Earlier this year, the Multicom Media Group acquired a small UHF TV station in Springdale, Ark. with the intent of expanding its reach into the local Hispanic market space.
The company was already publishing a highly regarded Spanish language magazine serving northwest Arkansas. Adding a Spanish language television station to its holdings offered the opportunity to further capitalize on the area’s burgeoning Hispanic population.
As it happened, the deal closed sooner than expected. Somehow we had to get local news and commercial spots to the air five months ahead of the business plan requirement.
Though the problem was imminent, funding was still in line with the business plan. We had no money; in fact we were given only $7,500 to work with. Desperate, we found ourselves scrounging all over the U.S. and the Internet looking for a deal on a high-end editing system.
During this quest, a nameless benefactor said he had heard about a company called "Applied something" that was selling nonlinear video editors. We figured out it was Applied Magic he was talking about and discovered that an Applied Magic dealer was auctioning a demo unit on E-Bay. It was touted as a "turnkey, non-linear video editor offering broadcast-quality video, real-time performance and an easy-to-learn user interface."
Although we were in a jam, we were skeptical. There was no way something so low priced ($3,995) could really work. Our producers and editors knew that, but management figured we could "fake it" until funding came through for one of those exquisite $100K+ systems we thought we just had to have.
Naturally we kicked, cried, laughed and made fun of the little Applied Magic box.
I just knew that there was no way this ScreenPlay was going to work. Anyway, we opened the box and fired up our new ScreenPlay and how we edit changed forever – for the better.
A PRODUCTION DYNAMO
What we had perceived as a box designed for occasional use by wedding videographers, turned out to be a production dynamo that is now the cornerstone of our daily news and commercial spot editing. It’s a primary production tool and we love it.
It’s not so much the technology; it’s that the ScreenPlay worked, better than advertised, right out of the box. The price and the ease of operation coupled with the broadcast quality output left us in shock. ScreenPlay ultimately saved us more than $100K in FY2001 Q1.
But before I go on, let’s be real about something: video production is transparent to viewers. They don’t know – or care – if you’re editing on a $50,000 "gee whiz" system.
In fact, we took our first output to the leading cynic in our area at a local NBC station and asked him to critique it. He smirked and opined, "Oh, I see you got your Avid system finally." We just grinned like raccoons eating fish guts off a wire brush and went home.
Low cost was our incentive for the original purchase, but it was ScreenPlay’s ease of use, low training curve and high dependability that sold us on the system as a line-level tool. The average conversion training time on ScreenPlay, for anyone with minimal experience, is about a day. ScreenPlay’s user-friendly interface encourages even novices to make themselves at home.
Screenplay allows reporters and spot producers to unload tape, edit it and be out of the suite in a matter of minutes. The file storage system allows sharing of footage and the security features prevent accidental erasure or alteration of works in progress. The range of features, while somewhat less than the $50,000 boxes, are impressive and include 3-D page turns, special effects, color effects and a full range of audio tools.
After three months of experience we compared the features of a high-end system, the reality of our needs and the capability of Screenplay. For a fraction of the cost of a single high-end system we determined our goals would be best met by investing in a half-dozen ScreenPlay suites.
Lastly, the savings we’ve realized using relatively novice operators creating quality projects are immense. We estimate that we save enough in training to pay for a new editing bay in about two years.
The Screenplay story can be summed up simply: Don’t let the low cost fool you. The Screenplay is a production workhorse.
For more information, contact Applied Magic (760-931-6417, www.applied-magic.com)
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