Get with the programmers
The kings of format support make compatibility look easy… although they’re starting to drop some standards
Last time we interviewed you – about ten years ago – we asked if the DirectX plugin format had a future. Do you have any idea what proportion of users are using it?
GJ “Actually, we released our latest plugin, Late Replies, without DirectX support. Apart from a few people using antique sequencers, nobody needs DirectX plugins anymore! This will be probably completely dropped in the future for other plugins, too. We’re also in the process of dropping RTAS, because maintaining older machines to support Pro Tools 9 and earlier is becoming more and more complicated these days – even if compatibility remains extremely important for us, it is important to focus on the future.”
With this and your plugin hosts, you might be the master of plugin formats. How do you translate your plugins across the same formats?
GJ “All Blue Cat Audio plugins are written with a very simple, minimal ‘format’. A shell for each plugin format has been built over the years, and it glues the pieces together with the specifics of each format – with limitations and additional features, too. We actually have an SDK that we licence to third parties. A couple of great audio plugins out there have been built on top of it.”
When creating a plugin host like Patchwork or MB-7, what steps can you take to make sure your ‘host in a host’ remains stable?
GJ “Testing, testing and more testing! Despite enormous efforts, you can always find a new plugin/host combination that will cause trouble. Fortunately, many developers are doing a great job and fix such problems quickly, because in most cases there’s not much we can do on our side: hosts within hosts are between the hammer and the anvil! And it’s also a moving target: system, host and plugin updates happen all the time, so you have to keep everything up to date and verify compatibility on a regular basis.”
Your Remote Control plugin could have a future as an Android/ iOS app, making it a truly remote experience. Is there a reason you’re not heading down this path?
GJ “Developing and maintaining apps for these devices is quite an investment, so we have currently chosen to focus on personal computers which provide much more processing power for our main activity: realtime audio processing. As a side note, it can be sometimes difficult to tell the difference between a mobile device and a laptop computer (take a Windows 10 laptop with a touchscreen, for example), so you can actually use our software on tablets already.” What’s next for Blue Cat Audio? GJ “We’ve just released Blue Cat’s Late Replies, a creative delay and multieffects plugin that can also host other plugins, like PatchWork and MB-7 Mixer. This new plugin also has a great collection of built-in audio effects. We’re also working on new built-in processors which will also be part of other products in the near future... and our least recent plugins will be upgraded to our latest standards in the coming months. This is probably going to be another busy year!”
“Hosts within hosts are between the hammer and the anvil!”