KitPlus spoke with Malcolm Harland of Garland Partners to find out how the requirements and capabilities of acquisition technologies have changed since the early 2000s and what the state of play now is.
Back in 2004, when you launched Garland Partners, the market was focused on SD and ASI. Since then the pace of change has been immense. Is growth driven by market demand or technology?
Client expectations are very different from 13 years ago when the majority of content was viewed on regular television sets inside the home. Then the market was very much focused on SD and ASI. In terms of growth since, the market has been driven by both market demand and technology. Granted, there was a small appetite for viewing some content on the Internet, with the BBC leading that drive in the UK in 2004. Now, customer expectation is huge. For example, it's no longer acceptable to view VOD content 'post-event' on your device. Consumers want the content to be live, especially news and sports, and also to be synchronised across their mobile and tablet devices.
Thirteen years ago cameras and transport costs were more expensive. How much has that economic model changed and where are the financial pressure points now?
The accessibility for technology is significantly better and easier than it was financially back then. If you take a pure cost-per-channel, to deploy an HD service now compared to 10 years ago, that cost is dramatically lower. It's difficult to give an exact figure but at the production level it's much less than half of what it was when HD was first deployed. That's certainly the case for cameras where a fully capable HD pro-camera, which has far more capability now than it did then, is now around a tenth of the cost. As you move through the workflow the ability to deliver content is also more cost-effective. I think we'll see the same cycle for 4K. Production is very expensive because it's a new technology in the early phases of deployment; over time these costs will decrease with scale just as they did with the move from analogue to digital and with the migration from SD to HD.
With regards acquisition do you still always want to acquire the best and highest resolution as possible?
That depends on the content genre. Premium content like film and sports is expected to be high quality to give viewers an immersive experience and warrant the subscription costs. But if you're talking about breaking news from a war zone for example, where the connectivity is challenging, then high quality video isn't as important as audio.