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Re: Kodak and Cineon

In a message dated 97-10-22 11:32:41 EDT, Dick Hobbs wrote:

<< Kodak Professional Motion Imaging Divison has announced it will change its
 participation in the digital motion imaging software business and
discontinue the sale of its digital hardware products currently marketed
under the Cineon brand. >>

Having had about a year to get familiar with it, I can say first hand that
the Cineon Genesis scanner is an excellent product, and it appeared that the
Lightining film recorder could have been as well.  While it's no big secret
on Wall Street that Kodak has been taking a beating from Fuji in traditional
film products, and their consumer digital still camera has been a sales
disappointment, it hardly seemed as though they gave Cineon and Lightining a
chance to catch on.  I don't understand how they can say they didn't sell as
many as they expected -- at about $300,000 (US) for the scanner, and $650,000
(US) for the film recorder, they weren't likely to move like disposable

If there was any problem, as I saw it, it was that the operation was
overburdened with corporate bureaucracy.  One service issue which could have
been resolved with a couple of faxes turned into big sit-down meeting with
five managers!  At a combined cost of probably more than $1,000 per hour for
the people, not to mention travel and hotel expenses, small wonder their
"current business model [did] not meet [their] financial objectives."

Well, hopefully they'll either find a good home for the division that makes
this equipment, or recognize that this decision might have been a bit hasty
and reverse it.

As Bob Kertesz points out, 

<< In fact, the general post effects business is undergoing big changes.
 Boss films closes, Disney closes its effects division and buys Dreamquest,
Warner's closes its effects division, Sony lays off staff in their effects
division, Digital Domain lays off staff. >>

<< Quite a bit of this can be traced to the rise of more powerful and
sophisticated desktop systems, where an effects supervisor with $30K or a
decent line of credit can do major effects work (although not in real time)
in his or her living room. >>

While this is true to a degree, it does not explain why Kodak decided to dump
the Cineon and Lightining.  It is getting easier to do very sophisticated
effects on high-end desktop systems (if one can tolerate the rendering time),
but somebody still has to scan the original film so a desktop system can be
used, and then somebody has to get the final output of the desktop back onto
film.  If anything, the rise of workstation special effects should have
stimulated the demand for Cineons and Lightinings, not curtailed it.  The
combined cost of a full-blown Cineon scanner and Lightining recorder system
was in excess of $1 million, so it wasn't something that you'd find in many
living rooms!  

My impression of the current situation in digital effects is that it was a
big buzzword a couple of years ago.  A lot of people thought they were going
to find quick fame and fortune in this new field, and as a result, more
capacity was installed than there was real demand for.  So now there's a
small shake-out going on.  In at least one case mentioned above, unfortunate
business deals were a factor, and I suspect that  corporate "housecleaning"
may account for some of the others.   

Best regards,
Christopher Bacon

++ Thanks to Biggi Klier of Munich for support of the TIG in 1997 ++
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