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Jan 29th, 2021

Celebrating 12 years of CrumplePop

We’ve been making tools for video and audio editors for 12 years.  It sounds like a long time, and it feels even longer, thanks to the astonishing transformation that this industry has undergone since we started out.

I first started thinking about making video plugins 13 years ago, while I was lying on a stranger’s couch in an old house in Madison, Wisconsin.  I had just driven into town for a video shoot, and throughout the afternoon people would filter in and out of the room, wondering who I was.  But I was staring at the ceiling, thinking about plugins.  Two things were clear to me at the time: 1) I still had half a pizza left over in the car, which I had gotten at a strip mall on the way into town, and 2) there was an opportunity to make some good plugins for video editors.

At the time, the Canon 5dii camera had recently been released, completely transforming the world of video.  Prior to the 5dii, if you wanted your video to have a nice shallow depth of field, you needed to buy (or in some cases, build) a device called a “shallow DOF adapter”.  This would attach to the front of your video camera and focus the image onto a piece of vibrating ground glass.  These were ingenious devices, and launched a whole bunch of small companies that build gear for video people.  When the Canon 5dii came out, you could finally get shallow depth of field from a DSLR – it was revolutionary and exciting.

On the postproduction side of things, Final Cut Pro 6 and 7 were the workhorse editing applications that most people used.  I had been using Final Cut Pro actively for years, and I was very familiar with it.  As someone who used FCP every day, I was surprised by how few plugins were available for it.  Even a simple plugin for making nice lower thirds, I thought, would be really useful.  And if it would be useful for me, it would be useful for other editors, too.

Back in Minneapolis, I pitched the idea to my coworker, Jed.  He thought it sounded good.  We worked in a small storefront in south Minneapolis, across from an abandoned pizza parlor.  The space was big enough for three desks and a large pile of bike tools spread out on the floor.  Jed was something of an expert at assembling nice single speed bicycles from parts that he found in the trash.  He had learned some unusual techniques that would be frowned upon by the community of professional bike mechanics.  But they worked, and this was the spirit that animated the development of our early plugins.  Minneapolis at the time was a treasure trove of old bikes from the 70’s and 80’s, to be had for almost nothing on Craig’s List.  In between building bikes for ourselves and friends, we built our first plugin for Final Cut Pro – a pack of lower thirds templates with a crumpled paper look.  We called it “CrumplePop”.

We began to get a trickle of orders for our “CrumplePop” product.  It was enough to rent another tiny office space down the street, offered to us by our magnanimous landlord, Paul.  Paul was an accomplished commercial photographer who liked to do things “south Minneapolis style,” as he put it.  I was never totally sure what this meant.  But no matter what creative ways we found to inhabit his buildings – like, for instance, creating a mountain of broken bike wheels – he would just shake his head and say, “you guys are funny”.

We decided to name the new business CrumplePop, and – more importantly – we expanded the team to include two of Jed’s friends from school, Pat and Sara.  At the time, all I knew about them was that Pat had encyclopedic knowledge of American cultural trends, but what got him really excited was talking about different types of fast food tacos.  Sara was quiet, but everyone seemed intimidated by her ability to figure out what was worthwhile to pay attention to.  It was a good group.  And it still is.

12 years later, the world of video production looks totally different.  The tools to create nice-looking video are now pretty easy to get your hands on – even on your phone.  But nice-sounding video? That’s a different story.  A few years ago, we saw that there was an opportunity to make audio restoration tools that could really help people to make better videos and podcasts.  So that’s what we did, and we have a lot of really amazing stuff coming.  It turns out we’re just getting started.