Take a high school TV studio and add an Apple II computer. That’s how Grant Petty started his career.
“I found the technology interesting and enjoyed playing around in the television studio and programming the computer,” Petty recalled. That led to an internship at a local TV station.
The internship and other early experiences fueled Petty when he established Blackmagic Design, which creates video editing products, digital film cameras, color correctors, video converters, video live production switchers, disk recorders and real-time film scanners for the feature film, post-production and TV industries. Its customer base ranges from “Oscar-winning cinematographers to 15-year-old students.
“Just look at YouTube,” Petty said. “Young kids are making absolutely fantastic content. They deserve access to professional gear just as much as the people in Hollywood. Our early capture cards allowed a lot of new designers to move into television, and you could see the change in broadcast graphics,” he said.
One of Petty’s favorite experiences was the acquisition of DaVinci, Blackmagic’s first purchase. “I enjoyed turning around DaVinci because of my history with telecine and color correction,” he recalled. “I was fascinated with how the colorists would manipulate the colors and create these beautiful images.” Since DaVinci’s products were “expensive and only available to high-end clients,” Petty focused on “making them available to all creatives as free software,” which he calls a “very significant moment.”
Attesting to the popularity of Blackmagic Design’s products is their widespread use. In the 2018 TV season, more than 55 shows (broadcast, cable, streaming) used the company’s tools, according to Petty, whose goal is “to empower creativity by making film, television and AV production equipment affordable for everyone.”
His company has more than 1,000 employees in seven countries now.
“You don’t get to a new product by market research or measuring a market,” he added. “You have to imagine a future and be able to try new ideas and then accurately evaluate the results when a new product launches.
“The younger generation is more open to taking creative risks, which is great, and they should never let themselves plateau,” he said.
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