In the beginning, there were big studios, and the big studios were the only ones who could afford all the expensive and extensive equipment needed to make a film. The big studios saw this and declared that it was good, and people didn’t question.
Then came the rise of the independent film movement, where creative teams found ways to create compelling films on a much lower budget, but the price of certain necessities, such as the camera and film itself, were non-negotiable, and even indie films were more expensive than the average person was willing to spend on a creative venture. A few masterpieces made their way into the public eye, using limited casting and single-location stories set in modern times, saving money everywhere they could to afford the professional finishing work necessary.
Digital formats have yet again inspired a movement towards independent films, and with the rise of direct-to-the-public venues such as streaming services and YouTube videos, it is more and more possible for virtually anyone to make a film. However, this technological boom did not necessarily come with a sudden swelling of talent, and one only needs to peruse the “Bad Ben” trilogy to see that. While the overall bar has fallen so low that it’s rather difficult not to clear it, there is still a standard of professionalism, and true filmmakers, though aware that there is a camera on their phone, aspire higher.
In the beginning, manufacturers were making the equipment for the big studios. The systems have backups, redundancies, and are scalable, with routine maintenance scheduled so they will last a long time. Those systems are still being built, but the manufacturers can’t live on that, frankly. Even if they did invent a whole new and exciting way to do things every two years, the stuff they built two years ago is still working. Once you’ve sold to all the big studios, you’re pretty much done for a while. With the rise of the indie movement, more units were being sold, and while new giant studios aren’t born every day, new independent filmmakers are, which means that coming out with something new every few years will be enough to keep the manufacturers in business if they make the switch and vie for the small-team market.
And so, while the big studios were suddenly finding themselves in competition with a group of friends who filmed their whole movie in their aunt’s house, manufacturers were working on a way to get big-studio performance on an independent filmmaker scale. Instead of being scalable, items are more portable, or designed to sit on the desktop and be “plug and play.” The manufacturers know that this is the only way to survive the unstoppable shift towards individual makers and away from the era of network executives, and the winners of this proverbial arms race are the small teams and independent filmmakers.
If you don’t have a team of 40, you don’t need 40 editing bays and 40 shared storage users, but you still need equipment that can access and store really large files, and there are “turnkey” options for an instant editing bay, too. Availability is on the rise and prices are decreasing as manufacturers scramble to dominate the small-scale market. Any filmmakers who have ever longed for access to equipment previously believed to be out of reach should call. It’s a whole new world out there.