With the recent acquisition by Videocraft of the Digistor and Adimex companies, I thought it might be a good idea to sit down with Videocraft’s Director james Taylor and have a chat. I was particularly interested in how the acquisition would affect each of the companies operations, in addition to how customers would be affected.
And of course, tried to glean what the future may bring.
AV: How long had discussions been in place prior to the acquisition?
JT: These sorts of transactions do not happen overnight! However, both organisations could see real benefits for their respective clients by combining resources. While the Pandemic slowed things down, the clear benefits to our clients of the combined companies meant that once we started to have some clear air we all worked hard to make it happen.
AV: What are the major benefits to Videocraft of the acquisition?
JT: Firstly, when we worked to bring Digistor and Videocraft together, the focus is how the combined entities benefit, not just Videocraft! When we look at benefits, the first and most important thing we asked was ‘how do our clients benefit”? The combined companies have a much greater combined pool of resources that enable Digistor and Videocraft to deliver a higher level of service to all of our clients.
Obviously, there are benefits flowing from having a larger organisation with greater turnover and more purchasing power, etc. and in being able to streamline operations, but we see many more benefits outside of the purely financial and operational. There are benefits to our teams with opportunities to work in a wider area of customer applications and also benefits to our customers and suppliers from a larger organisation with a stronger support base of knowledge, facilities and stock.
AV: How do you see the three companies working together? What role will each play and what overlaps are there
JT: Each business entity will continue to operate much as they did before the acquisition. Adimex, which is focused on product distribution throughout Australia and New Zealand, continues to provide access for dealers to a great range of products.
From a Videocraft and Digistor perspective, it’s useful to picture the solutions addressed as a continuum from the acquisition and production side (studios, lighting, cameras, live production facilities, rental) through to storage, media management, workflow, post-production, and distribution – from “glass to glass” or from when it hits the camera lens to when it’s delivered to the viewer’s screen.
The combined staff, products, expertise, and services of both companies now let us address the whole spectrum of customers’ needs across the whole country and beyond. We can take on projects as a group which would have been hard to take on individually. So, while there are some overlaps, we can now work together to utilise the organisations’ resources that make sense to deliver the best outcomes for our customers. The great thing for our clients is that we have a huge resource of relevant knowledge over all aspects of the production pipeline that helps us deliver the right solution for our clients’ needs and budget.
AV: Will Videocraft or Digistor/Adimex customers notice any difference in their dealings or are the 3 entities being kept separate in their “shopfront” so to speak?
JT: They will continue to operate as separate entities. The difference from a customer’s perspective will be the ability to access a greater range of products and services from each. For example, Digistor customers will be able to utilise rental services via Digistor’s access to Videocraft’s vast rental stock and, similarly, Videocraft customers will be able to access complex multi-vendor post-production workflow solutions including services. Adimex will continue to run as a standalone business, with a strong focus on ensuring that we have the products in stock that the market needs.
AV: There are three elements to Videocraft – sales, rentals and technical services / engineering. Doesn’t Digistor also specialise in the last of these so is there no clash there? Or does it just increase the expertise of both with differing expertises?
JT: You’ve hit the nail on the head. It does increase the expertise of both. Instead of trying to “stretch” to provide everything alone, we can work cooperatively. We have already seen the benefits of the larger engineering resources over the group.
Our combined engineering resource is unmatched in the local industry for both the quality and the quantity of engineering resources, and we intend to continue to strengthen our team. Of course, our strong combined presence in both Sydney and Melbourne, along with the ability to support our clients remotely pretty much anywhere in the world add up to a higher level of resources available for our clients.
AV: Have any staff been displaced by the acquisition? How many staff are there in each and in total?
JT: No, there have not been any staff displacements, and we are looking for new people to come and join the team! We see this as a great opportunity for staff to learn more, have more diverse roles and more opportunity. There are around 60 staff in total across both entities.
AV: Has the acquisition opened up avenues for Videocraft that were not previously available? And vice versa?
JT: Yes, it has opened up new avenues. We are currently working together on several projects at various stages of development that call on in the expertise of both companies. Previously, each organisation, would have only been able to provide the complete solution utilising external resources, or could even have been excluded from participating completely. We look at opportunities now through the lens of the combined companies resources and sklills.
AV: Are there areas that Videocraft / Digistor / Adimex will now move into beyond what either had previously?
JT: It certainly allows us to address larger and more complex customer requirements and we’re looking forward to working on more of these types of opportunities. From what we can see, there is no other organisation that can address a customer requirement that combines all of large-scale live and remote production, media transmission and live broadcast, media management, editing and post-production, on-premise and remote workflows, encoding and distribution. And that doesn’t include the on-site live management, training, roll-out and technical support services that we can offer as well!
AV: Are there plans for Videocraft to expand beyond Sydney / Melbourne?
JT: We currently support customers throughout Australia, remotely and onsite. At this time our focus is to ensure that our teams at Digistor and Videocraft are able to take advantage of the relative skills of each organisation to give our clients the best possible experience. As for the future, let’s see what happens!
AV: What is the biggest single issue affecting businesses in the video / filmmaking distribution area at present? What other issues are there?
JT: At this time I feel the biggest challenge to our industry is related to people! There are real shortages of people in all facets of the production pipeline, and especially in the ‘behind the scenes’ parts of the industry. We have lost many people from the industry over the whole COVID period, never to return. Now that production has roared back to life, the people left in the industry are working harder than ever to cover off the holes that the Pandemic has created, which is unsustainable in the longer term.
Technology is changing all of the time, and the migration to IP based technologies is continuing to happen. However, we have to be cognisant of the human element in these technology changes. Very simply, is it making life easier for the team or not? I feel that this question is something that is often missed when changes in technology occur. There can be many pitfalls when making changes, but that is where the Digistor and Videocraft combined resource can help our clients make the right choice.
AV: How do you see the video / film creation industry in Australia in the near future? And further?
JT: Australia is a great place to make media and entertainment – from movies to live sports to TV series to games and everything in-between. We have a vibrant and innovative industry, so I think that there’ll be more types of entertainment produced and distributed utilising the technology development to make content easier to make in more forms and reaching more diverse audiences. So apart from the increasing appeal of Australia as a location for traditional film and television production, we haven’t even begun to see what Aussies can do with virtual sets, AR/VR, the metaverse, and all the rest.
AV: What is the biggest stumbling block to the industry expanding in this country?
JT: Australia is always going to be challenged as a location for its geographic distance from the US and Europe, which does add unavoidable cost in bringing in people and equipment. Australia does have a skilled and talented base of crew that can get the job done, but after this last couple of years we have seen many people leave the industry, and we are experiencing shortages of skilled crew, especially in the technical areas.
AV: Can a future government do anything or should it do anything to help the industry? (Example: new studios complex being built in Fremantle by McGowan government in WA).
JT: On the face of things, the film industry in Australia would probably not survive without assistance from the government in the form of tax relief and other direct support. However, this assistance does have genuine flow on benefits in the employment of skilled professionals and the support industry that keep these productions running. So yes, government assistance is vital in sustaining our industry and keeping Australia an internationally competitive destination for feature film production.
I also feel that additional work can be done to ensure that these international productions leave a long lasting legacy in training more local crew, as we need to ensure that there is a new generation of crew coming through! Funding screen and television associations such as Screen Australia helps to keep the industry buoyant and projects to get off the ground. Supporting those involved with, and funding, live events after such a difficult period. Vocational training is a fundamental part of ensuring a future for the industry, in both live television and film production. TAFE should be an integral part of this, with courses more closely aligned with industry needs. Setting and policing local content rules for broadcast. There are a myriad ways government can have a direct and in-direct positive effect on the success of local media and entertainment industry.
AV: Are there any further acquisition plans possible?
JT: Never say never! It makes a lot of sense to consolidate resources and expertise where technology and applications are developing so quickly. There are always new horizontal and vertical markets developing and organisations emerging that address these. If an opportunity exists to work cooperatively together, then we will explore that.
AV: Thanks for your time!
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