Apple’s Brilliant Video Engineer: Anonymous No More

By  |  Tuesday, January 6, 2009 at 2:56 pm

My favorite moment at this year’s Macworld Expo keynote had nothing to do with any of the products that were unveiled–it was was about the unveiling of a person.

At last year’s Macworld Expo keynote, Steve Jobs waxed rhapsodic about the Apple engineer who had gone on vacation to the Cayman Islands, shot video, and had trouble editing it–and who then invented the all-new, simpler iMovie as a result. He couldn’t have spoken more highly about the guy, but he never mentioned his name. I pinged an Apple contact to ask who this brilliant Apple employee was, and got a prompt and polite note back saying that they wouldn’t disclose his name.

After I wrote about this experience and said that I thought Apple should give its developers some glory–as it did in the early days of the Mac–I got an e-mail from someone who said that the iMovie inventor was surely Randy Ubillos, one of the creators of Adobe Premiere. My correspondent provided some pretty compelling evidence. But I decided not to identify Ubillos as Jobs’ video engineer–not because¬† I was afraid of ticking off Apple but simply because I had no idea if Ubillos wanted to be identified, and didn’t want to invade his privacy or cause trouble for him.

Today, Phil Schiller devoted a meaningful chunk of his Macworld Expo keynote to an ugrade to Ubillos’s version of iMovie that brings back some of the powerful features that folks missed, and adds some interesting extras like the ability to create animated maps. (Let’s face it: Ubillos may be enormously talented but iMovie 08 received a mixed reception at best, a fact Schiller pretty much politely acknowledged today.) But Schiller, who demoed iPhoto himself, didn’t show off iMovie 09–instead, he brought Ubillos onstage. The software’s creator got to do the demo and receive the applause.

Steve Jobs has often compared computer scientists to artists–and it was a delight to see one such artist get some credit today. May some of this colleagues come into the spotlight at future Apple product launches…


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4 Comments For This Post

  1. alexr Says:

    Randy manages [at least used to] all of the Pro Apps that are for video editing: Final Cut, etc. Simply being the manager of that group and the person doing the demos doesn’t mean [Q.E.D.] that he wrote iMovie himself.

  2. AdamC Says:

    I believe what Apple is trying to say is Jobs is not the sum of Apple but the many talents in Apple is the sum of Apple. I believe we will be seeing more of these talents surfacing throughout the year and hint to the street pundits that it is the many talents that make up apple and not just one man.

  3. cmason Says:

    Congrats on the WSJ All Things Digital byline Harry!

  4. Jess Bowers Says:

    alexr: No it doesn’t mean that Randy wrote iMovie himself, but he is surely the “visionary engineer” who came up with iMovie’s new interface. Randy single-handedly wrote all the code for Adobe Premiere 1.0, 2.0, and went on to contribute fundamentally to Final Cut Pro and iMovie. I met Randy at NAB 1999 where he was personally demoing FCP and I was blown away not only at the software product but also by Randy’s vision and smarts. I’m so glad to see him get his 15 minutes of fame.

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