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The film and video industry has been changing dramatically.  From the early 1900’s through to the nineties, film production remained essentially the same.  Video started changing with the advent of VHS and beta in the late seventies and early 80’s.  And it’s amazing to see companies that fail to adapt to the changes of the industry simply die.  Big companies.

Take Blockbuster.  They were king.  Unstoppable.  When Netflix started because a savvy computer program didn’t like that he had just gotten slapped with a late fee from Blockbuster, Blockbuster ignored them.  When Netflix grew quickly, Blockbuster and Wal-Mart both decided to enter the industry of mail order rentals– but half-heartily.  I remember reading press about how this was the end of Netflix– there was no way they could survive an attack from such industry behemoths.

But Blockbuster couldn’t adapt.  And the industry was changing.  Now, Blockbuster is pretty much a memory.

Let’s look at Kodak.  This giant who has been in existence for over a hundred years.  They make film, among other things.  Even when I shot Striking Range in 2005 on 35mm, Kodak was king.  Film would always be around.  These upstart digital cameras would be a passing fad– they would never reach the quality of film cameras.  The big boys in Hollywood would always shoot film.  Around that time, I sat in the audience on a live taping of Spin City.  They had 5 panavision cameras churning through massive amounts of film.  I did some calculations in my head and realized that what they were shooting with this 23 minute sitcom, I had made two feature length films with.  Possibly three.  Kodak was certainly secure.

But now, Hollywood has faced the Great Recession and costs must be cut.  Shows (like “24”) went from film to HD.  Others followed.  Now the norm is digital and very few are shooting film.  Film Camera giant Arri has developed some good HD digital cameras.  They are adapting.  Kodak, while offering some digital photography products, has failed to really re-invent themselves.  It’s not to late to avoid the fate of Blockbuster, but they’re going to have to move quickly.

Closer to home, when we shot my first three features on 35mm, we used MPS Film out of Irving, Texas.  They had a full range of Arri cameras and grip equipment.  And not a video camera among them.  But ten years ago, they realized change was afoot.  They dedicated themselves to start carrying Varicams and even HVX’s.  Today, they have adapted.

So in discussing this over breakfast the other day with a friend, he asked me what I was doing to adapt to the changing industry.  If I were to hold fast to delivering DVD’s to clients… maybe even investing in DVD duplication and Blu-ray production, I’d be missing the boat.  Clients want their video on their iPad.  We’ve gone to school to find out the best ways to optimize video compression for the web and internet and for mobile devices.  We’re partnering up with animation and graphic companies and people that stay on the leading edge of the advances.  And we use the latest tools in video production, like sliders and DSLR’s.

DVD sales are dropping like rocks.  The industry said this would never happen– people did not want to watch movies on computer screens while their home entertainment systems sat idle.  But technology has opened doors to marry the internet with the home entertainment.   The demand for DVD’s is fading fast.

We have to keep adapting.  Whether a large company or a mom and pop.


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