In Wondertouch Acquisition, GenArts Adds Fizz to its FX

GenArts, the Cambridge, MA-based visual special effects startup, has added sparkles to its glints.

Which is to say, it has acquired a small St. Louis, MO-based company called Wondertouch that specializes in software that generates so-called “particle-based” special effects—think fireworks, explosions, smoke, clouds, comets, and pixie dust. Executives at GenArts say the technology nicely complements Sapphire, its own library of special effects, which is strong in area like flashes, lens flares, lightning, and glowing auras.

Along with Wondertouch’s technology, the Cambridge firm is acquiring its founding visionary, Alan Lorence, who will become a full-time developer at GenArts. Financial terms of the acquisition aren’t being disclosed.

Alan Lorence, Founder of Wondertouch“We’re really excited about this acquisition, as it fits GenArts from a number of angles,” GenArts CEO Katherine Hays told Xconomy. “First, particle technology has been a gap in our technology portfolio, and one our customers have been asking for. Second, Wondertouch has over 10,000 customers, and it’s a quite different group from the GenArts customer base in many ways, so it allows us to reach a broader set of customers. Finally, it allows us to bring Alan onto the team, which we couldn’t be more excited about.”

Increasingly these days, the special effects seen in movies and TV shows aren’t generated from scratch, but are built from customizable components provided by companies like GenArts and Wondertouch; these companies are in some ways the modern-day equivalents of manufacturers of fine-art oil paints such as Winsor & Newton. The Wondertouch acquisition will give GenArts customers single-stop shopping for a larger variety of special effects, Hays says. After some planned integration work—and the coming launch of a version of Wondertouch’s Particleillusions effects library that is compatible with Adobe’s widely used After Effects software—effects artists will have … Next Page »

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Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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