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The Lure of New Gear

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With manufacturing and expos getting back up to speed after COVID, the march of technology is moving faster again. It always begs the question: Do we wait a bit to see what new gear can offer, or do we go with what's available now, even if might seem a bit older? There's also a bigger picture to consider outside of just our own needs.

I can see the appeal of something brand new or announced. Usually, it’s several technologies integrated into one solution, or advancements in operator convenience—smaller, lighter, less power. I am as susceptible to this as anyone. Tiny all-in-one production solutions are indeed convenient. That new PTZ camera with integrated Wi-Fi and NDI sounds amazing. That new laptop with the Ultra chip seems to deliver way more capability with less power in a smaller, lighter frame.

But at the same time, there is older gear that is already doing that job, reliably. It may not be as fast or as light. However much those conveniences may appeal to us as producers, we also need to consider what the end client wants. They want repeatability, reliability. Usually, they want the same thing they had and were happy with before.

They’re hiring us because we provide a product they know and have accepted the value of what they get for the price they pay. While at times they ask for custom add-ons, the core component of what they want remains the same

I think any of us who have ever eaten at any restaurant can say the same thing. We go back because we liked what we had before, we liked it, and we know what we’re getting.

When streaming production pros have repeat customers, they come back to us for the same reasons. They want the price, the performance, and what they come away with in the end. When looking at new technologies and what they can do for us as producers, we need to consider what downstream effect the implementation of that technology may have for our customers. Will it change the workflow? Will it change deliverables? Will it not be able to do something that our customers expect?

This could be something small and easily worked through, or it could be a big shift, like completely changing the online cloud review and approval process. It might be invisible, like using a different OVP to put the client’s video on a white-label page, or it could come with gotchas like viewer comments can’t be attached to the video on replay. We need to be aware of the whole takeaway from the client’s point of view.

We need to consider the business aspect too. If your company is growing and it needs to add cameras or other gear on a certain timeline, will those new products be available when you need them? How many times has a product been announced and then shipping takes months, or the product changes before it gets delivered? Or when it does finally ship, it arrives with unexpected flaws. Or it doesn’t ship at all.

These issues not only affect our ability to produce shows reliably; they affect our ability to deliver what the client expects us to provide. New grill or not, a diner still wants their hamburger cooked the way they like it. They don’t care about problems with your new gear. They don’t care that a company didn’t deliver cameras they announced last year. They just want the video they hired you to deliver.

So as 2024 ramps up, and we’re all looking for ways to do more, sometimes “tried and true” is worth more than the cool new tool you just saw on the expo floor. Consider adding what the new tool offers like extra pickles at no charge. And when you see how it fits into your production workflow, how reliable it is, and work out any gotchas then you can more confidently integrate it into everything else.

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