the rental house in the digital era
Posted 14 July 2010 - 03:51 AM
It won't happen yet of course, while film still holds an aesthetic advantage, and high-end HD cameras still cost a bomb, but the clock is ticking. It simply isn't a viable business model to buy this year's video camera to hire out until next year's comes along. And while high end lenses will always be required whatever the capture medium, lens hire alone isn't going to keep a business with high overheads alive (insurance on this kind of gear is astronomical).
The problem is that rental houses have traditionally provided much more than equipment. Many assistants, operators, focus-pullers etc have cut their teeth working as prep techs in rental houses and met future contacts. Students in particular benefit from rental house expertise and many small festivals and cinematography societies are sponsored by rental houses. Most importantly, they require well resourced service departments for in-house maintenance and repairs to equipment, something owner-operators or small production houses can't afford.
So when everyone owns the latest RED and a set of Cookes, what happens when a lens is dropped or the camera blows smoke? Who makes sure the lenses are collimated and the head doesn't have backlash?
Maybe it'll all work out, but as a technician myself who feels a little like a blacksmith in the early days of the motor car, I can't help wondering if we're not rushing to a retrograde future.
I'd be interested to hear people's thoughts.
Posted 14 July 2010 - 08:16 AM
It's not as though any single person can really own enough gear to mount a proper production, under all circumstances, for any shot, and as such the rental houses will be around, though I can see them decreasing in number....
Posted 14 July 2010 - 09:39 AM
I'm not sure how profitable the lighting rigs are, some the rental rates feature film production managers ask for and are getting can be stunningly low.
Production companies tend to rent kit unless they've got a very regular stream of work, otherwise it just ties up capital.
Posted 14 July 2010 - 08:09 PM
Rental companies are in the business of eating depreciation. The faster things change, the fuller their plates. Things may get harder to predict, but those who get their predictions right will thrive.
Posted 14 July 2010 - 08:17 PM
It makes sense to rent a $100k camera for $800/day.
It makes somewhat less sense to rent a $2k camera for $100/day.
Posted 14 July 2010 - 10:08 PM
I don't know, there are an awful lot of F900s (and even some 750s) out there that are well over ten years old, and still pulling in a nice piece of change.
It simply isn't a viable business model to buy this year's video camera to hire out until next year's comes along.
Panavision Australia have both RED and F900 packages available, and the daily rate for the F900 is about $300 more! (Although admittedly the F900 comes with standard zoom lens while the RED package doesn't have any, but still.)
Certainly, it's harder to get your money back from lower cost cameras, but the risks are lower too.