If you’re coming to NAB Show New York later this week, you’ll be visiting the stomping grounds of New York retail giant B&H Photo & Video. The company’s retail storefront, including its professional services operation, known as The Studio, is just a couple of crosstown blocks away. We talked to Michel Suissa, managing director of professional solutions at The Studio-B&H, to find out how he was getting ready for the event, what he expects to see there, and what The Studio will have on display.
“We’ll be firing on all cylinders,” Suissa says of his plans for the show. “We want to make sure people see us as a versatile resource for whatever type of media content they’re engaged in creating.” That means emphasizing some of the relationships The Studio has built, including its status as an officially certified dealer for both ARRI and Red cinema cameras.
“Our high-end customers who shoot for cinema were shooting with Red and ARRI, and we needed to be able to respond to their needs on the workflow side,” Suissa says, noting that he hopes The Studio will become a training center for those brands as well.
Other camera exhibits at The Studio-B&H booth will include two robotic camera systems — one customized rig incorporating pieces from Vinten, Chrosziel and Sony and one of NewTek’s new NDI-controlled units — as well a studio camera from Hitachi and a Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro configured for studio use. “We’ve seen people really interested in migrating to 4K at an entry-level budget, and that camera is making itself a real contender,” Suissa explains. “We’re going to show people the spectrum: this one is 4K, this one is a traditional 1080p60 studio camera, and here in the middle is a robotic camera that you can install in pretty much any environment.”
Another The Studio-B&H find will be on exhibit — a lightweight robotic cable cam from DynamiCam that will be flown from a 20-foot-by-30-foot suspended truss 16 feet overhead. “We hope this will make a big impression on the market,” says Suissa, noting that the camera appeared at NAB in Las Vegas but was not shipping at the time. “It began shipping 45 days ago and has been engaged in a number of real-life tests. The most successful was in August, when we traveled to L.A. to cover an HBO championship boxing fight and, working with FOR-A, integrated the camera into a mobile truck with Sony studio cameras. When the director and producer saw what the camera could do, they put it live and used it extensively.”
Another recent development is a distribution and integration deal with Utah Scientific, which Suissa characterizes as “very significant” given that NAB NY attendees will be looking for ways to increase the capacity of their infrastructure.
“Utah Scientific has been in this market a long time, serving very high-end clients at a level above what we could offer until now,” Suissa says. “That’s a validation of our business model — the strengthening of our customer base, which goes from entry level all the way to studios and broadcasters. They all have various needs, but the backbone of their infrastructure is signal distribution.”
Accordingly, Suissa said, The Studio will be ready to show gear supporting all-SDI, all-IP and hybrid transport systems built around Utah Scientific’s routers as well as configurations using NewTek’s NDI protocol.
“There was some disappointing news last week,” he says, referring to the announcement that Nokia was abandoning its OZO VR camera, a high-end platform for stereo 360 video acquisition. But Suissa sees that less as an indication that VR is losing momentum and more as a sign that it’s still tricky to devise a cinematic language for 360-degree storytelling, not to mention a workable business model. “[Nokia’s departure] may be sort of a leveler for other market forces, who will say, ‘Well, we no longer have a $25,000 competitor.’ So we will continue to provide technology to people who are invested in VR. If the market levels toward the middle end rather than the high end sooner than other markets have, we’re OK with that. But we don’t see VR losing steam.”
As an example, Suissa cited a new relationship with Z Cam that sees The Studio carrying its full line of products, including the Z Cam S1 VR camera.
Asked if The Studio-B&H sells much product at the show, given that its showroom is just down the road, Suissa responds by noting that the show has changed from the days when it was a more product-oriented affair. The Studio is ready to provide the spare cable or similar item needed by a desperate vendor who left something back at the office, but mostly Suissa says he’ll be there to build business relationships.
“For us it’s more of a gathering of clients and friends,” he says. “They all come. They know we’re there, and they know it’s one way to engage us about a project they have coming up. They can say, ‘I’ve been putting this off for so long,’ and then take the opportunity to look at the technology being presented.’ Our goal is not to sell a certain number of cameras, for example, every month. Our goal is to make sure the cameras we sell are placed with customers who appreciate the level of knowledge and support we offer, and who will create long-term relationships with us.”