Adobe acquires Mixamo as one more building block to 3D

Adobe has been increasing the 3D intelligence of its flagship products and with the company’s acquisition of Mixamo, it pledges to add new 3D capabilities to Photoshop. 

Adobe offers this video as an example of the ways animated characters might go to work in Photoshop. (Source: Adobe)

Adobe announced the acquisition of Mixamo in a blog post on June 1. Mixamo is a small company, so it will come as no surprise when we tell you the details of the deal were not revealed. Founded in 2008 by Stefano Corazza, Mixamo came out of Stanford University and Corazza’s Ph.D. work. The company has an ingenious product line and approach to their customers. They sell rigged characters and mo-cap moves. Mixamo’s business model is a hybrid of product and service and also a mixed cloud-and-client approach. Customers can design characters and assign moves using the client-based Fuse product and the cloud-based component handles the heavy lifting. The company had just released their Mixamo 2.0 product with new pricing models and faster workflows. The company says their online Mixamo product has been optimized for speed – it’s 10x faster. Content can be customized and customers can create their own animation packs. In addition, the site has been revamped to enable customers to maintain their assets, animations, and auto-rigging all in one place.

Mixamo supports the Unity engine and the company’s new bulk download and export will enable much more efficient work for all game engines.

The company has been selling its products with different levels of subscription including a services subscription for large customers. The company claims to have thousands of paying customers and has Eidos, Behavior Interactive, and Gree as corporate customers. We believe most of the company’s customers are individual subscribers.

The company was charging $50 per auto-rigged Fuse character. With the release of Mixamo 2.0, the company switched to offering characters for free, but it continued to charge for animations.

So maybe Adobe will be able to make use of all that work the company has done to streamline and speed up their products. Adobe is getting a young talented staff with links into the game development community.

In the announcement of the acquisition, Adobe says they have found that 3D is one of the most in-demand skills for designers. 3D skills are in-demand in the design community because 3D skills do not necessarily go hand-in-hand with design talent. In reality it’s not that hard to find 3D artists and it’s not that hard to find Photoshop talent but it’s hard to find people who are adept at both. Adobe would like to change the status quo. Adobe’s engineers have been gradually adding 3D capabilities to Photoshop, and Illustrator to a lesser degree.The company cites the work they’ve done to enable 3D printing and improving compositing as an example of the work they’re doing on this front.

Adobe pledges to increase the 3D capabilities of Photoshop and make 3D easier to use. The company says it will integrate Mixamo’s technology into Photoshop which will enable designers to create and animate 3D characters. Adobe says the deal will enable them to create a platform for more 3D innovation.

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A wise observer of the 3D industry we’re not going to identify for obvious reasons said, “Wait, Adobe, makers of Photoshop and Illustrator, says 3D is difficult?”

If you have ever tried to learn these tools, you’ll be A. impressed by how powerful they are and B. driven mad by the idiosyncratic interfaces and workflows. Mixamo on the other hand really is fun to use. It’s easy to while away an hour or two creating a character for fun and it’s an obviously useful tool for game developers. Now, Adobe can provide new workflows. Though we’re kinda hoping we don’t see a proliferation of animated gifs as the result of this deal.

By the way, as an interesting aside, TechCrunch says Mixamo got around $11.8 million in four rounds of funding from Keynote Ventures and Granite Ventures.