Chris Brown, Exec. VP, Conventions & Business Operations, National Association of Broadcasters
Barbara Griffith, President, SCL Equipment Finance
Marius Ciocirlan, Co-Founder/CEO, ShareGrid
René Morch, Product Manager, DPA Microphones
James DeRuvo, Editor-in-Chief, doddleNEWS
Larry Jordan: Tonight, on the Buzz, we are introducing a new segment, called NAB Insight; where we got behind the scenes and talk with the folks who are staging, or presenting at our industry’s largest trade show. As our lead off guest, we’ve invited Chris Brown, the Executive Vice President for Conventions and Business for NAB; to talk about their plans for this year’s show and highlight some of the new features they’ve added for this year.
Larry Jordan: Next, we compare the benefits of purchasing, versus renting your production gear. When the time comes to purchase, Barbara Griffith, the President of SCL Equipment Finance, can help you more than a bank; as she explains tonight. Or, when you need to rent gear, a new web service called Share Grid connects equipment owners with equipment renters.
Larry Jordan: Tonight, CEO Marius Ciocirlan explains why he created ShareGrid and how they differ from traditional rental houses.
Larry Jordan: Next, most of us have done projects on the road, but DPA Microphones is taking remote broadcasts to a whole new level. They’ve partnered with JPL, to put a DPA microphone on the next Martian Rover; to provide live audio and video of Mars landing in February 2021. René Morch, Head of Project Management for DPA Microphones explains what they are doing.
Larry Jordan: All this, plus James DeRuvo with our weekly doddleNEWS update. The Buzz starts now.
Male Voiceover: Since the dawn of digital filmmaking, Authoritative: One show serves a worldwide network of media professionals. Current: Uniting industry experts. Production: Filmmakers. Post-production: And content creators around the planet. Distribution: From the media capital of the world, in Los Angeles, California, the Digital Production Buzz goes live now.
Larry Jordan: Welcome to the Digital Production Buzz; the world’s longest running podcast for the creative content industry; covering media production, post-production and marketing around the world. Hello, my name is Larry Jordan.
Larry Jordan: The Buzz has provided in-depth coverage of NAB for ten years; it’s a chance for me to return to my roots of live broadcast and share with you, interviews and activities happening live on the trade show floor.
Larry Jordan: Earlier this year, NAB asked if we would be interested in working more closely with them; not just in covering this year’s show, but in helping our listeners understand all the additional resources, both free and paid, that NAB provides during the show, that are away from the show floor. The more we got to talking, the more I realized that there was a whole lot of great conferences, presentations and information that I didn’t know about and I’ve been going to NAB for more than 30 years.
Larry Jordan: The best thing that any of us can do to keep up with all the changes that we’re surrounded with, is to keep learning. My goal, over these next eight weeks, leading up to NAB, is to help all of us learn what NAB makes available; so that you can see, not only the latest toys on the show floor, but learn how to best integrate them into your business in these additional sessions. We call this segment NAB Insight and we’ll have a new one every week. There’s no better way to start than with the man that is heading up the planning for the entire NAB event, Chris Brown. He’ll join us right after the news.
Larry Jordan: By the way, if you enjoy The Buzz, please give us a positive rating and review in the iTunes store. We appreciate your support, to help us grow our audience.
Larry Jordan: Now it’s time for our weekly doddleNEWS update, with James DeRuvo. Hello James, what’s the news this week?
James DeRuvo: Larry, it’s the second week of February already.
Larry Jordan: It is, the time has flied by. In another two or three breaths it’s going to be NAB; which is two months away.
James DeRuvo: What is it, eight weeks? Good grief?
Larry Jordan: What’s our lead story?
James DeRuvo: Nikon wants you to trade in your DSLR and they don’t care what DSLR you have, for a new Z series camera and they’re willing to pay you to do it. Less than four months after announcing the new Z7 and Z6 full frame mirrorless cameras, Nikon looks to be boosting sales by offering a trade up to Z promotion. This promotion will give users up to $400, plus the value of your DSLR, for any Z7 series camera; or $200 in trading up to the Z6 mirrorless camera and Nikon is also offering an additional $100 cashback for the FTZ lens mount adaptor when you buy your mirrorless camera.
James DeRuvo: Meanwhile, for our listeners in Europe, users are getting up to €500 cashback when you purchase a Z series mirrorless camera and you don’t have to trade in your camera and, if you do the conversion rate, that’s an additional $172 over what we’re getting here in the States.
Larry Jordan: You’ve mentioned before that DSLR sales are declining. Is this a way for Nikon to encourage users to move to mirrorless cameras?
James DeRuvo: I think it may be and, soon or later, everybody will. But many are speculating that, while Nikon’s PR campaign kept users excited for the launch of the Z series, that really hasn’t translated into the kind of camera sales that Nikon was hoping for. By offering this trade in promotion, it should stimulate users, who are on the bubble, to go ahead and pull the trigger. As for the death of the DSLR, well I don’t really think the DSLR is going to die any time soon; at least not for a while; because there are enough diehard DSLR users out there to keep it going.
Larry Jordan: Okay, Nikon’s our lead story, what’s next?
James DeRuvo: Blackmagic is addressing battery issues with a camera update to the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K; so this update version, I think it’s 6.1, fixes an issue on how the camera monitors battery life, to make it more accurate. Plus, it better manages the battery power consumption, to extend it. Plus, also, they’ve added support for pixel remapping; that will recalibrate your pixels for more accurate color and dynamic range, as time goes on and improved autofocus performance and several housekeeping fixes.
Larry Jordan: Fixing bugs is always a good idea; what’s behind this?
James DeRuvo: Well, filmmakers love the images coming out of the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K; I mean, I’ve seen the footage, it’s gorgeous. Their chief gripe has been that the camera could suddenly shut down from a dead battery, even though the camera says there’s nearly half of the battery life remaining. Apparently, it’s just very poor at estimating how much battery life you have.
James DeRuvo: Listening to user feedback, Blackmagic has a fix that not only more accurately shows you what battery life you have left, but it better manages the camera power to extend that battery life even further. But for me, I like the recalibration of your pixels option. That enables you to keep your color and brightness accurate as time goes on and I think that’s a nifty feature.
Larry Jordan: I’m sensing a trend here. We’ve covered Nikon and Blackmagic; so, what other camera manufacturer caught your eye this week?
James DeRuvo: Sony is offering a high frame rate license for the Sony VENICE Camera and it will be coming this Summer. Version four of the camera update will open up frame rates up to 120 frames per second in 4K and 60 frames per second in 6K, with the new firmware update and a purchased HFR license. Support for Sony’s XOCN XT codec is also available, shooting in 4K; when using the AXS-R7 external recorder. Boy, you’ve just got to love Sony’s proprietary obsession. They will also have frame rates of up to 60 frames per second in 4K ProRes and XCD.
Larry Jordan: Great, just what we need, another new codec. How much is this thing going to cost?
James DeRuvo: How much is it going to cost? Well we don’t really know yet. But Sony expects to ship it in June of 2019; so I’m guessing we’ll have a clear picture come NAB time. Meanwhile, version three isn’t out yet; it will offer 6K and 5.7K widescreen options as well and that will be available next month.
Larry Jordan: Well that’s a lot of news about cameras, what other stories are you covering this week?
James DeRuvo: Other stories we’re following include, RØDE is launching their My RØDE Cast podcast competition. You can win up to $100,000 for making a two to three minute podcast and we finally have a price for the Panasonic S1 and S1R mirrorless cameras. They’re about $2,500 body only for the S1 and $3,700 body only for the S1R.
Larry Jordan: Where can we go on the web to learn more about the stories you and your team are covering?
James DeRuvo: All these stories and more can be found at doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: James DeRuvo is the Editor-in-Chief of doddleNEWS and joins us every week. We’ll see you next Thursday.
James DeRuvo: Have a good weekend.
Larry Jordan: Here’s another website I want to introduce you to, doddlenews.com. DoddleNEWS gives you a portal into the broadcast, video and film industries. It’s a leading online resource, presenting news, reviews and products for the film and video industry. DoddleNEWS also offers a resource guide and crew management platform specifically designed for production. These digital call sheets, along with their app, directory and premium listings, provide in-depth organizational tools for busy production professionals.
Larry Jordan: DoddleNEWS is a part of the Thalo Arts community; a worldwide community of artists, filmmakers and storytellers. From photography, to filmmaking; performing arts to fine arts and everything in between, Thalo is filled with the resources you need to succeed. Whether you want the latest industry news, need to network with other creative professionals, or require state of the art online tools to manage your next project, there’s only one place to go, doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: Chris Brown is the Executive Vice-President for Conventions and Business Operations at the National Association of Broadcasters. He and his team are responsible for producing all of the NAB’s major events; including the NAB Show Las Vegas and the NAB Show New York. Hello Chris, welcome back.
Chris Brown: Hello Larry, how are you? Good to be with you again.
Larry Jordan: Well I’m delighted to welcome you as the inaugural guest of our new series called NAB Insight; which leads us up to this year’s show. What are your plans coming up for April?
Chris Brown: Oh, lots of things in the works Larry, as you know. Here we are, really about, almost exactly two months out; not that we’re counting and we are in the shoot, as it were, in terms of really starting to put the finishing touches on things. In some cases we’re, you know, still in process on some of our key programs; particularly on the education and conference side. As you know, that’s a process that we’ll be tucking in right up until the last minute, as we kind of get the speakers finalized, panels prepped and a lot of work goes into that.
Chris Brown: But we’re excited about the show, you know, there’s quite a lot going on. As we talked last year, pace of change is and continues to be unbelievable; which, you know, always gives us a lot of things to focus on and bring to it. We’re excited about how it’s all shaping up and, so far, pre-registration is running strong, we’re a little bit ahead of last year, which is a good sign; so right now, our momentum is feeling pretty good.
Larry Jordan: Let’s get into the specifics and let’s start with the theme. What’s our focus?
Chris Brown: The theme this year is every story starts here and you’ll see some variants on that, as we message out, to kind of get people to actually think about that and kind of put themselves in the middle of that idea; which is, your story starts here. But, you know, this is a little bit of a turn from where we have been the last couple of years; we’ve been sort of trying to really focus on the convergence side of what’s happening and to talk about the idea around the converging of media, entertainment and technology. That was our met theme that we had for the last couple of years; which we felt really did do a good job of kind of describing the dynamics of how those three industries are sort of coming together.
Chris Brown: It was also something that, you know, appealed to a bit more of the technical side of what we do and was a little less about the emotion of what’s behind the industry that we’re all in. In reality, that’s what I love about the show is that, the people who come and participate, the people who engage and help us put this together, they’re in this business because they’re passionate about it and, at the core, it’s about storytelling and that’s what production, post-production, distributing this content, making great content is all about.
Chris Brown: Through this theme, I think we’re just trying to bring it back to that and also just highlight the fact that, guess what, it’s been talked about a lot over the last year too; content is still …. No matter what you say, we can have the show be about and talk about all the greatest technology on the planet; but all the great technology on the planet can’t make a really bad story that much better. That’s kind of what we’re focused on, you know, with the theme this year.
Larry Jordan: One of the things that I learned in talking with you in past years is how far in advance of a show you have to work on your planning, from a year to a year and a half; which means, you’re looking at your crystal balls last Summer, trying to figure out where the industry is going this Spring. What are the key trends that you’re focusing on, on the show floor and in the conference, for this year?
Chris Brown: Great question Larry. It is an interesting process and, you know, I think we do our best. We try to leave ourselves a couple of to be determined kinds of opportunities, whether that’s on the floor or in the sessions; so that we can fill them in a little bit later. But this year, getting to answer your question, I think I point first to some of the new things that we have on the floor and one of the concepts that we’re really focused on this year is to bring a bit more of the education on the floor concept to the show. That’s giving people the opportunity to kind of engage in, you know, predominantly shorter form kinds of content; presentations, short panels, individual presentations, some demo presentations, that type of thing, in theaters that we’ve laid throughout the show floor.
Chris Brown: This year, there’ll be some that are coming back from last year; things like our podcasting pavilion, which actually did really well last year. Podcasting is a real thing, obviously, and a growing thing. To that, we’ve added four new pieces; AI in Cloud; I’m calling it the AI in Cloud Campus; so bringing in a little bit more focus and sharper focus around AI and, of course, Cloud and all that’s meaning for workflow these days.
Chris Brown: Destination 5G is another area. 5G is something we just felt like we needed to talk about, one way or the other and, at this point, because it’s kind of there but not quite there, we still thought it was more about discussion; so it made sense for education and theatre and probably on the floor and less so, you know, a big formal rollout through conferences.
Chris Brown: Esports; so we have something called the Esports experience. I’m really excited about this, because I just think there’s so many threads here that sit at the core of our show and the media and entertainment world and this slice of what we do is really growing and gaining momentum.
Chris Brown: The fourth new piece is something we’re calling the In-Vehicle Experience; so that’s about the automobile; from an in-car entertainment experience perspective, what that means to people in this business and what it might mean in the future. There’s going to be a lot more opportunity, you know, in vehicles and I think in the future, this evolves just from your personal automobile, to moving vehicles of all kinds.
Larry Jordan: Before we run out of time, tell me about Birds of a Feather; what’s that?
Chris Brown: Birds of a Feather is actually a new program we’re introducing, to specifically dig in and address the needs of the production and post-production community, the cine production community, if you will, with programs that are kind of built by them for them. We are going to be reaching out to a lot of the guilds, unions, societies and other groups that really represent the craftsmen in this business and inviting them in; to kind of talk about their needs, challenges and opportunities and do it, as the name would suggest, in more of a peer to peer sharing type of way.
Chris Brown: We’ll have programs that will be done in traditional meeting space, in the convention center; but we’re going to also link that to a new feature on the show floor, which we’re hoping will be kind of a central gathering spot for that production, post, cine community, that we’re going to call Cine Central. This is truly still in the works; you won’t find any information on it yet anywhere, because we’re still building it, getting support and getting participants kind of fully lined up.
Chris Brown: But it will be in the Central Hall, which is kind of where a lot of that production equipment and technology is displayed and, again, it will be about gathering place, quick demos, seeing the rock stars, hearing from those people that are on the line doing this day to day; so, again, a lot of peer to peer, a lot of by the community for the community. We’re excited about that and we feel we need to do more of this for a lot of the different communities in our show and this will be, you know, some of the early efforts we’re looking at, to kind of do that for at least this side of the community.
Larry Jordan: What would you say to somebody who has attended NAB in the past, but is still on the fence about whether they should attend this year? How would you encourage them to attend?
Chris Brown: Well I think I’d point right away to that place of change. Again, I just think, at this point, you know, it’s so critical that people be engaged with others in their industry; whether those are, you know, partners, collaborators, or even competitors, to kind of understand how the different sides of our business are trying to approach this amazing and significant change that we’re all working through. To understand, really, what the drivers are, what those new trends are; both from a back-end perspective, which you see directly at the show; so the technology and all of those drivers that are impacting that.
Chris Brown: But also, you know, there’s a lot of discussion at the show about the business side of it; which means consumer perspective and how people are looking at consumers and the data that’s represented there and how they’re doing a better job of serving that consumer base and, therefore, what that means for those businesses as well.
Chris Brown: You know, we do our best to kind of present that full landscape and then highlight as much of the new, or at least encourage conversation and debate; to help bring all those good thoughts, ideas and sharing out. I think it just gets down to, you know, look, it’s a really, really unique time that we’re rolling through and the more information you have, the more understanding you have of how that landscape is evolving, I think the better of you’re going to be going forward. There just isn’t another place like our event, that brings all of that together.
Larry Jordan: Chris, for people that want to register for this year’s event, where can they go on the web?
Chris Brown: Our website is nabshow.com and just about on every page of the site you’ll find an opportunity to bounce to a registration site; with options and all the different packages that are available there.
Larry Jordan: Chris, thank you so much. That website is nabshow.com and Chris Brown is the Executive Vice-President for Conventions and Business Operations at NAB and, Chris, thanks for joining us today.
Chris Brown: Appreciate that Larry, thank you for having me.
Larry Jordan: Bye-bye.
Larry Jordan: Barbara Griffith is the President of SCL Equipment Finance. Business need capital, so they can grow, or purchase new equipment, or even update older technology and SCL has been a leader in providing capital financing for more than 25 years. Hello Barbara, welcome back.
Barbara Griffith: Hello Larry, thank you for having me.
Larry Jordan: Tonight, we’re looking at different ways for filmmakers to get the gear they need; either by renting it, or purchasing it. To get us started, how would you describe what SCL Equipment Finance does?
Barbara Griffith: SCL Equipment Finance is an equipment finance company and many of the users that are renting equipment right now will one day want to own their piece of equipment. For example, if they’re renting a RED digital camera and they’re renting that camera for $300 a day, but they really only need that camera maybe three or four times a year, it would be best that they go ahead and use a rental company and rent that equipment.
Barbara Griffith: On the other side, if that production company is using that camera three or four times a month and their payment is, let’s say, $500 a month for that gear, then it might be a wise decision to go ahead and finance that equipment, rather than rent the equipment. They would have usage of that equipment at any time.
Barbara Griffith: Business is very good, we had our biggest year last year, we‘ve had a great first 30 days in January. Businesses are continuing to invest in their companies.
Larry Jordan: Businesses can be large or they could be small and large purchases require good credit. What can we do to make ourselves look more attractive to a finance company?
Barbara Griffith: Anybody, whether you’re a consumer, or a business, we have an Experian credit report; so that would be Experian, Transunion, Equifax. Those are the three reporting agencies that report on our personal credit. Once a year, everyone, whether you’re a business, or just simply a consumer, should check their personal credit. There is one credit reporting agency that’s called annualcreditreport.com; you can go on that site and you can pull your credit once a year.
Barbara Griffith: Take a look at that credit, if you see something that is derogatory, you can get online and dispute it right from that website; so make sure that you do look at your personal credit, if you see collections, if you see lates, you must take care of those. Your best credit score that you can get is 800; anything less than 650 is a problem; 670, you’re in a seed marketplace; meaning that, you’re going to get a higher interest rate on anything that you purchase. You want to kind of push to about a 700 and it can easily be done by just paying your bills on time and keeping track of your personal credit.
Larry Jordan: Since not all film projects make the big bucks, sometimes we do get behind and what can we do if our credit rating is lower than we’d like; aside from paying our bills on time?
Barbara Griffith: You should call your creditors and let them know, I’m going to be late, or I’m going to make a half of a payment and really connect with your creditors. But again, the credit reporting agencies are there for a reason; the ability to pay your debt. That’s why they report and then your banking institutions are there to give you debt, let’s call it; whether that’s a mortgage, or an equipment loan, or a credit card, or a car and so, they have to determine the risk versus your ability to pay back. Best suggestion is, don’t overdo it; there’s nothing wrong with being conservative, so that you have the ability to pay your bills.
Larry Jordan: You’ve talked about a personal credit score, but is there a business credit score and, if so, what’s the difference?
Barbara Griffith: Very good question. You have two credit reports when you’re a business; whether that’s a proprietorship, a corporation, an LLC. All companies need to understand that your personal credit and your business credit are really two different entities.
Barbara Griffith: Let’s just say that John is a Film Producer and he has got good credit; let’s say it’s 680 and his business name is ABC Films. He wants to buy a camera, he gets the camera loan and he pays that camera loan on time. Now he’s created business debt under ABC Productions; because ABC Productions is the one that’s paying the bill, not John the customer, the proprietorship, but ABC Productions. Then they will be created a business report and those business reports range from Dun and Bradstreet. They’re an independent company, they’re not owned by Federal Government, but they rate on businesses; how well does your business pay back their debt.
Barbara Griffith: Then there’s Experian; Experian also has a business profile that they can report to. The last thing is PayNet, which is a new way; it’s been around no more than 15 years. All banks will report business debt; how well does John at ABC Productions pay his camera loan? John lands a large contract with Disney and he needs $100,000 worth of new equipment to produce this new gig with Disney. He applies for a new loan, for a piece of equipment we’ll say, the lenders will now look at either Dun and Bradstreet, PayNet and/or the Experian credit report, to see how, not so much John, but his company has been paying their bills.
Barbara Griffith: Now in John’s case, he’s been paying his bills on time; so that’s going to give the credit underwriting a lot better feeling about how John manages his debt and how he buys equipment for his company, because he now has a profile for ABC Productions, just like he has a profile for John under a personal credit history.
Larry Jordan: For people are weighing where to get their money to purchase equipment, how do they decide who to get financing from?
Barbara Griffith: A good way to figure out where to get your funding is through the vendor that sells the equipment. Mr Vendor, do you have a finance company? That’s always a good stop. A lot of clients think that they have to walk into their bank, like, Wells Fargo, or Bank of America and that’s not always the easiest thing to do. Remember that they’re federally regulated and it’s very hard to get that type of financing programs through a traditional banking network.
Barbara Griffith: Equipment Financing is a number one way that businesses will buy equipment; because the rules are much easier. Remember that our collateral is the equipment. Always ask the vendor that you’re buying the equipment from and that usually will direct you into a reliable source.
Barbara Griffith: You know, some of the biggest problems I see in our industry is that they have no clue that we even exist; so they’re out there all year long, trying to save money to buy that piece of equipment for that next gig and that’s really hard; when they could actually get a financing program to help pay for that piece of equipment. As that piece of equipment works and producing an income, there is the ability to have financing.
Larry Jordan: We know the banks aren’t going to go anywhere, but SCL is a small company, how do you reassure us that you’re trustworthy?
Barbara Griffith: Time in business is very important. We’ve been in business 25 years and we’ve never changed our name; we’ve been pretty steady in the community. We are contracted out with different banks; both from Wall Street, all the way to traditional key banks. How do you know we’re trustworthy? That’s a very good question Larry and, you know, I shop too; I shop for things and sometimes I have to just feel in my gut, do I trust these people? I would also do a Google review; what does the Google review say? That’s a very good one.
Barbara Griffith: You want to always work with a reputable company, no matter what. I prefer to tell the clients to go to a smaller bank, a credit union, where you can talk to Joe and you can say, “Joe, I need a credit line” And Joe can help you, or at least tell you the guidelines to get that credit line. A lot of times it’s the Google reviews and just following your instinct of what that company sounds like on the phone.
Larry Jordan: For people who feel they need to get their next capital loan from you, where can they go on the web, to learn more about SCL Equipment Finance?
Barbara Griffith: Google SCL Equipment Finance and it will pop up and, on that website, we have a calculator, we have information on how to look at your credit, we have information on leasing versus buying, renting versus buying; so, the website has a lot of valuable information. We do specialize in the broadcast industry; so we know that industry well and we understand that client base.
Larry Jordan: Barbara Griffith is the President of SCL Equipment Finance and, Barbara, as always, it’s fun to chat. Thank you so much for sharing your time.
Barbara Griffith: Thank you Larry.
Larry Jordan: Marius Ciocirlan is the Co-Founder and CEO of ShareGrid; a peer to peer marketplace where filmmakers and photographers make money renting their video and photo equipment to other local creatives; while letting ShareGrid handle ID checks, payment and insurance. Before he founded ShareGrid, he was a Senior Product Designer at Groupon. Hello Marius, welcome.
Marius Ciocirlan: Hello, thank you for having me.
Larry Jordan: It is my pleasure and thank you for sharing your time with us today. I know that I read about it in the open, but give me a better description of what ShareGrid does.
Marius Ciocirlan: The simplest and easiest way I typically describe it is, like the Airbnb for camera equipment. It’s pretty simple. If you have a lot of equipment, photography equipment, lighting equipment, audio equipment, video equipment that you’re not using all the time, you can rent it out to somebody locally.
Marius Ciocirlan: We have a marketplace where you can list it and then people will rent it directly from you. You either accept or deny their request. But we kind of handle everything in between; the contracts, the insurance, the payment, the verifications; stuff like that and then everyone meets up locally and they exchange their gear and it’s a great way to make a little bit extra money, meet new people in the community and put the equipment to work when you’re not using it.
Larry Jordan: Why did you decide to start the company?
Marius Ciocirlan: I originally went to Film School; so, coming out of Film School, a lot of my friends kind of went down the path where they decided to invest in a lot of equipment, hoping that having the equipment would increase their chances to get hired as a freelancer. I was a little bit more risk adverse and decided to go down the corporate path and got a corporate job; but a lot of my friends ended up buying all this equipment.
Marius Ciocirlan: You know, sometimes they would get jobs, but sometimes they wouldn’t; so their equipment would be sitting around. I kept on hearing that they were planning on renting it out, but there was not a lot of great options out there. Craigslist was around, but that wasn’t necessary very safe and then renting out to friends was a good option, but that didn’t happen very frequently.
Marius Ciocirlan: By the time I thought of ShareGrid I kind of moved on out of the film industry; I started working at Groupon, designing their mobile app and being in Silicon Valley, where I was based, Airbnb was very prominent and I thought, that’s as great concept to get underutilized assets to work. The idea of helping my friends really popped into my head. My Co-Founder, Arash, is also a photographer; he kind of had the same idea and we decided to partner up on it and work together.
Larry Jordan: There’s lots of rental houses for production gear, especially in larger cities. Why would somebody consider using ShareGrid?
Marius Ciocirlan: Like I mentioned, I went to Film School; so, in Film School, renting from rental houses was a little bit scary. Being new to the industry, renting from a rental house, you typically have to call them up; if you looked at their website, they wouldn’t necessary have prices upfront on their websites. The first question would be, what’s your budget and you would tell them your measly small budget and they would sometimes almost scoff at you; like, oh, I have to deal with you.
Marius Ciocirlan: That wasn’t very welcoming and then, furthermore, if we got through the negotiation of how much I would end up paying for all the equipment, if it was available, then the hard question would be, which is, do you have insurance? Most of the time I wasn’t aware where I’d get insurance and, by the time I would talk to brokers, get all the insurance paperwork, half my budget would go towards insurance, it was just really challenging and it would take some time.
Marius Ciocirlan: That’s why we decided to build ShareGrid. One of the reasons was because, we wanted to make it easier, we wanted to make it straightforward; where you go on a website, you see the prices, the prices you see are the prices you pay, there’s no haggling, insurance is as easy as pressing a few buttons and you checkout online; so you don’t have to talk to anybody on the phone or anything. That convenience and really price, making sure that you could see upfront price transparency.
Larry Jordan: Let’s focus on this insurance issue for just a second. If I’ve spent $50,000 and bought an ARRI Alexa, I’m really nervous about giving that to somebody that I don’t know; though I would love to get some money back to pay for it. How do I guarantee that I’m not going to lose a $50,000 camera, if it comes back broken? Walk me through that scary part of this picture.
Marius Ciocirlan: Whenever I tell somebody the idea, they said, “Wow, that’s a great idea, but how am I going to get covered?” That’s the second question. Before we even launched ShareGrid, we spent six months figuring out insurance and the way it works on ShareGrid is that, every renter is required to have coverage.
But what we’ve done is, made it really easy for those renters to get coverage; so when an owner of an, let’s say, Alexa puts up their gear, we require for them to list their replacement value. Based on the replacement value, we require the renter to make sure to have enough coverage to cover 100% of that replacement value. The way we make it really easy for renters to purchase their insurance is that we’ve made an exclusive partnership with Athos Insurance; which is a leading Insurance Broker in Los Angeles.
Marius Ciocirlan: Basically, renters fill out an application and it’s all online and they can purchase insurance up to $750,000. The really cool thing is that, once you purchase that insurance as a renter, anyone you rent on from ShareGrid will automatically get certificates of insurance, without them having to do anything; it’s all automatic. Furthermore, if you purchase insurance from ShareGrid, from Athos, that insurance also works outside of ShareGrid; so, you’re not stuck within just our system, you could use that on any other rental house. But the nice thing about the owner is that, they receive a certificate of insurance for that rental, knowing that they’re going to be covered for that replacement value of that camera.
Larry Jordan: Where does ShareGrid make its money?
Marius Ciocirlan: We make our money on each transaction; basically, we take 15% from the owner’s side every time their camera rents out and then we make a small convenience fee from the renter’s side; it’s five percent on the renter’s side.
Larry Jordan: The owner of the camera sets the rental price, knowing they’re going to pay a 15% commission to you. So they’ve got control over what their gear rents for. Is that a correct statement?
Marius Ciocirlan: Exactly. When you go to our website, you list you gear, we give you some suggestions where you should price your gear on, based on data we have, based on the market and what that camera’s currently kind of renting for. But you’re in complete control, when you want to rent out your gear and for how much you want to rent out your gear.
Larry Jordan: One of the big issues that you were trying to solve is the issue of insurance. But the other issue is, going to a website, looking at all the choices, as a rentee, and not having a clue what you need. How can you help somebody who’s, say, going on their first or second shoot; or is inexperienced in determining what gear they need, to make sure they get the right gear for their project?
Marius Ciocirlan: Nowadays, there’s so much education now online and that definitely helps. But I think, people are still, what is an anamorphic lens? Why should I shoot anamorphic versus a different lens? We actually put out a lot of education content on our YouTube; we created the largest ever anamorphic lens test and other similar lens tests; we’ve done various blogs and tutorials. That’s one way we try to educate people on what they should be renting.
Marius Ciocirlan: Furthermore, if they do have questions, our entire customer service team is in-house, everybody that works for us has worked in the film, or photography industry; so they’re just knowledgeable about this industry. Then we do have a concierge on call as well; so, if you ever want to talk to somebody and this person, who has worked a rental house prior to working at ShareGrid for over four years, has the knowledge to be able to give advice on what people should be renting.
Larry Jordan: Now you’ve got this up and running, what gets you excited about coming to work every day?
Marius Ciocirlan: Really it’s the content that gets made. I mean, we do hundreds of thousands of rental a year; so it’s just been wonderful to see all the content that has been created. The one big thing is that we’re helping up and coming filmmakers; it’s the person that doesn’t necessarily have a huge budget, but wants to shoot their feature film with the Alexa Mini, but, without the help of ShareGrid, maybe they would have otherwise not been able to and now they’ve created a wonderful film, or a wonderful piece of content.
Marius Ciocirlan: That’s what gets me up is hearing those stories; also fixing all the bugs and problems that constantly come up. Making sure that we’re reliable and we’re there for our customers when they need us.
Marius Ciocirlan: That’s the short-term drive. But the long-term kind of passion is hearing those stories and featuring those members that have created just this wonderful work.
Larry Jordan: Marius, for people that want to learn more about ShareGrid, or rent gear using ShareGrid, where can they go on the web?
Marius Ciocirlan: Just sharegrid.com. If people are looking to list equipment on ShareGrid, we just released a data report called insights.sharegrid.com and it gives you our top most rented gear; how much money it makes every single month and the average rental prices. This can be a great tool, if you’re looking to get into renting out your gear, for guiding you as to what gear does really well on the website. If anyone has any questions, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Larry Jordan: That’s sharegrid.com and Marius Ciocirlan is the CEO and Co-Founder of ShareGrid. Marius, thanks for joining us today.
Marius Ciocirlan: Thank you for having me.
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Larry Jordan: We all know about wireless microphones; but DPA is redefining remote, by working with JPL to put a DPA microphone on Mars. Here to tell us more is René Morch. He’s the Head of Product Management for DPA Microphones and first started working with the company back in 2006. Hello René, welcome.
René Morch: Thank you very much Larry. Thank you.
Larry Jordan: How would you describe your role at DPA?
René Morch: As you said, I’m heading the Product Management; which means, my role is to secure that we have the right products in our portfolio; maintaining what we have; sometimes let some products die and, of course, seeking new opportunities and seeking to find new ways to help our industry, with new products.
Larry Jordan: Before we shift our gaze to Outer Space, I have to ask, what was it that first got you interested in microphones in the first place?
René Morch: Since I was, I guess, 15, I was working as a Sound Engineer, as a front of house and monitor Sound Engineer; so I’ve been working with professional audio for many, many years. Before I took my Engineering Degree at the university. I have had a profound interest in professional audio and, of course, Denmark is really a country of professional audio; even though we’re a fairly small country. DPA is, for me, just the best you can get.
Larry Jordan: DPA is based in Copenhagen. How did you first get involved with JPL in this project to Mars?
René Morch: Really, JPL reaching out to us. They had discovered our very small interface that goes either to an iPhone, which will not be the case on Mars, but also connects to a PC. You can use a USB interface and, with a very, very small device, you can get extremely high quality audio from any of our microphones, that can then connect via this very little device. It’s about five centimeters, two inches in diameter.
Larry Jordan: Walk me through this. What equipment are you planning to send to Mars?
René Morch: It’s an AD convertor of very high quality; it’s a two-channel device. On top of that, we have a very small pre-amplifier and our condenser capsules. The condenser capsule itself is our very famous 4006. Many, many Sound Engineers have been using this for ages. These are really the three basic things that are going up there; the AD convertor, the pre-amplifier and the capsule.
Larry Jordan: The microphone is the standard that you’ve been using for years; have you done custom work on either the pre-amp or the A to D convertor?
René Morch: The only thing that we have added, that is custom, that is not off the shelf, so to say, is putting some mouse ears, as we call it, onto the pre-amplifier; so that it can be boarded to the side of the vessel of this Rover going to Mars in 2020. That’s the only real modification that has been made to our standard items.
Larry Jordan: I think I already know the answer, but I’m going to ask anyway. How different are the products that you’re designing for Space from the products that we can buy and use in our productions?
René Morch: At a very similar level; there’s no real engineering things gone into these units. It’s really off the shelf. The only difference we made was really this mechanical automation to this kind of product.
Larry Jordan: That’s got to make you smile. You want a microphone for a production in Copenhagen, or New York, or Mars, it’s the same microphone.
René Morch: True. We just came back from them last week; we also paid a visit to the … at that point and we actually picked out the two other items that are going out there. The CEO picked one item, I picked one item and our head of R&D picked one item; so these are the ones going to Mars.
Larry Jordan: Oh wow.
René Morch: You know, we took all the serial numbers of those and said, “bye-bye.” You know, they will stay up there forever.
Larry Jordan: What’s the purpose of the project; aside from just the fact that you can brag about it to your Grandkids?
René Morch: That’s the main reason. When this Space craft enters the atmosphere of Mars, four cameras will be recording that entrance and so will our microphones. They will be turned on at this point. We can see the descent. This is what is always crucial when you put something into space, you don’t know exactly how it will end up. Will it hit the soil perfectly on the surface of Mars, or will it crash and what happens during the time when it enters the atmosphere, until it’s on the ground? That’s basically what it’s there to record.
René Morch: The whole descent stage, you know say, from this base unit until when it enters the atmosphere. It will, of course, start to generate noise; because it generates a lot of heat. At this stage, the back shell will be pushed off, what they call the Sky Crane will appear and thruster engines will start to be engaged. All of this you will be able to hear. Then, going further down towards the surface of Mars, you will see landing gear coming out; that means wires that are really lifting it down to the surface. Then these are detached, the Sky Crane flies away and, really, that’s the main mission for our part of the project. So you can see and hear what is going on at this stage.
Larry Jordan: How are you managing levels, as it’s 20 minutes to be able to talk to the microphone? By the time you’ve realized the level’s too hot, it’s too late.
René Morch: That has been tested from home. But you’re totally right, there’s about a 20 minute travel back and forth; so only about nine minutes from it’s recorded until it’s transferred to Earth. But the round trip, yes, that is about 20 minutes. You need to test everything back home and that is, of course, what you will do; just like any other job where you’re setting levels and trying to secure that you’re on the good side.
Larry Jordan: When is the launch?
René Morch: The launch itself is in August next year and then it will go in orbit, to travel towards Mars and it will touch down in February 2021.
Larry Jordan: Touchdown February 2021; that is a long time to wait.
René Morch: It’s about two years, yes it is.
Larry Jordan: What’s the part that excites you the most about this project?
René Morch: The fact that we are part of a Space adventure; because, you know, this is seen from an engineering point of view. That’s some of the most rough environments you can ever live in, so it has to withstand being lifted from the ground, the acceleration from that and all the vibration on its travel out from the Earth’s atmosphere. Leaving the Earth’s atmosphere, going into vacuum, that’s a stage that is, of course, crucial that it will survive and re-entering the atmosphere of Mars and then being able to withstand all the hassle that is there. Then being lifted down to the surface of Mars.
René Morch: Our best hope, for both NASA, JPL and us, is that it will also survive this stage and you can hear the fluid running around, heating the electronics within the Rover. The arms moving around, some of the gear making it move, etc. All these engineering skills that have been put into this are just enormous; it’s fantastic. Just being a tiny part of that is, for us, just amazing.
Larry Jordan: Are you sending a back-up device, or just sending one of everything?
René Morch: It’s actually just one of everything. Of course there’s a lot of back-up units that have already been delivered and some of them will also be used for the next couple of years, to do even further tests. A lot of tests have already been done, just to enter this stage; but the one that is going up there is really just one. It’s all about weight, so, even though it weighs only a few grams, they do consider every gram that goes up.
Larry Jordan: René for people who want to be able to follow this, or learn more about DPA Microphones in general, where can they go on the web?
René Morch: You can go to our homepage; that is dpamicrophones.com. Otherwise, just searching for NASA and you will find more information about this.
Larry Jordan: That website is all one work, dpamicrophones.com and René Morch is the Head of Product Management for DPA Microphones. René, thanks for joining us today.
René Morch: Thank you very much Larry.
Larry Jordan: You know, I was just thinking, one of my concerns, that we’ve been covering on The Buzz for a while, is that the rate of change in our industry is exceedingly stressful; it is easy to get overwhelmed. As we were talking with the team at NAB, planning our new NAB Insight segment, I was pleased to hear that they are concerned as well; so much so, that they’ve created a series of sessions called Birds of a Feather, that are free to all attendees; specifically to help us better understand where our industry is going.
Larry Jordan: As we talked, I realized that the NAB Show is the only event that has a vested interest in the success of our entire industry. Unlike a particular vendor who creates products for a specific customer base, the NAB succeeds when our entire industry is doing well. This is one of the reasons we here at The Buzz are pleased to be working with NAB; we both want our industry to do well and, with the worldwide audience of The Buzz, I’m happy to get the word out.
Larry Jordan: Each week on The Buzz, we talk with a wide variety of content creators and industry vendors; so our focus for these new NAB Insight segments is to talk with thought leaders; who can provide a different perspective to events in media and help us better understand and prepare for the future. We also want to focus on the free sessions at NAB. While the content at the NAB Conference is legendary, sometimes the cost of the conference may be more than you can afford. We want to highlight events worth attending that won’t cost extra.
Larry Jordan: The annual NAB Show is always a pivotal moment when, as an industry, we all get together to try to figure out where the future is taking us. Our NAB Insight segments are designed to give you a heads up on the sessions you really need to attend, each week, from now until NAB in April, on The Digital Production Buzz. Just something I’m thinking about.
Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests this week; Chris Brown with NAB, Barbara Griffith with SCL Equipment Finance Marius Ciocirlan with ShareGrid, René Morch with DPA Microphones and James DeRuvo with doddleNEWS. There’s a lot of history in our industry and it’s all posted to our website, at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Here you’ll find thousands of interviews all online and all available to you today. Remember to sign up for our free weekly show newsletter, that comes out every Saturday morning.
Larry Jordan: Talk with us on Twitter @DPBuZZ and Facebook at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Our theme music is composed by Nathan Dugi-Turner; with additional music provided by smartsound.com. Our Producer is Debbie Price. My name is Larry Jordan and thanks for listening to The Digital Production Buzz.