Cheap is the most expensive option

February 23, 2016

I have traveled the world shooting a huge variety of projects. The production business is an interesting opportunity to see and learn things that most people never even think about. Different cultures, food, geography, customs. It has been amazing to have these experiences that are so unique during my time in the production business. 

 

 

 

One of the repeating themes for me was shooting in high-tech environments like factories, hospitals, data centers, and NASA among others. These places, while very different, share some common themes. At the top of the list - RELIABILITY. If a factory is unreliable,  a lot of money is lost. If a hospital is unreliable, lives are lost. If a data center is un-reliable, time is lost. No one needs me to tell them that time and money are valuable. I have never met anyone that does not see value in time or money. There are some cultures that don't care as much about money, but they care about time. There are some work-a-holic types that care more for money than time. Reliably saving time or making money is a core talent in business. 

 

This blog post is not about a broad discussion on the cultural values of time or money. The focus here is about the video and film production business specifically. In the past 10 years, the industry has totally transformed from a 'secret club' to 'all-access'. The early days were built on the most innovative engineering available, regardless of cost. Manufacturing volumes were extremely low which drove the cost up even further. Fast forward to todays world, and we see 4K cameras that fit in the palm of your hand and only cost a few hundred dollars. We also see a massive gowth in the number of people building media based businesses that make use of all the new technologies to communicate with motion pictures. 

 

With all the fast paced and amazing technological breatkthroughs - some things have not changed at all. Time is money and equipment reliability is time. It does not matter if you are shooting a small corporate communications piece or a huge feature film. All prodcuction costs time and money. Period. So, with that in mind, why would anyone waste the time that is directly propotional to the money they make? I don't think anyone does that on purpose. But they do. They do this unwittingly by buying the gear that just barely gets the job done. It seems like a bargain, until it doesn't work. Usually the problems come up just before it is time to roll camera. That is when it becomes apparent that the few dollars you saved is about to get real expensive. 

 

The concept I am getting to is the correlation of time an money on a production. Money is spent to reduce the amount of time spent OR time can be spent to reduce the amount of money spent. Read that again. So a production must balance the time and money equation masterfully to get the job done. In general, there is a relatively fixed amount of money and the goal to buy as much time as possible. By the time the 1st shoot day comes, the amount of money has determined how much time you have and that time has been broken down into a schedule that becomes the law. If the schedule is compromised - MAKE SURE YOU ARE NOT THE ONE RESPONSIBLE! 

 

These concepts are not new and they will never change. No matter how many K's your camera has - time and money will always be correlated. In the production business, we sell time. Crew charges by the day. Gear is rented by the day. Locations are rented by the day. Editing time is sold by the hour. Rendering time is sold by the minute. The underlying tech has no impact on those core concepts. 

 

This is why Solid Camera refuses to be 'cheap'. Our only goal is to be the best solution for the problems we choose to solve. For the ScatterBOX2x - we only chose the premium components and execute a premium design. There are over 500 parts in a ScatterBOX2x, most of them are focused on dealing with various show stopping power problems without the user ever knowing what just happened. Our nearest competition, are many years behind. 

 

Among the most obvious is the actual connetors we put into out products. Solid Camera only uses GENUINE Lemo, Fischer, and Neutrik connectors. They are much more expensive than the self proclaimed 'cheap' knock-off connectors you can find on internet. Why do we bother to pay for connectors that are generally 5 times the price of the copy-cats? Becasue they are, by far, the most reliable solution available. Fischer and Lemo connectors are produced to an amazing spec that is absolutely focused on performance and reliability. 

 

If you have a fiddly connector it costs time and therefore money. It only takes one incident to completely blow through the cost difference between a knock-off connector and a genuine one. Why bother. This is your living. This is your reputation. Are you saving money by blindly looking at the purchase price or are you considering the long term cost?

 

 

 

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