Following Apple's removal of its Shake high-end compositing tool from its website and store, we've received confirmation that it's no longer available from NMR, who previously sold the suite into key post-production houses in Soho.

Developed by Nothing Real, Shake was a mainstay for high-end post production for feature films, following its groundbreaking work on the Lord of the Rings movies -- where it proved that the highest level of compositing could be achieved using software and off-the-shelf computing hardware, rather than expensive specialized rigs.

Apple acquired Nothing Real in February 2002 and, in June 2006, slashed its the price to £280 plus VAT. However, as our review of Shake 4.1 detailed, Shake never took off with mainstream video pros as it had a specialized, high-end toolset. Alongside this release, Apple announced that it was ending development of the suite, and gave post houses the chance to purchase the source code.

Even so, Apple kept selling Shake through its site and through resellers such as NMR. However, there has been little demand for Shake, as long-term users bought the SDK and have developed it themselves, or moved onto newer tools.

"Over the last year or two, we've seen many VFX houses migrate towards The Foundry's Nuke," says Neil Anderson, business director at NMR. "It has a modern code base, active software development and an extensive feature set, that supersedes the one found in Shake."

Anderson thinks that Nuke has the greatest chance of succeeding Shake as the de facto tool for high-end compositing.

"Modern VFX houses run a largely Linux-based infrastructure, so Nuke makes sense for them, competing products such as Fusion run a Windows code base -- which us emulated on Linux -- or have developed too slowly (Autodesk Toxik) to be taken seriously", he adds.

So what of Phenomenon, the successor to Shake rumoured when the end of its development was announced? Nothing has been heard of the mooted tool that would take Motion's graphics card-tapping performance advantages and modern interface and add Shake's open extensibility and flowchart-based nodal compositing workflow -- which is key to high-end visual effects than can combine hundreds of elements.

Being an Apple product, Phenomenon would likely be tied to the Mac platform -- so may not be able to compete at the high-end -- but there does seem to be a niche for it as a successor to the long-dormant Combustion, offering fast, adaptable VFX tools for broadcast and high-end corporate video. Or, like so many Mac rumours, it may exist only in the imaginations of potential users.