A LONG VIEW BACK AND FORWARD


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Peter Savage looks backwards and forwards to assess our industry, taking a uniquely long view
Well, here we are again. It’s the end of the year and with the usual party invitations means Christmas must really be upon us. So, in timely annual fashion, I have an opportunity to look back at 2012 and forward to 2013 for all things broadcast.
A booming start
2012 will always be remembered as the year of the Olympics, paradoxically because it killed all business for nearly two months from the end of July onwards which was a complete shock to most of us, myself included. We thought that, with the Diamond Jubilee as well, this would be the year of all years – and it certainly did start like that. Business in broadcast was booming from February/March onwards, starting with a more than lively BVE (it will be interesting to see if this continues when the venue changes next year to London’s ExCeL).
Size matters, it seems
Camera sales were dominated, at the smaller end, with the introduction of some nice new ranges from Canon and Sony. And the sales of Alexa remained solid in the drama and film markets. 3D has found its niche and the new trend is to launch a new product a week, with a higher resolution than anyone else but with no manual to tell you how to handle the truck loads of data the new product produces. It seems strange that we have barely adopted 1k domestically yet manufacturers are fighting over who has the best 4k or 6k product.
And so does price
Post-production equipment is still dominated by people who want to make everything remarkably cheaply. I understand that technological advances make it ever more easy to make a box that does everything, almost including boiling the kettle, for $3,000 but the market within post-production seems to have become incredibly polarised. People make money at the top and at the bottom – but nowhere in between. The bottom feeders make money because the entry level is now so inexpensive that almost anyone can afford to set up a boutique company. And, as production becomes so heavily dominated by the big five indies, that’s where the post production money is.
This domination by the big boys makes the same sort of economic sense as it did with the supermarkets against the independents on the high street. As we’ve seen, if no-one shops in the high street anymore then all the really good, talented and knowledgeable shop-owners disappear and, lo and behold!, that is exactly what is happening in Soho now. It seems strange that, when you talk to post-equipment dealers, they all give the same story: “if it wasn’t for one of the big five I would be out of business”.
The great, the good and the new kid on the block
Next year will be interesting because it is my 25thanniversary of setting up Fineline. In those days I was the new kid on the block and the old timers were Studio Capital, and APT. John Quincey and Danny Lawrence were just starting out and Phil Baxter was a young freelance cameraman working for Central. Great names like Teletape and Metro still ruled the roost. The market entry level was about £2m to get into post-production and Quantel was unstoppable with their Paintbox, Harry and Henry products. How things have changed.
Resourcefulness
In 2013 cameras will still be an important part of our business as the image still has to get into the solid-state device “doesn’t sound quite as nice as can”. Workflow from then on will still be important but we will probably look more towards live events as it is here that there is growth in the market, caused by the advance of technology. Once the money had gone out of making albums because of iTunes, the industry had to re-invent itself and it has – by way of live eventing. That is a perfect example of how resourceful we media people have become. Let’s celebrate that, if nothing else.
Twelve thoughts of Christmas
Finally, in what has become a TV-Bay tradition, here are my 12 thoughts of Christmas:
12 months of interest rates staying at 0.5 per cent
11 times in the last week that I have heard that 2013 will be a nothing year (ie no TV happening)
10 lbs put on in these 12 days
9 lives that are needed to run a successful post-production company in today’s climate
8 new films brought in by the new change in TV finance brought in by HM Gov next year
7 fewer times one particular post-production company can phoenix in a year
6k resolution screen for my new flat at €34k and nothing to watch in that format for another
5 years
4 quarters of UK growth which means that we will officially be out of recession
3 more Indian companies buying UK post-production houses (this seems to be a recurring annual theme)
2 more banks entering, rather than exiting, the UK market (NAB and ING 2012)
… and, finally, the proverbial jagerbomb, far more alcoholic and tasty than a partridge.
If you would like advice on how to make 2013 work better for you, get in touch with me on peter.savage@azule.co.uk and/or write to the TV Bay editor. For more information about us, or to read other articles in this series, look at our website: www.azule.co.uk.

Tags: iss072 | finance | azule | N/A
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