Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Novacut Challenging "Business as Usual"

About a week ago, I stumbled across an interesting interview that Rodney Charters did with CNMS TV. In this interview, he talks about how archiving is done in the TV/movie industry. But more importantly, he candidly describes how the archiving process has placed the post-production business in a choke hold that's preventing it from exclusively using digital technology.

So what's the problem? Why are TV and movies still being stored in film form?

According to Charters, there are three big reasons why the big switch still hasn't happened:
  1. Post-houses are deeply invested in an infrastructure that digitally formats film negatives, and archives with LTO drives (a system known for its ridiculously small storage capacity).
  2. There's no current digital storage system (e.g. optical discs or digital tapes) that can reliably store a piece of entertainment for the long-term, or a digital play back system standard (the film projector is the only standard to date).
  3. Post-houses spend around $13,000 for film to be digitally archived, whereas archiving with a film can is as inexpensive as $400.

Together, these three big reasons for the continuation of film archiving are also the foundation for conservative decision-making in the entertainment industry. They foster conservatism because they make it difficult for artists to fully embrace digital technology in its many incarnations. Take directors of photography for instance. Those who want to see their work preserved for posterity think twice about shooting with HDSLRs... technology that makes much more sense than film cameras (especially in the action genre) because of its svelte, light-weight contours. To be fair, Rodney Charters and other DPs of his ilk are abandoning the sole use of the film cameras for a more tech savvy, flexible approach to shooting that includes HDSLRs.

Post-houses are just as stuck as most DPs in the "business as usual" quicksand. And like a sleeping giant stuck in the mud, they haven't recognized that they're stuck. Instead, post-production companies see their continued investment in stupid editing and archiving methods as a way to keep competitors at bay - a way to make post-production processes so expensive that only established industry players can afford to work in the market. What entrenched post-houses fail to see is that a cloud-enabled, distributed work flow has the potential to break their monopoly over the current industry. They are blind to the possibility of post-processing being democratized by the internet, which is why Novacut has the potential to win. We see that a cloud-enabled editor could interrupt "business as usual" by giving anyone with the desire to edit the technological freedom to do so. More to the point, we see that the greatest advantage to an inclusive business model is the constant influx of real talent, and the open dialogue it encourages between artists. "Business as usual," in our eyes, inevitably leads to stagnation.

If a distributed post-production workflow sounds like the greatest thing slice sliced bread, that's because it will be.  You can help us make these tools a reality by supporting the Novacut project!

1 comment:

  1. Wow exciting stuff. Novacut is such a timely project!