Mergers and acquisitions continue to be a big deal in the media & entertainment industry, and the recent announcement that The Vitec Group has acquired Paralinx was a reminder of this fact. The Vitec Group brings together some incredibly respected brands in the industry, and adding Paralinx, a company known for its high-quality wireless video systems, is a major coup.
To figure out what this acquisition means for everyone involved and for the industry as a whole, we talked with Dan Kanes from Paralinx and Nicol Verheem from The Vitec Group. We get into how this deal impacts the original endeavor of Paralinx, whether professionals spend too much time worrying about their gear, what disruption means to them and plenty more.
ProVideo Coalition: News about The Vitec Group’s acquisition of Paralinx was just made public, and it’s a pretty big announcement. Can you share any info around how this agreement came to be?
Dan Kanes: Members of both Paralinx and Teradek looked at the way the wireless HD video market was being underserved and talked about how our customers, worldwide members of the film and video community, would be better served if we were to cooperate on building better solutions for them, rather than wasting our energies competing with each other. Ultimately, there are many things each respective team can teach one another, and learn from one another that will help us deliver better products and service to our customers.
ProVideo Coalition: Paralinx was founded to develop a new wave of affordable, high-definition wireless video tools for professionals and enthusiasts alike. How does this announcement impact that endeavor?
Dan Kanes: I think Teradek and Paralinx were founded with some of the same goals in mind such as helping people view and share video wirelessly. With our core products we took different approaches to achieving the same thing. Now, a couple of years later, we fulfilled a lot of that goal – changing the way people work on film sets. The cooperation with Teradek, I think will bring other new capabilities to people, and of course one of our goals is to keep those tools accessible and within reach of people working at all budget levels.
ProVideo Coalition: As members of the International Cinematographers Guild, Paralinx founders Dan Kanes and Greg Smokler were able to develop their products from an incredibly powerful perspective. Is that a perspective you’ll look to retain moving forward?
Dan Kanes: There is no doubt that being ICG members has helped inform our experience and the choices we make. Even the choice at the beginning to work on making a tool for the film and video production community was fueled by our passion for what we do and where we come from. I think that knowledge, and continued tradition of on-set experience and filmmaking will naturally help inform the research and development we undertake as we look to make peoples lives on set better, more fulfilling, and enriched with capabilities. One of the coolest things is that as cinematographers we aren’t being forced to give up camera work. Vitec has encouraged us to continue to pursue our cinematographic dreams as long as it doesn’t interfere with our Paralinx and Teradek projects. I see this as a win-win because it will help us stay relevant with the directions that are always changing in the industry, and it allows us to keep one of the original goals when we had starting the company: don’t let Paralinx inhibit us from our filmmaking endeavors.
Nicol Verheem: Absolutely. Greg and Dan will continue to drive product innovation now and for multiple product lines in the future. Their experiences and close relationship with the industry give us a unique insight into the needs of our end users. It will only help our products get better.
ProVideo Coalition: Is there anything specific that you’re looking to see the Paralinx team tackle with the engineers and product development team they’ll now be able to collaborate with at Teradek?
Dan Kanes: I don’t know if we can give away any surprises too soon, but the nature of some of our conversations have been very colorful.
Nicol Verheem: Come and see for yourself at NAB! You won’t want to miss it…
ProVideo Coalition: Do you believe professionals are spending too much time worrying about or dealing with the logistics around their tools?
Dan Kanes: This is an interesting question to tackle. I think by nature, to be a real professional you have to understand the tools that you are using to do your job. Many of us in filmmaking are gear heads and have a passion for the hardware. We approach the craft as just a pure, organic art form. Personally, I think a mixture of both technical and creative energies is the most rewarding. At the same time, if people have to wrestle with getting their tools to work correctly,then their experience with those tools becomes really frustrating and negative. So really, our job is twofold in a way here: open the playing field for people by giving them new tools that allow them to do new things, but don’t make the tools so complex that they are more of a hindrance than a help.
Nicol Verheem: Yes, yes, yes! These tools should be part of the solution, but too often they become part of the problem. Like Dan said, our goal is to create devices that expand a professional’s capabilities, not inhibit them.
ProVideo Coalition: The release mentions that Paralinx will continue to work in the UAV and independent content creator spaces, while Teradek will focus on cinema and television applications. Was that a pragmatic decision?
Dan Kanes: I think we are still working to help shape the way the lines will be drawn if any. I see this more as a sort of opportunity for continued summit and discussion, rather than a 38th parallel with a line in the sand. If we look at the way people are creating content these days, someone might be making a cinematic short film one weekend, and filming a corporate video that same week. The distinction between various kinds of content have blurred and shifted, and I think we have to be prepared to be flexible, in order to be fully considerate of the needs of our customers.
There isn’t a line drawn in the sand so anything is possible moving forward. However, Paralinx has done a great job building interest in the UAV space and their latest product, Triton, is a phenomenal tool for DSLR filmmakers, RC copters, and live productions.
Teradek products have a lot of added features, including dual I/O (HDMI + 3G-SDI) and metadata/timecode pass through, which tend to be in higher demand for cinema and television applications.
Nicol Verheem: Neither company will abandon the markets they sell to. We will work together, share technology, and create devices that give our customers tremendous value.
ProVideo Coalition: How have UAVs impacted and changed the way professionals can approach a project?
Dan Kanes: Small UAVs have allowed professionals to approach a project from new directions, mostly from above.
But seriously, who hasn’t dreamed of flying? Now that aerial shots have become more accessible, this is a new part of the language of our creative expression. Having remote vision that can move in any dimension in space is a very heartfelt experience. I think it’s uplifting for the spirit.
ProVideo Coalition: Generally speaking, how do you handle the constant disruption the professional video industry experiences on a regular basis?
Nicol Verheem: We try to be the disruptor through constant innovation. That is the only way to ensure you are not in the crosshairs of that disruption. We want to push the boundaries and open up new capabilities through technologies that either simplify the shooting experience or fundamentally change the way video is captured, edited, and viewed.
ProVideo Coalition: Is that disruption something you see across the board? Or do freelancers and major studios experience disruption in a fundamentally different way?
Nicol Verheem: It is widespread, and mostly advantageous, but disruption can also be a bad thing. Take digital disrupting film: there is no digital substitute yet for large format film cameras (a passion of mine), but no film stock left for them either. So the large format community lost out from the disruption. But on the other hand, the consumer gained a lot on the other end of the spectrum. For those established in their way and invested in tools and workflows, (e.g. big studios) disruption is harder to deal with, whereas for the freelancer, who starts with a blank slate, it is a wonderful source of affordable and easy workflows.
ProVideo Coalition: Any advice you can offer to professionals who want to ensure they’re prepared to deal with constant changes to the tools they use and the way they work?
Dan Kanes: My advice would be to let us know what it is you want to see change in the way you make video and films. Don’t think anything is ever out of reach.
Nicol Verheem: Find a balance. Change is inevitable. Embrace it, and it will work for you. But be wary of the newest gizmo that changed just for change’s sake too.
ProVideo Coalition: Is there anything specific you’re looking forward to in 2015 or beyond?
Dan Kanes: Right now I’m looking forward to NAB, IBC, and Interbee 2015, mostly to engage with many of the awesome friends we have in the worldwide film and video community, but also to see a lot of the exciting new cameras, lenses, monitors, and other tools that help us make the best creative work we can.
Nicol Verheem: This will be a great year, in which we can hopefully lay the groundwork for products that will influence the industry for years to come.
ProVideo Coalition: What’s the best way to learn more about how the tools from Paralinx and Teradek can impact a production?
Dan Kanes: The best way to learn about how a Paralinx or Teradek system can change a production is to start by renting or borrowing a system from a friend to see how quickly it can change the way you make content. It will allow you to work faster, lighter, leaner, safer, more effectively, and with greater freedom than you have ever experienced before.