Earlier today, I spoke with Jess Hartmann, CEO of ProMax, about how our industry will restart after the work-from-home restrictions lift. ProMax manufactures and sells shared storage hardware. Here’s a write-up of my notes from our conversation.
Larry: Jess what do you see happening in our industry over the next three months?
Jess: Just to keep us focused, from my perspective, I defined “our industry” as anyone producing video for any audience from shooting through distribution. However, since ProMax manufactures storage equipment, I’m much more focused on post than production.
To me, the key question is whether post-production companies come back into a central office because they are frustrated with remote workflows, or whether they figure out a good efficient system for working from home.
We talk with hundreds of companies each week and every one of them is wrestling with this. Why? Because it has huge implications for how we store and distribute data, as well as how we communicate and collaborate between all the teams involved in any production.
This is a huge question – and it will take far longer than three months to resolve.
Larry: What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in our industry over the last several months?
Jess: In the past, we were all about quality. I got into this industry in 2008 – user groups were everywhere and each of us was trying to emulate Hollywood. Aside from television commercials, the business use of video was a very small part of the market.
Today, that has all flipped. Today it’s all about business video, social media video; I mean, even television commercials are a fraction of what they were.
I call this “content velocity.” In the past, quality was everything. Those days are over. Today, content is more important than presentation. Most content is consumed once. Audiences don’t care about high-quality – they care about the information.
The velocity of content – how fast we get it shot, edited and distributed – is far more important than how it looks. The message is critical.
Larry: Are you saying quality doesn’t matter?
Jess. No. I’m saying that there’s a scale from crap to fantastic. Not every video needs to look fantastic to communicate. Business today is trying to figure out how to get sufficient content into the market fast enough.
We have to get more nimble. Look at business today, or news, or blogs – speed is more important than quality. Videos are consumed one-time, on the fly. Responding to this is one way our industry is changing.
Larry: Give me an example of how this affects ProMax?
Jess: When the work-from-home orders first hit, we looked around and said: “If no one is in the office, who’s going to buy centralized storage?” That market slowed down a lot.
Every storage vendor today has to say to the world that there are three options to remote working for video post:
We thought of a fourth method: provide inexpensive gear that allows everyone to sync media with their office, without using the cloud.
We pivoted to create MediaHUb Servers which are local devices that automatically sync with the office server on a peer-to-peer basis (no Cloud transfers). This means every member of the team can work with locally-attached storage, yet still have everyone synced. I call this: “Secure, point-to-point synchronization of media.”
With Internet speeds to the home both cheaper and, in many cases, faster than in the office, synching gives the editor a real editing experience yet with control over media on a project by project basis.
Our initial products were to ProMax customers, because it was fastest for us to get this working on our own servers. The response is great. We’l roll this out more broadly as fast as we can.
Larry: There’s a lot of buzz in the industry about 8K. What are your thoughts?
Jess: First, I think the roll-out will be very slow. Second, I think it will totally depend upon what segment of the industry were are talking about.
Quality movies and content will experiment with 8K, which will add significant pressure to storage and bandwidth. Remote work with 8K media will get harder.
However, I just don’t think that 8K is a large piece of the market going forward because we don’t need 8K in a “velocity” conversation. Social media doesn’t require 8K. Fast-turn content doesn’t require 8K. Most of the media we create and consume today doesn’t require 8K.
Larry: Our industry was already under pressure from greater competition and reduced budgets before the pandemic hit. Things are much worse now. Are you optimistic?
Jess: I’m absolutely optimistic. We have a really great future in video – it’s just that our future is going to be completely different.
Quality won’t be as big of a driver. In the past, we were all about quality. Today, quality is assumed and what is considered quality is changing. Content velocity will increase. And that’s OK – as long as we continue to change with it.
Larry: Jess, thanks for sharing your thoughts and time.
Here’s a blog from ProMAX that discusses remote video editing in more depth.
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