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ASK THE EXPERTS
the rate card
Choosing a rental company...
with Mike Ransome,
rom time to time, most
people in broadcast and
production need to rent in some
equipment. It might be to extend
capabilities – an extra camera channel,
for example – or it might be to bring in
something you do not normally use,
like an EVS server, for instance.
Now picking a dry hire company
sounds awfully simple. There are
several in the business: surely all
you do is fi nd one that keeps the kit
you want at a price you like? Well, I
suggest that it is not quite a simple as
that. At Presteigne we now have 23 years
of experience in providing rental
services 24 hours a day, 365 days
a year. So forgive me if I offer a few
thoughts about what goes on behind
the rate card.
Technology It is a pretty obvious thing to say that
we are working in an industry where
the technology changes every day.
And many people will choose to rent
equipment because they expect to
get the latest available from the rental
house. So the fi rst question you have to ask is
whether your supplier is up to date. Do
they spend time, as we do, tramping
the halls at NAB and IBC, and many
long hours in meetings with our key
suppliers? Are they infl uencing the
future development of products, or are
they just buying kit as required?
50 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 88 APRIL 2014
What about software releases? Is the
equipment running the latest versions?
Has it been checked for bugs? Where
equipment has to interwork, are the
With today’s complex equipment,
what about set-up. An EVS server in
its raw state may well not do what you
want it to do, and if it is delivered just a
couple of hours before the production
starts that could be a real problem – a
If it looks grubby on the outside, does
that mean that no-one has checked
the important parts. Dirt, dust and
smudges on sensors, back lenses
and media slots can be the difference
between success and failure, or at
least irritating delays cutting into the
So expecting the kit to arrive in a good
protective case, with no dirt or marks,
is not superfi cial. It gives you some
reassurance that it is well looked after.
So you need to be able to tell the
rental house not just what you want
but what you want it to do. Indeed, for
complex pieces of kit like servers it is
better for you to tell us what you want
to achieve and we will do all the set-up
To really fi nd out, though, ask your
renter about their quality assurance
plan. Is every single piece of
equipment assessed carefully through
a comprehensive checklist when it
comes into the building, and checked
again before it goes out?
That means the phone has to be
answered by people who know what
they are talking about. And specialists
in diffi cult areas should be on hand to
pick up the call if you really want to get
And no, I am not claiming that in our
company nothing ever goes wrong.
So if something should develop a
problem, how quickly can your renter
get you a replacement?
That support has to be readily
available. If you need something
tomorrow – or even today – you really
do not want to be waiting for a call
Servers are not the only things that
need setting up before going out on a
production. Cameras and lenses, for
instance, also need careful checking.
Is it correctly calibrated? Are the focus
and zoom motors working smoothly?
It may seem like an obvious point, but
is the equipment clean? A bit of sticky
tape residue on a camera body will
not affect the functionality, but it does
suggest that no-one has looked at it
recently. Speed of service is probably the most
pressing issue we hear about from our
customers. A lot of people will want
something right away – often the same
day. That means we have to have kit
on the shelves that is clean, checked
and ready to be loaded into a van
within minutes of the order arriving.
Wireless Productions are increasingly looking
for more and more wireless cameras.
They give a real freedom to the
operator, whether it is running up and
down a touchline or getting in among
the crowds at a music event.
Some sports absolutely depend upon
wireless cameras. We have a regular
relationship with the University Boat