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Russian World Cup roulette in the Summer sunshine

Anyone ready for the new Premier League season? Nah.. me neither. The World Cup joy of seeing the Koreans outplay the Germans will live long in the memory, and the gut-wrenching tension and ultimate success of an England penalty shoot out was pretty epic, and cathartic for those old enough to remember Turin, 1990.

Just as epic was the TV production itself, and it’s a bumper 4K summer for all at the vanguard of the UK OB sector.

Anyone who has worked in and around the OB sector will know the odd year/even year conundrum, and for any NAB regulars familiar with the roulette tables, the red and black colours are a perfect visual analogy.

Every even year we have a global sporting event, conveniently arranged around the annual football season TV cash-cow juggernaut. World Cups, Olympic Games and all the warm up events around them are key to the success of the OB sector. So any OB business should be well in the black in these even years, to cope with the odd years when they may well end up in the red. See what I did there?

For the major OB hire businesses with huge inventories of the latest 4K camera channels and lenses, the appeal of a long-term World Cup/Olympic project is huge. Getting significant amounts of kit out for long periods of the summer is hugely desirable, even if the rate card goes out of the window.

Of course with so much kit out of the country for so long, the opportunities present themselves for businesses who didn’t win the World Cup work to fulfil local demand. And with a shortage of kit the theory goes that the margins on these jobs should be better as it’s not so much of a buyer’s market. Well, that’s the theory.

Much of the Russia-bound World Cup kit left the UK in June, and some still isn’t back as I write this in the second week of August. But the UK summer OB events were still huge and plentiful, and the shows must go on.

Wimbledon is an enormous broadcasting operation which happened right in the middle of the World Cup. Having the same location and facility knowledge each year helps, but the developments in technology have been fascinating. The Open Golf championship was an extraordinary technological challenge, spread over huge swathes of Eastern Scotland, and last weekend’s Women’s British Open also had some great coverage, and a British winner was the icing on the cake.

And then there is the new format European Championships “athletics” which is being billed by the BBC as a European Mini-Olympics with extended coverage on TV, on-line and red button. Gymnastics, athletics, swimming, cycling, rowing, triathlon and a new team golf event over 11 days, and all but the Athletics is being held in Scotland.

And the brilliant 1st test match in the India v England series in Birmingham. Oh, and the fantastic British Grand Prix. And some spectacular horse racing and and and …you get the idea.

I really should mention Love Island at this stage too, which also achieved huge viewing figures and was a pretty amazing technical broadcasting feat (apparently…I managed to miss it all, which may go on my list of Linked-In achievements).

It’s clear that sport is key to our nation’s TV viewing habits. Ask yourself this…do you watch ANY other live TV? Maybe the news? Our favourite Harry’s last minute goal against Tunisia became the most viewed event of the year, knocking a certain other Harry’s big day off the top spot. And the viewing figures as England progressed through the tournament were extraordinary. Of all the amazing viewing stats from the World Cup, I thought the most telling was the split of viewers for the only game that was simulcast on BBC and ITV. I thought the BBC coverage and punditry was excellent throughout, and of the 10.5 million people who watched the final, 8 million agreed with me. That’s some audience share.

It’s an issue for a commercial Broadcaster when it doesn’t capitalise on a huge potential live audience that can’t fast-forward through the ads. It’s also interesting/concerning that 17% of all ads broadcast during the World Cup were for gambling related businesses. However, as ITV were lucky enough to have the Croatia semi-final which produced a tournament-high 20M UK viewers, they ended up very much in the black. Especially as it went to extra time, so even more ads!! I imagine you could have had a bet on that happening.

So for the OB kit providers, the Premier League bread and butter returns. Given the sums of money involved though, it should really be “hand-churned dairy lacquer, gently smoothed onto a bed of organic artisanal loaf.”

Could it be any further away from a pie and a pint on the terraces?


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4 More Reasons Why

By now you all know what Adamantean does. Some of you will be existing customers already. Some will be potential customers considering financing your next equipment purchase and some of you will think it’s useful to know we’re here, but finance is probably not for you.

 

If you fall into either of the latter camps, read on; as I have put together a collection of brainworms that just might get into your head and change your thinking:

  • If your kit is earning more than it costs every month the surplus is potential profits earnt from day 1 (as long as you don’t spend it all on fancy coffee machines and Jaffa cakes before your year end).
  • If the initial outlay is lower (often just 1 rental and some vat) you can buy more kit. More kit = more revenue potential = more Jaffa cakes.
  • Keeping cash in your business rather than tied up in equipment means you have more flexibility to weather storms or take opportunities as they arise or buy that fancy coffee machine (and we can finance that too!)
  • If you ‘just buy kit outright’ can this continue as your business grows and you need more kit more often? It may be prudent to finance some smaller purchases now, so that when you suddenly need a larger sum, you’ve already built up a credit history; which will not only make it easier and quicker to secure the finance you need, but it’ll likely come at a lower interest cost too. (not exactly sure how this translates to coffee and confectionary, but I guess you could relax and enjoy a celebratory Jaffa Cake when your finance is speedily approved!)

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Media Production Show – is 2 days the new 3?

On the tube on the way home from the Media Production Show, I found myself comparing trade shows, and pondering what I need and expect from them.

I’m sure your calendar, like mine, is littered with trade show dates throughout the year, and the decision about making the effort getting to, and spending a day or more walking the aisles, is becoming more difficult as we all balance the growing demands on our time.

The key reasons anyone attend the shows are basically –

  • To sell things
  • To buy things
  • To find a new product or service
  • To meet new clients
  • To network with current clients

Adamantean is still just over a year old, and despite us all having been around a while, Sam, Gareth and I are still building our new brand, so MPS ticked several of these boxes for us.

At just 2 days, MPS seems plenty long enough for a UK show, and a day was more than enough to get around the show floor and take in a few of the seminars. I like the cinematography-oriented BSC show in February for the same reason, but theirs is Friday and Saturday which helps to accommodate freelancers, which makes a lot of sense.

Having said that though, MPS was heaving for most of the first day, and had as very positive buzz around it. I heard a lot of some of the seminars, far more than I should have done really as I didn’t get to go in to any of them, such was their popularity. The seminars seemed to have good content with great speakers, and deserved better facilities. I’m no audio specialist but a 3 foot high banner is not a good audio barrier, making the seminars hard to hear for the attendees, and were a huge distraction for the adjacent stands.

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One of many busy seminars

One key plus for MPS was the cost for exhibitors, and may well be telling for the long-term success for the show. I’m told that stand costs were less than half of the cost of BVE, for what seemed to be a broadly similar audience profile. Global manufacturers Fujinon, Cooke and Canon all had a presence there, but not at BVE. I can’t help but wonder if the cost of exhibiting was a factor in their decision?

Timing may also be a plus for MPS, as it fits better with the TV shooting schedule. BSC in February works well for the digital cinematography world as the format decisions are made then for the upcoming shooting season. There were also major product launches at this show. Sentiment seemed to be that a June show fitted well for TV between BSC, April’s NAB and September’s IBC. And its certainly warmer…anyone remember the Beast from the East?

The facilities for BVE attendees at the Excel are undoubtedly the best of any trade show location. Anyone who has sat on the floor to eat their £10/€10/$10 sandwich at Olympia / Rai / LVCC will agree I’m sure that the choice of restaurants at Excel is a joy. And Crossrail will now get you there from Soho in just 15 minutes. I just wonder what will be waiting for you when you get there.

As for the contents of the show, there were no new kit announcements to see (did I miss something?). The Telegenic OB viewing gallery was awesome, the Panasonic 4K footage  was really impressive and the Cooke show-reel of films that their lenses had been used on was extraordinary.

 

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The Telegenic production truck was pretty awesome

 

I’ve had mixed reports from friends on what they thought of MPS, but the key issue as I see it is that the structure of trade shows hasn’t changed in years. What is a trade show for? Back in the day, attendees learnt of new products at major product Trade show launches, but now it’s actually easier to find out what has been launched at a major show by reading the press releases on-line. For me, it’s the perfect environment to build a network, learn from the seminars and catch up with old friends. So MPS was a 2 out of 3, and I’m happy with that. And I picked up a nice deal so my ROI was pretty good. And I’m guessing that many of the exhibitors feel the same as the initial investment was less than other shows. If you exhibited I’d love to hear what you thought.

In my opinion, if MPS is to be the go-to UK show, it needs a bigger bar, bigger floor space for more stands, and more fit-for-purpose areas for the seminars. So basically bigger. But centrally-located, bigger venues are hard to find, and will probably cost more per square metre. Before we know it, it’ll morph in to BVE and the whole trade show merry-go-round starts again.

All aboard.

All thoughts and comments welcomed.


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See you this Tuesday?

Are you going to the Media Production Show at Olympia this week?  Gareth, Sam and I will all be there, as we see the opportunity to see so many customers, suppliers, and friends (these aren’t mutually exclusive by the way) in one place is too good to miss.

I’m curious why you are going?

  • To look at new kit? Certainly there will be an opportunity to see the latest equipment. But couldn’t you do that just as well on-line? Well, no, probably. What better way to learn about something than to actually touch it, and talk to people who know the product inside out and can tell you the things that the glossy pdf’s don’t.
  • To discover a new piece of kit ? It’s pretty tough to google-search a thing that you don’t know about. However, there are well over 100 exhibitors vying for your attention, and you’d think that at least one of them will have a “thing” that you’ve not seen before and might make your business better.
  • To listen to experts?  Frustratingly, I have an appointment on Tuesday morning as I was really looking forward to listening to Doug Allan. He was excellent on Desert Island Discs, and has some great tales of filming killer whales wave-washing seals off of ice-bergs (yes, that was him). His 7 Emmy’s and 4 BAFTA’s isn’t a bad haul for a jobbing cameraman. You might feel that this has little to do with equipment finance, so why would I be bothered. I’d argue that having a broad outlook on our industry keeps it interesting, and there are lots of speakers covering lots of topics. It’s actually what trade shows do very well.
  • To exhibit? It’s the shortest of the current merry-go-round of trade shows, which must be a relief for those who have not learnt how to say “I really shouldn’t” when a colleague offers you the next drink on a Show night.

The chances of closing a deal from scratch is remote for any of the exhibitors, but the opportunity to build networks, develop friendships and to engage on a personal level is something that a big trade show does best. And because the cost of exhibiting at this show is so much less than others, there is a good exhibitor list.

Global brands Panasonic, Fuji, Canon, AVID and Cooke will all have stands, which is interesting as none of these were at BVE. Post production is well covered too with lots of manufacturers (Editshare, AVID, GB Labs to name a few) as well as some of their major resellers (Jigsaw, Tyrell, XTFX, Altered Images).

Add in a few trade show stalwarts like JVC, Holdan and Ikegami, new entrant Sharp which has some interesting kit developments, and a small US business called Netflix, and it should add up to time well spent.

I look forward to seeing some of you there. If I’m still in the local bar after 11pm on Tuesday night, feel free to quote the “I really shouldn’t” line back to me.


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Tech ‘too costly’ for almost half of UK SMEs

It was recently reported in a study conducted by the 2018 International Business Festival, that 45% of small and medium sized businesses in the UK think upgrading technology is beyond their current spending power.

This is a very disappointing statistic, as an inability to adopt the latest technologies could seriously impact business growth prospects.

It is often the case that Investment in newer technologies can bring lower operating costs as well as improving collaboration and productivity. Currently 2 out of 3 UK workers say outdated technology hampers them in the execution of their work.

Yet only 20% of the businesses surveyed plan to invest in technology in the next three years.

But it needn’t be a case of budget over the benefits to the business. Adamantean is experienced in financing the latest cutting edge technologies and can work with you to find a solution that makes technology investment affordable right now.

With the exponential pace of technology change, who knows how far behind your business might be if you let another three years pass!


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May the Force

Spring has finally sprung and with it a flurry of new business opportunities for Adamantean.

We started the month departing a drizzly London for a surprisingly sunnier Leeds for the annual PLASA Focus tradeshow which is always a favourite in our calendar. Stand space is limited so exhibitors focus (see what they did there!) on key kit; but overwhelmingly the real focus of the show is on the networking opportunities afforded by the quality of attendees year on year.

In True PLASA style we both worked and played hard with a number of Line Array and Lighting systems under discussion and the opportunity to support interest-free finance at a console supplier open day later in the month.

The Sunny start continued to brighten our month as the warm weather turned thoughts to summer, and many of our customers started to gear up for the busy summer shooting and festival seasons.

Our Broadcast division saw us almost hit double figures of Sony Venice cameras, with three more delivered into our Pinewood customers, along with 20x PTZ cameras headed to observational documentaries, and another Arri Alexa LF.

The Post Production community also had an eye on the shooting season ahead with investments in transcoding software and Storage, as ever more productions are shooting 4K.

In the AV market we’ve been excited to get involved with cutting edge see-through LED screens that will – rather unconventionally– be mounted front of stage at Hyde Park this summer. We also funded hire stocks of Martin Professional Lighting and Martin Audio Line Arrays.

Add to all of that a complex refinance deal to facilitate one business buying another; new photo-bearing business cards for the upcoming Media Production Show; and our first own-book deal, and you’ll see it’s not just the sunshine giving us something to smile about!

Long may the sunshine, and the varied opportunities it brings, continue!


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Big Brother Is Watching You (Twice a second)

Anyone heard of ACR? Automatic Content Recognition may well be fitted in to your SmartTV already, and almost certainly will be in your next one.

Every half a second your TV takes a “screen grab” of whatever you’re watching and sends it to a master database which is also monitoring every terrestrial and OTT channel. So it can then match the screen-grab with its database to identify what live channel you’re watching. It can even recognise if it’s something that has been recorded on your DDR, or if you’re watching something On Demand from Netflix or Amazon which the database has already reviewed and processed.

This extraordinary technology allows broadcasters and commissioners access to  accurate viewing figures, and couldn’t be more removed from the old-school method of a little box on top of a tiny proportion of the nation’s TVs.  It’s amazing, and a little bit terrifying.

I learnt this at a TVConnect seminar, and whilst the show itself didn’t offer any great benefit for me or my business, every day is a school day, and the seminar I attended was stimulating and well produced. Good work guys.

Still pondering the Big Brother-esque implications of my new-found knowledge, it occurred to me that if the major film studios collaborated and shared short sections of their latest blockbusters, it might be possible to identify individual users viewing pirated content. The ISPs are unwilling (or unable) to identify pirated content on streaming devices such as Kodi, but ACR is built in to the screen, so it bypasses the need for the ISP to police the content. Sounds like a great way of identifying illegal activity, even if it does sound like something Winston Smith might have come up against.


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Are you talking to a decision maker?

Are you talking to a decision maker?

A new business needs to play to its strengths. Fairly obvious. And true for any business, but more so for a business in its infancy.

How often will you be asked by the person you called if they can call you back once they gain the knowledge or authority to give you an answer? I’m guessing quite a lot, because it happens to me too.

And herein lies perhaps our greatest strength…when you deal with Adamantean, I guarantee that you’ll be engaging with a knowledgeable decision-maker, because Sam, Gareth and I own the business.

So if you want to know what your options are for financing your next purchase (or your last one come to that) give us a call and try us out. We’ve all been around a little while and we know what we’re talking about.

Also, as it’s our business, we’ll generally pick up your call out of hours / weekends / bank holidays etc etc when the rest of the world has its feet up. Our media industry doesn’t fit around a 9-5 culture, and nor do we.


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Going out on a limb?

NAB 2018 – Getting over the FOMO factor

Who went to NAB? Of my network, I could see that many did, and I can confess to a few pangs of jealousy as my LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter feeds were full of late night exploits that I have enjoyed myself in recent years.

We decided not to go, and I’m trying to get a feel for if we made the right call. As a new business, it’s a big investment to make. I’m guessing it would have cost £4Kish a head by the time all the actual costs have added up like flights, accommodation, parking, taxis etc etc. Add in a bit on for “recreation” and it feels like you’re spending monopoly money by the end of the week.

And as important is the cost of not doing your day job. March was our best ever month, and April is looking strong too. All three of us picked up nice deals, two of which were with new clients, in the week that we would have been away. We may have missed these had we been 6 time zones and a million miles away enjoying all that Vegas has to offer.

Often a big new product launch is a great buzz-generator around a show, but 2018 has seen three big camera launches already. Sony’s Venice was announced at IBC last year, and started shipping in March to rave reviews. We’ve funded quite a few of these already and early reports from DoP’s are very positive. I’m sure the Venice timing prompted both Arri and Panavision to launch their new cameras at the London BSC show in February rather than having a global NAB launch. The Panavision XL2, and Arri’s LF camera as well as their new Signature lenses are big news, but by NAB they were already known about.

For me though, the best draw for any trade show are the networking opportunities, and I guess I’ll never know which new customer I missed out on sitting next to on the plane / meeting in a bar. We had the same decisions to make around the big Frankfurt based Prolight and Sound show, and came to the same conclusions.

It’s this FOMO factor, the Fear Of Missing Out on the next big announcement or new customer that often drives attendance at such events. I’m with Donald Rumsfeld on this one…I have unknown unknowns.

With hindsight, I think we probably made the right call, but I’m interested in all views if you feel that you made the right decision, whether you attended or chose not to. This was the first NAB where I’ve owned my own business, so it really was our own money that we were spending. It certainly focusses one’s mind on whether it was truly going to show any ROI.

The reality is that in our role, buyers might get all revved up about the shiny new kit on display, and may even place orders at the shows, but then they need to sort out how to pay for it, which is what we are good at. It generally only takes a day or two to confirm a finance facility, so we can have the money agreed long before the kit is ready to ship.

I saw lots of friends who are employees from various manufacturers making the trip, and I see the justification for going if they have clients attending. And Company global sales meetings are often planned around NAB, which makes perfect sense. But if you’re a UK-based owner of a hire company, production company, OB business, or you’re a freelance cameraman who made the trip, I’d love to hear your views if you feel that you made it pay.

Adamantean is still in its infancy, and we are growing fast, so the decision next year may be different. I did miss adding a few days on for a road trip which I’ve done the last two years. But I’m pretty sure the Grand Canyon will be there next year, and will look pretty similar to how it looked a few years back.


If you had to sum up your business in a single word what would it be?

If you had to sum up your business in a single word what would it be?

Quite a challenge isn’t it? You want your mission statement to encompass all that you do, probably across multiple disciplines and definitely across a varied customer base; so could you distil it down to just……one……. word??

I recently had this concept thrust upon me as I was trying to give my ‘elevator pitch’ to a prospective new customer and had no time for a protracted debate or ‘phone a friend’. I had to think on my feet! I opened my mouth to respond and without hesitation I said ‘Flexible’.

Now upon reflection pretty much every finance company ever will have used the ‘Fast, Flexible Finance’ line at some point – its’ nice alliteration – and you can of course add another F at the start if you’re having the conversation in the pub rather than the boardroom!

However, the more I ponder how better I could answer the question, the more convinced I am my first answer was the right answer.

Over the past couple of months, Adamantean has arranged a consortium of funders to undertake a £1.8m studio refit, funded numerous new start businesses, some buying used kit; financed a new joint purchase of a camera kit by two freelancers, paid for over £2m of kit for a customer prior to it shipping from the U.S and China and refinanced £250k of owned assets with a next day turnaround – whilst both kit and customer were out of the country. Now that’s flexible!

We’ve met with customers to sign up documents in random locations from a Toy Fair at Excel to Wembley Stadium and we’ve even undertaken a customer/credit meeting at the Eastern end of the Jurassic coast at 3pm on a Friday afternoon – admit it, there’s not many corporate bods that would do that!

Yes, I think I can safely and proudly say that Adamantean is most definitely ‘Flexible’.

So, if you feel like there’s too many hoops to jump through or are struggling with a scenario similar to one of the above, give us a call – We’ll bend over backwards to help you!

 

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Samantha Arlow

Director.