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BlackMagic Design denies rumors – or do they?

Peter Chamberlain from BlackMagic Design did deny any rumors (guess which ones?) that they are working on the cheaper control surface, believing that the segment is well saturated by other manufacturers. This is of course based on an assumption that the lowest segment is the price range that AVID, Tangent and JL Cooper are targetting, ie. around $1500-$2000. I must admit, that the release of Tangent Element, with the basic control surface at the cost of about $1200 is interesting, however it is still far above what I would consider the real democratization barrier – around $500-$700.

I understand all the limitations of such pricing, including the fact that this kind of surface would be looked by all proffessionals as a toy, which it would indeed be out of necessity of using cheap materials. I still believe it can be done, if R&D costs can be covered, and that it would introduce more people to color grading, than all the plugins combined.

It might of course be my wish to have at my disposal something that I’m currently not able to afford. But I also can’t help but to notice certain wording in Peter’s message. Namely:

…we have no plans for a cheaper panel at NAB. (emphasis added)

So… will anyone pick up the challenge? Or is my premise inherently flawed, and the future of color grading lies somewhere else?

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2 Responses to BlackMagic Design denies rumors – or do they?

  1. Will says:

    Obviously, necromancing an old post, but… I think the democratization of grading lies in virtual control surfaces rather then inexpensive special purpose hardware. An iPad hits your $500 price point, and a cheap android tablet will get you several for that price. I think an app that provides touch sensitive on screen color balls will be within the reach of many because it uses already widely deployed hardware. The dream of a really usable, cheap hardware surface seems almost as elusive as ever. While more people than ever are doing video editing which would seem to imply a large market, the bulk of the editors in the world are just making things for YouTube and the like and really aren’t going to invest the time to learn a special purpose color tool, let alone investing the money and deskspace in an addon for it. I hope I am wrong, but general purpose, ‘good enough’ solutions have been the trend for a long time now.

    • BartW says:

      Hi Will. Thanks for your comments.

      Actually, there are a few iPad apps that already provide the functionality that you’re writing about, one of them even published by Tangent themselves. I have no idea how successful it has been, but I suspect it is viewed more as a curiosity, than a really useful device. You might delve even further back in time and take a look at my post about the importance of tactile input. This is precisely why I believe that touchscreens will at most be a poor substitute.

      I think with Resolve Lite and the addition of Speedgrade to Adobe suite color tools will become more main-stream in the mind of editors, especially freelancers and small post boutiques. Even despite the lack of “critical” monitoring equipment, we already see more and more people dabbling in color correction, and wanting to have tools for speedy work. I might be a year or two off, but I can easily see it as the natural step in the democratization of grading. I even investigated the subject myself, and budget-wise I believe it is achieveable, if you can cover the costs of development. This is why I think BlackMagic is in the best position of all the known players to achievie it. And the market is already here. And it’s growing.

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