VIDEO FACES MULTIMEDIA CHALLENGE

With production companies already feeling the squeeze in staging and graphics production, another area in which they have traditionally been active – video production – is also facing change.

Although video became a powerful tool in the Eighties, there are drawbacks to a programme on tape; it can be expensive to produce, it is very difficult to ensure everyone watches it and the material can become dated very quickly. To update it means another costly trip to the edit suite.

Dianne Lucas, deputy managing director of Aspen Business Communications, believes users must now look to multimedia: “Multimedia can do much more than video. Such presentations can incorporate computer graphics, text, audio and still images with high-resolution video footage.

“The convergence of computing and telecoms technology – allowing the transmission of voice, text, data and images in real time, could also soon mark the end of the standalone video. It will be possible to distribute material direct to computer terminals as well as via established methods like diskette and CD-Rom.”

One of the hurdles that multimedia will have to overcome, however, is scepticism. There are still many people who think it is too complicated, not yet sufficiently developed or that it is a solution looking for a problem.

For business presentations some of that scepticism may be well placed, because it is still difficult to achieve high-quality video on the big screen using multimedia.

For this reason, its main areas of growth are one-to-one presentations, using small screens, and point-of-sale applications.

“These allow customers to interact with the system, make enquiries, select options, even place orders directly and, not surprisingly, video sequences form a central part of this communication,” says Lucas.

The question is, where does this leave the standalone video production company?

To compete in this new world they must become multi-disciplined agencies understanding not just video production techniques but also computer and telecommunication technologies, as well as the communication requirements of their clients. This will require a significant investment in both equipment and personnel.

The likelihood is that in the long term, businesses will be looking to bring a lot of such expertise in-house. Multimedia is going to be a key form of communication which will be used on an everyday basis by a large number of people who will need to react quickly.

The opportunity for specialist producers will come from their creative edge and the fact that being located away from the client will soon be no barrier to electronic communication.

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