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Blackmagic buys both Ultimatte and Fairlight

2 minute read

Shutterstock/RedSharkAnother IBC round of acquisitions for Blackmagic Design

Blackmagic Design has a track record of unveiling new products at NAB and new acquisitions at IBC, and this year is no exception with the highly significant announcement that it is the new owner of both keying specialist Ultimatte and legendary audio pioneer Fairlight.

In the world of high finance, hedge funds and financial asset stripping, business take-overs have been tarnished with a less than stellar reputation; typically seen as a way of making quick money, often at the expense of the original companies, and especially their employees.

Not so with the latest acquisitions by Blackmagic, which were announced a few seconds ago.

Blackmagic has bought two venerable companies, both with extraordinarily high reputations for their technology and products.

Ultimatte is quite simply the industry standard for hardware keying. While it's perfectly possible to key in post production, in live shows, there is no post production. So keying has to be done right first time. This is Ultimatte's niche: making keying hardware that can be set up and left to "just work" day after day.

The company's keying expertise goes back decades but their latest product range is bang up to date.

Fairlight is a name that's quite simply legendary in the pro audio industry. Like Ultimatte, the audio company goes back many years, all the way to the original Fairlight CMI sampling computer. Fast forward to today, and they have ultra modern technology based around their "Audio Engine", an FPGA-based audio processing core that can handle 1000 tracks simultaneously.

They also have some extraordinarily good physical control surfaces that lend themselves to modular architectures.

We're told that the ink on these agreements is barely dry, so it's too early to speculate what this might mean for Blackmagic, except to say that both Ultimatte's keying and Fairlight's audio both compliment and add enormously to Blackmagic's core capabilities. Already strong in live video production, Blackmagic will immediately benefit from Ultimatte's keying technology. It's almost a perfect fit. And - up to now - Blackmagic hasn't delved too deeply into audio, with just one product, the single rack unit audio monitor - representing their adventures in audio. This is just about to change dramatically. Fairlight's audio tech goes wide and deep, with applications in all areas but especially strong in post production audio.

We obviously don't know any detail about the acquisitions but it's easy to see how this will be a good move for the purchased companies as well as the purchaser. Blackmagic brings industrial design, manufacturing and marketing skills on a global basis. They have a worldwide sales organisation. And they know how to price products to make them sell in the volumes that justify a worldwide infrastructure.

There's no doubt that this is exciting news. All the current products from Ultimatte and Fairlight will continue unchanged. We may have to wait a year or two until we seen new products coming from these transactions. But we sense that they will worthy of some very close attention.

The Ultimatte news is big. But how about this: Blackmagic is now a Pro Audio company.



Image: shutterstock.com

Tags: Business