Cut|Color|Post

excerpts, quips, and musings on the production and post-production industry, and other stuff of interest

BMPC 4K Hits More Delays

On Wednesday Grant Petty took to the Blackmagic Forums to sing a usual song:

I just want to give you an update on the 4K camera. As we mentioned a few weeks ago, we received the production sensors much later than we expected. When we built cameras from them we saw some big differences in the images between these production sensors vs the pre production samples we originally received. What this means is that we have been working over the last few weeks to replace a bunch of the software in the camera that handles the sensor calibration and image processing. 
It's taking a bit longer than we expected to do this and we think its going to take about 3 to 4 weeks more to get those changes done and to get the QA process completed before we can start shipping.
We apologize for the delays from the original promised date. Ultimately, image calibration is a very important step so we want to make sure this is done properly before shipping.

Unfortunately, this is becoming quite a common refrain from Blackmagic (see here and here). All 3 cameras they've released over the last 18 months have run into production problems. All 3 hit production snags. The one thing it reinforces is just how difficult it is to deliver these types of products on the budget and timeframe that BM sets. And make no mistake, part of the reason other companies charge as much as they do for their equipment (I'm looking at you Sony, Canon, Panasonic, RED, etc.) is due to the suppliers they work with where they are expected to deliver X quantity on X date. Component manufactures charge for that. Camera companies then charge us, the consumer, for those components. That type of delivery and quantity does not come cheap. Remember, in our industry you can get it good, fast, or cheap, but you can only pick two of those and you sacrifice the third.

On the flip side, as someone who has pre-ordered the BMPC 4K I would rather wait for them to get it right than to ship a camera that doesn't function properly. I have more patience waiting for a piece of gear than to receive it and have it underperform or function improperly making it unusable. I've got other cameras to keep me creating until this arrives. So take your time Blackmagic. Get it right!

However, in the future stop creating arbitrary deadlines that just frustrate your customer base as they get blown past. Announce the product, not the delivery date. Stop setting goalposts only to move them a couple of weeks later. Just stop it. Take a page from Apple's playbook in this area. The new Mac Pro was shown, but no expected date was given, save for the generic "Fall 2013." Or use the most common page from Apple, don't say anything about the product until you're ready to deliver it. Instead of showing the under-development 4K camera at NAB wait until IBC to show off the finished product. Or wait until NAB 2014 to show it and sell it on the show floor (how many people would just buy the 4K camera right there on the show floor and just fly home with it?! I'm guessing they'd blow throw cameras if that were the case). Or if the product doesn't fit into a simple trade show/convention release schedule then hold a press release about the new camera and start taking/filling orders when it's ready. The Internet and blogging community will easily take care of moving the information out to your customer base.

Blackmagic will survive these PR gaffs provided the cameras they churn out really do pack the goods (the BMCC has pretty solid reviews from those who've used one). RED has done similar antics for years and is still selling well, but not without an extremely frustrated customer base. But, Blackmagic, for overall loyalty and goodwill to your customer base don't speak up until you have a finished product to ship.  I promise you we'll buy it en masse and you'll get dragged through the mud less! A win-win from where I'm sitting.