Last October we were pleased to welcome Rory McGregor to the team as General Manager of ftrack Australia. Having been friends with Rory for a long time prior to our acquisition of Cospective, we were thrilled to welcome him on board. Below, we speak to Rory about his time at Cospective, and how he’s leveraging that expertise to take ftrack into new and exciting places.
Can you please tell us a little about your background?
I started out playing bass guitar in bands but quickly became more comfortable behind the mixing console. After a while, I moved into sound for film and ended up as a sound editor, recordist, re-recording engineer, and facilities manager. One day a couple of school friends approached me for my opinion as they had a beta software application that allowed post-production and VFX personnel to share and review video in sync with anyone anywhere in the world. I said it sounded awesome, quit my career in film sound post, and helped develop and commercialize what eventually became cineSync, initially as cineSync Product Manager, and later taking over as CEO of Cospective.
General Manager, Australia, ftrack
Can you tell us about your time at Cospective?
Cospective originally started as Rising Sun Research, the sister company to a VFX house called Rising Sun Pictures. The first software product was called cineSpace. It was a tool for calibrating monitors to match one monitor to another, but also to help match a monitor to another output, as with a film projector. cineSpace started around 2000, and cineSync followed a few years later, around 2005. Cospective sold the IP for cineSpace in 2011, and it ultimately ended up at THX. The cineSpace crew all left, while the much smaller cineSync team – of which I was a part – stayed on.
It was a tricky period, with some difficult economic headwinds and an awful AUD/USD exchange rate. Still, it was also around that time that we ended up winning an Academy Award for cineSync’s contribution to the industry. That win gave us a good boost, so we hired an extra couple of team members, added a bunch of new features to cineSync, developed our online review platform Frankie, and we never looked back!
In 2018 we won an Emmy and we were able to take the whole team and their families over to LA for the ceremony, which was brilliant. But still, my biggest highlight was a cineSync account for Twin Peaks: The Return, purchased with David Lynch’s credit card. I was so blown away that David Lynch was using cineSync that I made my young daughter watch part of Lost Highway. Hopefully, it didn’t scar her for life!
Since then, ftrack acquired Cospective, and you’re now a part of the team! Can you tell us a little about the acquisition?
We’ve been partners with ftrack since 2014, and throughout the time we’ve worked together, we’ve built a robust integration between our platforms. In 2016 we shared a booth at NAB for the first time, and it was a pivotal moment. Both ftrack and Cospective had their entire teams in Las Vegas, so it was an excellent opportunity for everyone to meet. It was around then that we realized just how closely aligned our companies were, not only on a technical level but as people. We’ve enjoyed several tradeshows (and dinners) together since!
We’ve been approached about potential acquisitions several times in the past. However, we’ve always had a sense that the potential acquirer was more interested in our tech than anything else – that as soon as they had access to it, they would pull it apart and incorporate it into their other products and cineSync would no longer exist. We’ve seen it happen to many other companies, and it always seemed depressing.
With ftrack, it was clear from the beginning that it was about more than just stripping Cospective for parts. We have a shared vision and goal, and we both respect our staff and our customers. We both want to take what we have and build on it, not tear it apart or dilute it. The deal allows us to do things with cineSync that we couldn’t have done alone otherwise. We have access to more resources, new markets; it’s an exhilarating prospect.
Why do you enjoy working in the creative industry?
I have always been in awe of creative people – those that can create new ideas out of thin air. I love experiencing concepts that would never have occurred to me if someone hadn’t created it, whether it’s cinema or music, or walking around an art gallery. It’s a thrill to be challenged by new things.
Even though our work is more about problem solving than creating, it’s always exciting to be around the talented, imaginative, and sometimes unusual people that this industry attracts. Those are my kind of people!
What are your primary responsibilities as General Manager of ftrack Australia?
I cover a few different areas. Firstly, I continue to oversee the product management and worldwide sales of both cineSync and Frankie. Secondly, as the Adelaide office takes on more responsibility for ftrack sales and support, I will be overseeing ftrack sales for the Asia Pacific region. My third main area of focus is on new development, specifically around the integration between cineSync and ftrack and finding new workflow solutions to make the best of the tech we have.
What are you most excited about regarding the future of ftrack?
This combination of the Cospective and ftrack teams presents us with a real opportunity to do something inspiring. I’m a big believer in interactivity in collaboration – not just leaving notes for people to read, but being able to have quick, productive conversations, to give clear instructions and make fast, informed decisions. The ability to share ideas, to check concepts, to distribute visual information, and to be able to discuss it all live, is vital in maintaining clear communication. The combination of the ftrack, cineSync, and Frankie platforms gives us all the tools we need to be the best collaboration platform in the industry.
If you could give someone new to cineSync one piece of advice, what would it be?
cineSync is a straightforward tool – it does what you expect it to do, with a minimum of fuss. My only advice would be, if it doesn’t do what you expect, or what you need, let us know! We’re always keen to make cineSync more useful, so all feedback is welcome. We love working with our customers to build innovative solutions that make sense to them and the work that they do.
What are your interests outside of work?
Music and film are big parts of my life. Now that my daughter is older and a bit more independent, I’m enjoying getting back into live gigs, checking out new bands (and revisiting some of the old ones). I’m also finally able to show my daughter some of my favorite films. We just recently worked through a list of classics, including Die Hard, Predator, Terminator 1 & 2, Fury Road, Jaws, etc. – and she loved them all! My wife and I enjoy trying out new restaurants, and we like traveling as a family and experiencing new things. At home, I have a large garden, and that keeps my weekends reasonably busy!