Blackmagic Design President Dan May on Cintel Acquisition
COW Library : Blackmagic Design : Debra Kaufman : Blackmagic Design President Dan May on Cintel Acquisition
On July 24, Blackmagic Design made its acquisition of Cintel International public. Cintel, which was founded in 1927, has been an enduring name in film/TV technology, and a leader in the telecine, film scanner and post production market. A long line of groundbreaking products -- including the BBC's first flying spot telecine in 1950 -- was most recently capped with the diTTo Evolution super 2K/4K data scanning system.
Following Cintel International's liquidation earlier in 2012, Blackmagic Design has acquired the intellectual property, name and brand ownership and product development rights for the Cintel diTTo and dataMill digital scanner lines, URSA, C-Reality, DSX and Millennium telecine lines as well as imageMill data management products.
Blackmagic Design President Dan May spoke with Creative COW's Debra Kaufman about what this means for the company's product line up as well as for the endurance of Cintel's R&D and the future of film.
Debra Kaufman: How long have you had your eye on Cintel?
Dan May: The company wasn't on the radar years ago, but when they went into liquidation, we started to think about what could be done and began the process of acquiring their IP (intellectual property).
What does this mean for current owners of Cintel technology?
MAY: Some of the former Cintel employees started Cine Solutions, a company based in the U.K. and U.S. that will continue to support, repair, and maintain the Cintel line. In addition to providing engineering services, Cine Solutions -- which is totally independent from Blackmagic Design -- will also offer a 24/7 maintenance help line for all users of equipment previously manufactured by Cintel International.
MAY: Part of our internal deliberation has been to talk about all the ways that film is still important. It not only represents a long tradition, but it has a creative aspect that is still not duplicated with digital technology. That's why you have major motion pictures such as Dark Knight Rising that are still shot on film, to retain the art and creative process.
This isn't a matter of right or wrong when it comes to using film or digital. There are cost and technology challenges in working with film. Digital Cinema also offers a lot: you can buy a $3,000 Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera, connect your footage to an NLE and then color correct it through Resolve and you've got an indie film.
There are a lot more pieces to the film production puzzle than a telecine, but as we look at this piece of the puzzle, we have our own curiosity. Would people use more film if it were more accessible and easier to work with? There are a lot of interesting questions about the future of film.
Beyond that, there are thousands of reels of film that people want to work with or archive. Film is one of those things that don't just go away because people start shooting Digital Cinema. It'll be around forever. Our idea is that it doesn't have a business practice based off what existed 30 years ago, in the same way that $500,000 color grading software was there when the business model supported it. We were able to acquire Cintel because no one wanted to buy $100,000 film scanners any more.
What does the acquisition mean for Blackmagic Design? What will you be doing with the assets you now own?
MAY: As much as I'd love to give you answers about what it all means, that's the conversation we are having ourselves right now. The sheer volume of technology in this acquisition is a tremendous gain. It's such a rich history and such a huge amount of IP that we will be sorting through.
There's a lot of potential in there, but we have to sort through it. We're looking at whether we want to revitalize the product line as it is, to create new products, or cherry-pick technology into existing product ranges. We're considering the possibilities. Whatever we do, it will add to the expanding and diverse range of Blackmagic Design technology!
With the Cintel acquisition, Blackmagic Design offers an even greater range of technology. What will that mean to Blackmagic Design customers in terms of workflow?
MAY: Having lived through the past 20 years of post production, we're wary of saying we want to be soup to nuts or that our customers have to use all our products from beginning to end. The "black box" or "iron grip" is something we saw and it worked poorly. We like to hand off to other products, and we like to promote that you use the products that work for you. It's very difficult to be everything for everyone.
But we also recognize the desire to build our own portfolio and empower creative individuals, as well as construct our own concoctions like our camera. If it were 10 or 15 years ago and I was sitting down to do a movie or other AV project, I'd ask what is it I'd really want to use and how can we build that all together. As a company our vision of ourselves is to follow in the footsteps of the iconic companies in our industry. To get to that level, it requires that portfolio. However, we want to do it our way, Blackmagic Design's way, which has consisted of empowering people who are creative with these tools.
When will we hear the first news about products or use of technologies resulting from the Cintel acquisition?
MAY: As per usual, IBC and NAB are big announcement times for Blackmagic Design. I don't want to commit to any particular time frame, but it won't be surprising if we put out some concepts later this year. As a company, Blackmagic Design doesn't rest on its laurels.