Blackmagic Design makes presence felt at Broadcast Asia

Blackmagic Design makes presence felt at Broadcast Asia

MUMBAI: It's that time of the year again - where the leaders of the industry present the newest and most innovative technologies for film, television and digital advertising under one roof. It's Broadcast Asia time. All the world's leading broadcasters have descended on Singapore to keep pace with technology that can help them improve their processes, quality and output.

One of the companies that has made its presence felt at the event is Blackmagic Design, a leading innovator and manufacturer of creative video technology. Blackmagic has created some of the most talked about products in the industry like codecs, professional cameras, Cintel Scanner among others. In order to gain a better perspective on and understanding of the Blackmagic software and hardware, caught up with Blackmagic designs director Richard Lim at the event, excerpts follows.  

You were saying that you have over 200 products, cameras and other equipments. Tell us more about it? 

We established ourselves initially as a video capture company I/O card company for post production and since then after several acquisitions of companies, we have now become a full-fledged end-to-end solutions (provider) where we provide equipment and technology for different industries. This could be education, audiovisual, broadcast, production, post production, military, hospitality, simulation - all sorts of industry use our product as long as they need to work with video content, transport video content y,, (switch)  around video content, record video content, post produce video content and we should have technology and products that helps them. By end-to-end we mean that now it is possible to establish an entire facility workflow based on Blackmagic design products and technology. I think thats not one company in the industry that can do it except for us. 

Basically you work as System Integrator (SI)?

SI will be our customer, we provide all this to people who actually put together systems and they will serve maybe Doordarshan and Zee TV or any other platform requiring our services.

Who have been your customer so far on the broadcast side?

Almost all the tv stations, they are adopting more and more products, Nowadays, you see tv channels setting up faster in India, especially away from first tier cities. Mushrooms of local channels, most of these channels are using our products, mainly because our products are cost effective and reliable and we use the latest technology as well , so they do not suffer a loss of quality and yet they can do the same as any other big tv stations. We are working with traditional and new broadcasters.

Can you name some broadcasters who are buying your products?

Zee TV and Doordarshan are using our products. We have two guys is India one for tech and other for sales. Both are based out of Delhi but they are always on the move. We serve India through two distributors, one for the south and other for the west and north west region for the last two years. Most of the times you find that two distributors in a country are enemies of each other but not for us.

But why would the companies working in North west and south be enemies?

Because broadcasters don’t do business in one state, they will do project across states which usually tends to cause conflicts of interest. But our guys are collaborating with each other very well.  We also cater to the film making industry as they are kind of costumers who focus on one range of products and cameras.

Which camera models are doing well for you?

We have the Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro, our flagship product for filmmaking. If you pick any of our cameras, it is good enough to make a cinematic movie, yet it is cost effective for you to own the product and technology. The company believes in empowering creativity by democratising technology, so you can own the technology and not rent it. Arri owners mostly rent their cameras. Ditto with Red. The sticker price is way beyond the reach of filmmakers which makes ownership challenging.

What is your customer base in India?

We haven’t really counted that but we have a healthy unique sale in India. I will fairly say that we have the most filmmaking cameras in India owned by people not by rental companies. Rental companies don’t like us. Because they cannot make money out of us,. In India, we have customers who don’t maintain equipment and they always cite environment as the culprit. But we also have customers who manage to take care of the equipment very well because they understand the environmental issues. Generally, we have experienced double digit growth in India for many years.

Which area is stronger for you in India? Is it the north or southern market?

Generally, the north has always been doing better, but actually not so from the last couple of years. For the last couple of years, the south is doing well for now..

So is the east is going to explode now for you?

Yes, absolutely! If you consider the growth rate between India and other south east Asian markets like China and Korea, India is a bit slower but it is getting there. The volume in China is multiple of India. The per capita income in India is far less than China and Korea as people here still have their basic needs to fulfil. 

Why are your products so expensive in India as compared to Singapore?

The difference is due to the import duties. Now with the GST rollout, things will become better. Our margins are already negligible. 35 per cent of our prices includes duties and taxes which we pay to the government. The duties are more than margins. We have really done our best to keep the prices as competitive as possible but the fixed rate of the duties makes buying from Singapore more attractive for an average Indian.

Have you done any end-to-end solutions in the last six years? From pre-production to proaction to post-production?

Usually we have customers who want to build a studio – like a three camera set up with acquisition (camera system), monitoring (display ssytems), recording, switching, storage, streaming. We have customers who say I am a rental company – I do concerts, I do shows, I do weddings, so we provide them with the whole system for that too. But lately, we are also seeing some post production companies who don’t want to concentrate only on post production but want to work with  ad agencies as well. They usually want to shoot commercials,  music videos, and do postproduction for you as well. . Our products are well equipped to do that as well. Some of our technology users are now moving towards extending more services. Now, if I am an advertising agency, I don’t need to go to several people for a video but I can directly go to an Prasad or  Prime Focus and ask them to shoot something, do post production and distribute it for me.

Which  products are giving you volumes and value in India?

As far as our products go, if you would look at  the footprint they have, then our no 1 product is video I/O cards, because we have been selling them for 16 years and they continue to be our bread and butter. We sell a lot of cards to India. of our productsOur cards are the highest sellers for us in India; we have been in cards for 16 years. 

Convertors are also the bread and butter products which is not very expensive and we sell a lot of them. Displays are also doing well. Also in the last four years has been to make make DaVinci resolve – our color correction and editing tool – more affordable to consumers. At one time, daVinci used to cost $500,000, today it is in the hundreds of dollars only for the full version, whereas the free version has 80 per cent functionality. 

It’s difficult to tell you which really is our best seller because they are all evenly spread out in terms of customers. 

How do you market the brand across customers in India? Do you attend trade shows?

In India, we only attend Broadcast India, but our partners attend local shows. As a company, we do a lot of workshops with our distributors. This year we did two series of workshops for our cameras. Our distributors go and visit the end customers and do various workshops and visits to customers. 

What about 4K offtake in India… 

We are probably one of the few companies who have pushed 4K work right from the start. Most of our products are 4K enabled, but priced as HD. The advantage for us in pushing 4K work for last four years is that our staff and our resller channels are fairly familiar with 4K requirements.

What is the way forward for Blackmagic Design? Do you see more acquisitions happening?

If we have to look at acquisitions, it has to be the technology that can make the company stronger. We are always on the look out for a good acquisition opportunity. 

The company was created by three people and we fund it  ourselves from internal accruals. It  started 18 years ago from scratch and it has grown tremendously ever since. The revenue funds the expense of the company and we have good margins. We are a medium sized global company. We  like to focus more on our technology and products to make them  accessible for average consumers – the average creative guy who wants to make great content.

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