was really fascinating. My theory has been that there's not been that many female role models doing that, right? You can find plenty of brilliant female animators, female designers, but there's not that many female presenters, tutorial makers. That's one of the reasons I think Devon Coe is awesome, because frankly I can't think of another off the top of my head tutorial personality in the 3D world that is female, and isn't male. And what you're doing with things like the Women in Mo-graph talk, and even just by making an effort to get more female presenters, you're creating new role models. And I think that it's so important. And I can tell you when I taught for one year at [inaudible 01:05:25], the class was about half female half male. So the numbers are changing, but I still think we need more role models, there needs to be more people that you can look at and say, "Oh, they kinda look like me, they kinda are like me, and they're doing something that I didn't think I could do. Well maybe I can."
Paul Babb: Yeah, you're right. Devon is a great example, I'm glad you brought up her name. 'Cause her content is amazing. You've also got Erin [inaudible 01:05:49], who has started her own agency and is turning out incredible work.
Joey Korenman: Oh yeah.
Paul Babb: And she's a great role model for people. We actually tried to get her out for the panel, but she's too busy. And the woman who ran the panel, Tuesday McGowan is a freelance creative director is also an incredible role model. She's done a tremendous amount of great work, and handled that panel extremely well, really well structured. And I think the information that came out was great.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, there's so many. Erin [inaudible 01:06:19], such an incredible studio, and Karen Fong obviously, and Erica [inaudible 01:06:26], and people like that. There's more and more female role models in this industry, and I think it's amazing, it helps everybody.
Cool, all right. So let's talk a little bit about the future for Cinema 4D. School of Motion's pretty narrowly focused on motion design. But I know that A, motion design is kind of changing, and expanding. So what's motion design now, might be totally different in 10 years. But Cinema 4D is also used in other areas. So I'm curious, what are some of the things you're seeing it used on that are kind of at the cutting edge? You know, VR, AR, stuff like that?
Paul Babb: Yeah, there's a lot of VR going on, that seems to be the buzz. And there seems to be a lot of interest from clients in terms of that. My personal feeling is that AR is gonna be the next huge wave. You start thinking about the need for content for AR, there's just so many places where AR can be used. I think once there's a unified delivery mechanism, I mean right now you can look through your phone, you can look through some heavy, crazy big glasses. Something like the Google Glass, which came in a little too early, probably not quite there yet. But the moment there's an ability to deliver content seamlessly and easily, AR is going to be a huge market. Because there's just so many places where it can be used; in industrial circumstances, marketing circumstances, entertainment. I mean think about location types of entertainment where you go to a park, and somebody can put on a movie in the park. It just can be all build in AR. There's so many, I think that's gonna be the new frontier once we get to a point where it can be delivered in an easy way.
But in the meantime, VR, we're seeing a lot more of that being done. I think you're gonna see a lot of melding of broadcast and interactivity. I think that's another area where we're seeing a lot of growth. But yeah, I think there's a big wave coming with AR.
Joey Korenman: I know that this is not necessarily the domain that you're in control of as far as Maxon goes, but do you have to kinda have one eye on the future and kinda be preparing? For example, AR when that becomes a big deal is most likely going to rely on realtime rendering. And Cinema 4D currently works amazingly well with Unity, I think you can literally just import a Cinema 4D file in some cases and get that kinda realtime playback. Is that the kinda stuff that you're keeping your eye on and maybe whispering over the Germany, "Hey, you might wanna look at this."?
Paul Babb: Not only whispering over to Germany, actually yelling as loud as I can.
Joey Korenman: That's awesome.
Paul Babb: We also facilitate to a certain point. Like we mentioned Cine-versity, where we will occasionally put some finances behind building plug-ins that are useful. And this year we actually, I financed an unreal plug-in from Cine-versity. So that is out there as well. So yeah, we've put up tutorials for Unity, we've put up some utilities for bringing things over to Unity. And then this year released an unreal plug-in. So yeah. We're putting our money where our mouth is as well.
I'm definitely making my beliefs known to them, and certainly we've had good conversations. It's not all me yelling at them. We've had great conversations about these things. But in the meantime, we try to do whatever we can to facilitate where we can. So we use Cine-versity for that.
Joey Korenman: What are some of the technological trends with 3D software that you're keeping your eye on? I mean obviously 3rd party renderers and GPU renderers, that's been kind of a big thing in 3D for a while, especially in the Cinema 4D world, because there's now so many really great ones.
Paul Babb: Holy cow.
Joey Korenman: Yeah, it's crazy. But are there other things out there on the horizon that we don't even know to look at yet? Other cool ... Like I see Siggraph white paper sometimes, and it's kind of fun to just peek at them and be like, "What's this? I've never heard of that. Sub D," you know that kinda thing?
Paul Babb: Yeah. You know what, there's a lot of evolution going on right now. There's a lot of new technologies coming out. It's 3D's coming up, down, sideways, all different directions. There's so much new technology out there right now. There's a lot of little small companies popping up and doing a lot of interesting things. At the top of my head right now I can't think of one that I would tout at the moment that I'm really keeping my eye on, but we're kinda keeping our ear to the ground for everything that's out there. And trying to hear what customers are talking about, and what they're looking at, and hoping, how their production is going to evolve. That's part of it as well.
But there's a lot of great little companies out there right now that are doing some interesting work that we basically, because we're not in that kind of position, but we basically will forward that information off to [inaudible 01:11:55], and Maxon and say, "You guys might wanna take a look at these guys [inaudible 01:11:59] very complimentary what we're doing, looks like an interesting piece of technology." And we hope that they'll do something with that.
Joey Korenman: Yeah. Well I mean every version of Cinema 4D that's come out has made my life easier, other artists' lives easier, and it's been really fascinating, Paul, to hear kind of the inner workings of Maxon, and how it all kind of ties together. And everything you said today, it makes a lot of sense to see where Cinema 4D has ended up in the industry. It really is, it's more than just an app, it's also a way of life I guess is one way to put it.
So my last question, Paul, and you kinda mentioned this before, you don't get to get into Cinema 4D, get your hands dirty as often. But do you still get the itch? You're a creative guy, you're not just the CEO of Maxon. You're an actor, and you've done copywriting and design. Do you still get that creative itch, or is your role as the head of this marketing arm of Maxon, is that satisfying enough?
Paul Babb: No, I do seriously get the creative itch in many directions. Yeah, I have to admit I do far too many financial reports, I do more financial reports than I ever dreamed I would be doing. Certainly as the company has gotten bigger I've learned and had to pick up a lot of skills, and tools, and things like that, that had not been on my bucket list. But yeah, I definitely get the creative itch. I scratch it in a multitude of ways.
I have been diving into the new version of Cinema, because some of the features have been looking really interesting, and more powerful, and more complex. So I've had to put time into it just so I have a good understanding of what's coming. But yeah, I do find ways of getting out there occasionally.
Joey Korenman: Well I've seen T-shirts at NAB that say, "Paul Babb for President." But I think maybe a more realistic goal is to have you present at your own booth at NAB. You know? Just for old time's sake.
Paul Babb: Yeah, that was the [inaudible 01:14:16] and EJ, I think there was some conversation online where they came up with that. And all I gotta say is I don't think I could do any worse.
Joey Korenman: Seriously, this is like my favorite part of this job, getting to talk to people like Paul Babb. It was super cool to get to talk to him about his story, about Cinema 4D's past and future, and everything else that he shared. You know, in the interview I talked about role models, and I know that I'm not alone in saying that Paul is truly a role model in the industry. And someone who deeply cares about the artists and the studios that use Cinema 4D. And you heard him, Maxon is looking for more female presenters. So if you've got the goods, reach out to them, and maybe one day you'll be up on stage at NAB or Siggraph with your work, and your voice being streamed all over the world to 3D geeks everywhere.
Thanks a million for listening, I hope you enjoyed this one as much as I did.
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