Well, first I have to cop to being a bad boy and remaining absent from the blog for far too long. Haven’t really had a lot to say that I haven’t already said in various posts in various places, but I didn’t mean to stay away quite this long. And that said, the first order of business in these forecasts is to examine how I did last time. And as always, I got a few things right, a number of things wrong, and a number of things that were so far off the mark it’s not even funny.
Starting with cameras, a year ago I said that Red would likely ship both Epic and Scarlet models by the end of the year. As usual with Red, they were late, but they did in fact ship both products, barely making the year end deadline. I didn’t foresee their elimination of the 2/3″ Scarlet model – nobody did – but they did ship both the Epic and Epic X models, as well as the redesigned 35mm Scarlet. I said that the Epic would likely find its audience primarily in features, and not have a particularly significant impact in television, and that proved to be pretty much on the money. I predicted that Scarlet would become a companion camera on Epic shows, somewhat replacing things like Canon DSLR’s for that purpose. I haven’t seen any real evidence of that happening, although that doesn’t mean it’s not. I believed them when they said they would ship RedRay by the end of the year, and that did not happen (it still hasn’t). And finally, I “suggested” that Red try to find a way to use commodity GPU’s for wavelet decompression rather than continue to rely on their own Red Rocket card, and that “suggestion” hasn’t been implemented to this point (in fairness, I’m certainly not the only one who has made that “suggestion”). I predicted that Arri would announce and possibly ship a higher resolution version of the Alexa, and that did not happen either. That’s not to say that it won’t eventually happen, but it did not happen in 2011. Or to this point in 2012. But perhaps the worst prediction I made was that Sony would scale back its digital cinema efforts in favor of consumer/prosumer products. On that one I really blew it, as Sony introduced the F65 with great fanfare. So much for that one. I did, however, somewhat correctly predict the growing dominance of file based recording and the continuing decline of videotape for that purpose, and Sony’s participation in that evolution. Along with the F65, Sony introduced their SR Memory modules and SR Master codec, as well as recording of the RAW data from the F65′s sensor. I also somewhat correctly predicted that Canon would introduce a motion camera that would not be a DSLR, but would also not be a true digital cinema entry in the mold of Red. And that they did, with the introduction of the C300, a product which largely met my description. So at least I got THAT right…
In software, I predicted that Blackmagic’s positioning of Resolve as a very low cost product would not really change the landscape at existing facilities, especially the large ones (and it didn’t), but would probably inspire other players to do similar adjustments in terms of their pricing policies and platform offerings. I incorrectly predicted that the major player that would follow that lead would be Autodesk, which of course did not turn out to be the case. There were no additional program ports to either the Mac or Windows platforms of the Autodesk systems products, as I predicted. However, one other player did attempt to do some market repositioning, and that company was Assimilate. They lowered the price of their primary product (Scratch) by almost half, and they introduced a “Scratch Lab” version at under $5000. As I’m not privy to their sales figures, I’m not aware of the results of those moves, but Scratch Lab is a nice competitor to Colorfront’s On Set Dailies product at the high end, and it adds value as a dailies creation program that is not currently present in DaVinci Resolve, which is often adapted to be used for a similar purpose. So I think I was “sort of” correct on the general prediction.
In hardware, I predicted that 4K DLP projectors would make their appearance, and they did. I also said that the major studios would scale back their commitment to live action 3D production, and I was largely correct on that. I implied that consumers would not readily adopt 3D in the home, and that has thus far proven to be the case. I correctly stated that 3D was not going to go away, but was not going to become the “norm” either, and I was pretty much on the money with that one.
In talking about industry trends, I was a lot more accurate, although what I said was largely predictable. I said that season orders of series episodes would get smaller, and that has absolutely happened, with many series restricted to 13 -16 episodes, regardless of whether they started in the fall or in midseason. I said that this season would basically see the end of film production on new broadcast network series, and that was exactly what happened. I stated that videotape recording would largely be replaced with file based recording, and at least on single camera production, that has also been borne out. I correctly predicted that file based deliveries of network shows, while pretty much inevitable, would not happen in 2011, and except for a few cable networks, that was also proven to be true.
So while I didn’t do quite as well as last year, I did get a few things right. In part 2, we’ll look at predictions for this year.