The end of a year is a good time to look back and reflect on changes over the last twelve months, which is how this blog starts. Then, I included some of your comments.
In my newsletter, I invited readers to share their thoughts on the last year. So, here is a look back at 2012 both from my perspective and from the point of view of the folks in the trenches.
NOTE: In the truth-in-advertising department, I edited many of the reader comments for spelling, length, and clarity.
To me, 2012 was a year where our industry continued to struggle under tremendous pressure in three areas: Business, Technology, and Jobs.
The biggest business challenges in 2012 were the twin hammers of more competition creating smaller budgets. From my perspective, this translated into five business trends emerging over the last year:
One of the problems of being a niche market is that it is very hard for vendors to keep prices low with limited volume, yet it is very hard for filmmakers to pay high prices when budgets are getting squeezed.
This is quickly shifting the mantra from “higher quality is better,” to “the quality is good enough.”
Here, the key trend that I saw was that technology is now changing faster than most editors can afford to upgrade to it. This caused many to continue using last year’s technology and delay making new purchases because there is not enough perceived value in the new offerings; especially when combined with enormous budget pressure to control costs.
So, lots of cool stuff gets announced, but adoption rates are slow to take off.
A sidelight of this is that product reviews and evaluations from trusted sources will become increasingly important.
WHAT THIS MEANS
What all this means is that there is more work, with smaller budgets, being spread between more people. I expect those pressures to continue into 2013.
As editors, this means we need to keep our skills sharp, our costs low, and carefully evaluate every purchase to make sure the benefits outweigh the costs. Also, the industry is not standing still. Older software tools will not be supported forever. Cameras change, codecs change, connectivity and storage change – we need to prepare ourselves to change with them.
As vendors, this means that companies that have price elasticity, the ability to reach beyond their traditional markets, and compelling benefits compared to price will be more successful in the industry than those that don’t. The increasing numbers of new users in filmmaking also means you need to market to people you don’t know, yet.
As for the storage industry, developing yet another “me-too” storage product will be an exercise in marketing to low-margins. However, developing a long-term way to archive those assets at a seriously affordable price point is an out-of-the-park home run. Still, it will probably take someone outside our industry to think outside the box enough to solve this problem.
SIDEBAR – THE WAKE-UP CALL
Apple’s launch of Final Cut Pro X in 2011 was a wake-up call to the industry that we needed to redefine who we were. We saw those results playing out throughout 2012.
In the past, editors would define themselves by their tools: “I’m a Final Cut Editor,” or “I’m an Avid Editor.” As we discovered, those distinctions can get in our way.
Clients hire us because we can tell stories, on-time, and on-budget. Whether we use Final Cut, or Premiere, or Media Composer, or a Commodore 64 is irrelevant to a client giving us a job.
Just as you wouldn’t hire a carpenter simply because of the brand of hammer that they use, we discovered that clients could care less what software we use. This year, we discovered that, in today’s world, we needed more than one editing technology in our toolkit.
I am a big fan of Final Cut Pro X because there are some things it does amazingly well. I’m also a fan of Premiere Pro CS6 because it can do things that FCP X doesn’t. And I still edit projects every week using Final Cut Pro 7 because there are things it does better than Premiere and FCP X.
In other words, I am not defining myself in terms of the tools I use, I am defining myself in terms of the work I create. And, based upon my email, many other editors have come to the same conclusion.
Everyone has the right to choose their own tools and to encourage others to follow their lead. However, I think 2012 took us past the “one-tool-is-enough” stage. Now, there are so many excellent software tools, at increasingly attractive prices, it is foolish not to know more than one.
It is equally foolish, though easy to understand, to remain wedded to the technology of the past. DV, tape, and standard-definition are all almost dead. You may be able to get a bit more life from them, but you need to be planning NOW what you are going to do NEXT.
READERS RESPOND — WHAT WERE THE HIGHLIGHTS OF 2012?
CHIP DIZÁRD – Baltimore, MD
FRANK MAXWELL – Trowbridge, England
I think Apple should take the highlight and us folks who have the cash should take the spotlight…. I like FCP X better than FCP 7. It is much better to understand and everything is at my finger tips.
ALAN DAY – Cape Town, South Africa
My highlight for 2012 turned out to be going back to FCP for a clients edit and finding out how utterly dreadful it was!!! So happy with Adobe.
STEVE ABARTA – Simi Valley, CA
I’m really impressed with the advances made by Apple with FCP X this past year. This was, for me, already a wonderful upgrade from FCP 7, but where it is today compared to just 12 short months ago, is really miraculous. Oh, it still has it’s “crash” moments, but I have really fallen in love with it.
MARLENE HIELEMA – Calgary, AB
The most significant product in the photo industry – which I am part of – is the coming of age of the mirrorless cameras – most notably the Panasonic Lumix GH3, its fast lenses and its video capabilities including real video autofocus capabilities! This makes it a true hybrid machine for photographers (hybrid = photo+video+ audio).
The most significant change in my business is the addition of video to my [ still photo] services, on a limited basis for now. Plus, I started video blogging with a new group a couple of months ago.
DOUG SPARKMAN – Murfreesboro, TN
Obviously the most significant thing is that Apple turned FCPX into a pro caliber NLE this year. CS6 is also significant.
JIM MCQUAID – North Carolina
It’s been the BEST year to buy a fantastic new digital cinema camera. And, it’s been the worst year to buy a new digital cinema camera.
Products like the BlackMagic camera, the Sony F5 and others are amazing but the rate of change is still so high that it’s crazy. I’m holding my cards for another year and sticking with the lowly DSLR (and my trusty EX1).”
JEFF ORIG – Honolulu, HI
KEN ACKERMAN – Portland
As a video hobbyist, the most significant thing that changed for me this year has been the introduction of Adobe’s Creative Cloud. I have never been able to afford the latest Creative Design Premium Suites from Adobe due to their pricing. The Creative Cloud has changed that for me.
IMO, this is really a masterstroke of strategy by Adobe. It maximizes their return & increases their market share. My guess is they will attract enough “new” users to effectively claim ownership of the ” Pro” NLE market, leaving Apple in the dust.
Up to date quality tools are crucial for those earning money from video production, but now it doesn’t preclude hobbyist’s either.
JERRY THOMPSON – Christiana, TN
Deliverables are changing. It is becoming ever increasingly difficult to pickup media (blank or mastered/audio or video) in retail stores. Severely shrinking inventories at retail locations force us to purchase larger quantities from places like DiscMakers or B & H.
RICHARD OSSO – Hanson, MA
Apple finally made a significant amount of upgrades for FCP X that I am now going to upgrade. Though I have little time to play and shorten my learning curve, I am grateful that you provide video tutorials to get us through that FIRST FEAR of something new…..until we become comfortable enough to slide our projects from FCP 7 to X.
You are a big part of that transition.
STU AULL – Fairbanks, AK
[The lack of] reasonably priced LTO archiving systems for small production houses! [Especially as a RED owner, ] one of the big challenges is archiving reams of image and program data on some cost-effective, _reliable_ medium.
The first one out of the gate with an affordable package will deservedly make a killing.
IT’S A WRAP
Those are my thoughts and those of other readers. As always, I’d love to know what you think.
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