INDUSTRY. SUPPLY ROUND TABLE
emissions caused in the manufacture of our capital purchases (such as cameras, lenses and tripods that we buy annually) and we have no control over these. We regularly speak with manufacturers about their net-zero plans and hope that all can make a special, concerted effort to reduce their emissions and carbon footprints – else these will in time affect our willingness to buy their products. No doubt, we’ve seen a surge in the demand for equipment due to the explosion of new technologies and the boom in production. How are you seeing this filter down to you, and is this ultimately a good problem to have? LW: In line with the above, our focus on virtualised technologies means that we have scalability. Historically, hardware could easily be delivered with overpowered specs for certain systems. Virtualisation and cloud-based solutions mean we can allocate the exact required resources to each solution, while also allowing headroom and scalability if specifically required. HB: There was a huge surge in technology purchases when we came out of the pandemic, but this peak has settled to some extent. After two years of extreme pressure on engineering departments, a lot of these teams took a break over the summer, so things slowed down a little before picking up once again after IBC. Since Covid-19, it’s difficult to predict sales cycles because typical production and post-production cycles have been completely turned on their heads. BB: Innovation and new technologies mean that people will always want the latest thing, and this directly benefits rental companies and drives revenue. But too much innovation can mean new products are released before the existing products have been fully paid for and this can hurt business.
servers when they were announced. Designed to reduce the physical footprint and power utilisation normally required for its IPD platform, these virtual servers were among an array of virtualised products we were keen to adopt. Since then, we’ve forged close partnerships with many new cloud and virtual solutions, and manufacturers are focusing on moving away from power-hungry on-site computation to a sustainable future. When it comes to supply constraints of hardware, this makes a huge difference, as we’re able to reprovision existing hardware rather than relying on a one-for-one method. HB: Approximately 25% of our vendors ship products direct to us from overseas, but even those that deliver from within the UK aren’t manufacturing the products here – they still have to ship the products internationally themselves. The issue is with manufacturing rather than supply. It’s also worth considering that big technology refreshes, and new infrastructure projects have an extremely long presale cycle that often culminates in a really demanding purchase and delivery schedule. There’s been a lot of discussion recently about how the entire RFI and RFP processes are no longer fit for purpose because the use cases and technologies have often significantly changed by the time the solutions are actually delivered – perhaps the supply chain issues are just another reason why the way we manage these projects needs to be reconsidered. BB: While that is probably the case, I think a wider question which you haven’t asked concerns sustainability. As an extremely sustainability-focused company, while we have cut our scope one and two carbon emissions by 9% in 2021 and hope to have achieved further reductions during 2022, some 96% of our total footprint is due to scope three
Ultimately, it’s a trade-off – and we want to buy new equipment that benefits the end user, since this will increase demand and build our brand. However, I think that the quest for ever-higher resolution capture will abate, since you have diminishing returns when shooting HD, then migrating to 4K, then 6K and 8K… To what extent an 8K image is perceptibly better for an end viewer than a 4K image is debatable. However, more data absolutely results in more energy being used during capture, transfer, archive, post, etc. So, as clients are becoming more aware of environmental issues, perhaps we may end up with greater recognition of certain standards, and productions may stick with 4K or 6K without an ever-increasing push to 12K, 16K and so on. People will also demand new products when they become available, and the larger manufacturers will always want to push new developments as this will generate fresh sales. A good example of this is the DJI Ronin 4D, which is an entirely new design of camera with a
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