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Profile: Terry Ragan

Sep 17, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Title: Director of product and strategic marketing for Discreet.
Background: Prior to joining Discreet in 1999, Ms. Ragan worked in the visual effects business with Synapix and Avid Technology. She also worked as a system engineer with General Electric Co. and Intersolv. Discreet, a division of Autodesk, develops software and systems for digital content creation, such as visual effects, 3D animation and real time broadcast graphics. The company was formed when Discreet Logic merged with Kinetic two years ago.
Transition: Being an engineer has given Ms. Ragan a deeper understanding of how her company’s products actually work. “When it comes to describing our solutions to our customer base, we always keep in mind the reality and truth of what we can achieve and translate that into English,” she said. In addition, Discreet’s products are no longer being purchased solely by artists but by system administrators and technical folks as well, and it helps to be able to speak their language, she said.
Trends: In developing and marketing Discreet’s line products, Ms. Ragan tries to keep several issues foremost in her mind. “What do creative people worry about? What are the trends? What are they trying to plan for on getting the greatest production and return on investment for their solution in light of today’s economy?” she asks. While Discreet hasn’t changed its focus or eliminated any products during the current slowdown, it is trying to make its products better, she said. “Now that we have a wider customer base, we are doing more focus groups and getting more customers’ feedback and trying to implement as many of those [suggestions] into our next version if possible,” she said.
Upcoming developments: Discreet is planning to release the newest version of its “frost” software in the fall. The current version allows broadcasters to create and overlay 3D graphics in real time, and the next version will expand on those capabilities. ABC, NBC and CNN used the software during their coverage of the presidential election last fall. “In the past, graphics had to be pre-built. Here you have the flexibility to make the change during the newscasts,” she said. Artists can partially design the graphics in advance and change or modify them in real time, such as highlighting different states on a map of the United States during the election coverage, she said.
Value: Graphics are becoming an increasingly important element of a broadcast, Ms. Ragan said. Fox News Channel, for instance, has made a name for itself with its direct, in-your-face graphics, which are created through frost. Fox Sports has used the software to provide real-time speeds and statistics during NASCAR coverage. TechTV in San Francisco uses frost for all its graphics, from floating dollar signs to ticker tapes.
The future: Within two to five years, Ms. Ragan expects Discreet will have developed software to handle the infrastructure and management of digital media.