NAB 2022 Perspectives: Blackmagic Design U.S. President Dan May on the Content-Creation Explosion
In recent years, the Blackmagic Design booth at the NAB Show has been a cornerstone of the South Hall. The large, open space welcomed attendees from across the spectrum of industry professionals. This year, Blackmagic Design called the North Hall home and displayed a wide range of products and services, many born out of the pandemic. “One of the key things that we saw immediately with the pandemic was that people were looking to create video,” says Dan May, president, U.S., Blackmagic Design. “There wasn’t a lessening of video-content creation; it was an increase of video-content creation.”
May says Blackmagic Design quickly saw the birth of a new kind of customer: those who were set to rely on video not only to enhance their business but to stay in business. And the Blackmagic Design products, from the ATEM live production switchers to the 4K cameras, storage, and monitors all found a place in a new eco system.
“If you were a karate instructor that no longer had kids coming into your dojo,” he says, “the question was, how do you get a multi-camera shoot into the dojo. Even normal corporate-video–based things needed to have video in the workplace to connect people together. And then there was media and entertainment.”
With that explosion of video-content creation, products like the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera lineup (starting at $1,295 for a 4K camera) and the ATEM Mini (priced at $295) or Mini Pro found a marketplace hungry for their capabilities and price point.
“You’re not going to sell a lot of those users $10,000 cameras and $5,000 switchers,” May explains. “The increase in demand was so much that we chanced some of our product launches to broaden our offerings with things like the URSA Mini Pro or ATEM Mini Extreme.”
The ripple effect of an expanding customer base over the past three years is also opening up opportunities for higher-level Blackmagic Design products, such as the ATEM Constellation 8K UHD live-production switcher.
“We’re at a point where people are looking to expand,” May notes, “and now we can help them with new products that enable them to do more and to move upstream with some of their functionality. We were very fortunate to have products and a supply chain to manage all of that fairly well.”
One of Blackmagic’s big stories at NAB 2022 was the Blackmagic Cloud, in particular DaVinci Resolve 18, the free software package that provides editing, color correction, visual effects, motion graphics, and audio postproduction.
“We want to have people working on the same project timeline within Resolve at the same time,” explains May. “Someone can be creating a project in California and invite in a colorist in Florida or an editor in Vietnam. The need was driven by the pandemic, but now it’s about empowerment and connecting creatives wherever they are. And, with Blackmagic Cloud, you can share a project timeline with them via cloud and then have storage solutions update media across these different projects.”
A key message at NAB 2022 involved the pricing of hosting a project as well as accessing it. “It’s only $5 to host the project library,” says May. “The editor or VFX person does not have to pay $5 to log in on top of that. We’re trying to steer away from everyone having to have a subscription. We’re also trying to steer away from the model where you pay for a subscription whether you use it or not. If you have 20 project libraries one month and 10 the next, you pay only for those 10.”
It’s all part of a process that truly is focused on democratizing video.
“How do I bring more people to the table?” says May. “It’s not about taking business away from the post house. It’s about getting more people trained and educated on how to use these tools. Maybe some of them will be working at that post house in 10 years, but some of them will just be able to do their own cool things using Blackmagic products. And that has always been what Blackmagic has been about.”