Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve 14 is set to shake up the industry, but is that good news for the pros?
For people like me who have worked at the cutting edge of television, advertising, corporate and entertainment production for the past couple of decades, the game has changed almost beyond recognition. Looking back at when I managed a post production facility in Soho — which is still clinging on to its status as the beating heart of the UK film and television industry — I can’t quite believe the budgets we allocated to keep on top of the latest technology. Each step up in quality (Linear to Non-Linear, SD to HD, then HD to 4K+) meant extremely expensive upgrades to camera hardware and media storage systems, and I wince when I remember the slow and buggy development in NLE software and the expensive and logistically demanding upgrade cycle for the associated hardware — manually stripping out and rebuilding edit suites to house the latest kit. Then there was the nightmare of software licensing and the difficulties and expense involved when upgrading and dealing with system compatibility issues. And there were always issues aplenty, trust me.
It is not just the facilities that have had to change with the times though, it’s the people and the whole mindset of the industry. The production process was once staffed primarily by people with very specific single skillets: camera people, sound technicians, sound mixers, off-line and on-line editors, graders, producers and directors all of whom knew the value of their skills and the very clear, very rigid boundaries of their roles in the process.
No more. The democratisation of the industry has seen technology put 4K capable smartphones in everyone’s hand and awesomely powerful laptops within the reach of every graduate. Riding its own version of Moore’s law, media production has seen quality skyrocket as average production budgets plummeted. In other words, high-quality production has become streamlined to the point where client’s expectations are so high, and their budgets so relatively low compared to previous industry standards, that only small, multi-skilled & adaptable companies can hope to turn around a profit or even keep afloat. A small team of one or two multi skilled, tech savvy producer/directors, camera operator/sound recordists, animator/editors, armed with a basic…