Here's the good news. Soon, producing a TV promo will be extremely affordable. But that's a hidden threat for production houses.
Motion, a motion-graphics package from Apple, will be available later this year for $299. That price point is a mixed blessing. On one hand, it makes it cheaper for post-production facilities like New York's Perception to improve its tool set. But it also makes it easier for competing facilities to enter the market.
Perception has worked on excellent ESPN Classic and HBO commercials, as well as projects for TV Land. Brendan Werner, Perception's editorial director, has his eye on Motion. After all, it might be the graphics package of the future.
Perception is an Apple-compatible facility, since Werner places a high priority on keeping a simple graphics toolbox. "We wanted to be very streamlined," he explains, "and tools like Photoshop and After Effects work better on the Apple platform."
He says Final Cut Pro, which uses Apple's Quicktime video format, has several advantages. It handles graphics easily, can bring in Photoshop files, and gives immediate access to all the different applications.
"Clips don't have to be exported; they can be copied to Quicktime," he adds. "It's cost-effective without losing a high grade of quality."
He currently does effects with Adobe After Effects, a much less costly alternative to systems like Discreet's Flame.
But, with Motion and other new technology, he says, "it doesn't take a lot of money to start up a post-production facility. The talent is what makes the difference, as it's a very competitive market right now."
The downside for post facilities, however, is an upside for broadcast stations and networks that want to have image spots produced externally: Soon, quality work will be cheaper than ever.