The challenge for many businesses to facilitate home working at scale has proven to be a major catalyst in making video an everyday business tool. This has been one of the most significant operational and cultural changes businesses have faced in decades and has proven to be a fast-track education for many in the benefits of using video. Now that more companies than ever before have opened their eyes to the potential for video to be used to save time and money, it is encouraging many organizations to reevaluate how to use video technologies more prominently in their longer term strategy for success.
The industry has witnessed a surge in demand for a range of video acquisition devices across several key product categories. Webcams, PTZ cameras, entry level pro camcorders, video bars and other videoconferencing equipment have all been highly sought after over the past seven months, as the need for higher-performance image acquisition drives end users to upgrade from using readily available cameras integrated in to devices, like smartphones and laptops, to dedicated solutions.
Videoconferencing is proving to be a gateway to widespread adoption of video use in many businesses. This has not only influenced a radical change in internal corporate communication but also external collaboration and engagement. Anyone that is regularly engaging in videoconferencing, corporate communications, webinars and virtual networking; or creating digital marketing content, sales materials and training resources, has now entered the addressable market for professional imaging devices.
In all these instances, many users will reach a point where their base camera is not good enough and starts to hold them back. Even though fewer meetings take place face to face, first impressions still matter. In the virtual office, appearing on a call with a pixelated video feed clouded with noise is comparable to walking into a meeting with your shoelaces untied. Not only this, but a bad video feed is frustrating to view, and allowing yourself to be seen clearly by viewers is essential to communicate effectively. Investing in better image quality is proving popular with those that want to differentiate themselves from competitors or even other participants in a stream or meeting. The fast track way to improve image quality is to upgrade your acquisition device.
Devices with higher resolution, greater dynamic range, and more effective video compression all present opportunities to raise the standard of video quality. Ultimately, every individual’s image quality will be tied to the compression and maximum bitrate used by their videoconferencing or streaming platform, however, for those that are seeking to differentiate their video from competitors or even stand out memorably from other participants on collaborative calls, investing in a better camera will prove that they have done everything within their control to improve the visible quality of their video output.
The common ground between all these types of users is that everyone is presenting themselves on screen, likely at home, and likely self-shooting. This has created a growing demand for video acquisition devices that are easy for a novice crew of one to operate with only limited space available.
The democratization of video equipment in recent years means there are a range of solutions available for those seeking to move beyond integrated laptop webcams. Smartphones present a readily available alternative; webcams and dedicated video conferencing kit present a traditional B2B solution; many consumer imaging devices including DSLRs, mirrorless and action cameras can be taken advantage of thanks to software upgrades making them compatible as a video source, while PTZs and pro camcorders offer more sophisticated imaging options and greater manual control. While using a pro camcorder may seem like overkill in most situations, there exist occasions when the highest quality is desired in order to represent the subject in the best possible way.
As the use of professional video devices as a core business skill is still in its infancy, most existing solutions still require a level of technical knowledge to setup and use effectively. Aside from simple availability, the reasons some products have been favored during the lockdown period however are those that have prioritized intuitive user interfaces, menus and configurations, as well as cameras with good autofocus for self-shooting, and convenient connectivity for integration with livestreaming platforms. These features all help solo shooters to set up and operate at home with only remote technical support.
As more companies consider their use of video not only as a short term solution to the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, but also an opportunity to reinvent operations and communications, there will be a growing need for high quality video devices, and more ambitious use cases that arise.
This goes for companies both familiar and unfamiliar with traditional video production. There are benefits to multicamera set ups within collaboration installations, for example having both a close up and a wide shot of a presenter in front of an interactive display. This would allow for the speaker to be clearly shown whilst also giving them the ability to present as they ordinarily would do. This also raises the potential for the presenter to become their own director, switching between shots depending on how they’d like to focus their audience’s attention.
Tools to easily produce multicamera coverage with a consistent look are already receiving interest. The Blackmagic Atem Mini series of switchers has proven a popular entry point for businesses looking to add greater production value to their video output. These can make videoconferences and livestreams more immersive by allowing a single user to seamlessly cut between multiple camera sources and additional graphic feeds. Solutions that can simplify camera matching and white balance with remote control are also particularly attractive to achieve a polished and professional look.
It is already becoming evident to many businesses that if they are preparing to return to office, that they will not be returning to the office as they remember it. With many organizations expressing an interest in continuing to support remote working in the long term, and others even reducing the physical footprint of their office space, there will be a greater need for hybridized working spaces that can facilitate face-to-face and virtual interaction, simultaneously.
Adjacent to this is the desire to invest in in-house content creation facilities. As employees enjoy greater video literacy and confidence creating video at home, they are seeking means to create higher quality productions. This is even encouraging SMEs to consider converting office space to compact studio areas or video backdrops, especially to support sales and marketing teams as well as senior staff that have a regular need to produce high-quality video output.
Corporate and B2B applications present a fertile market for innovative new video acquisition solutions that are tailored to the needs of a post-pandemic workplace. There are rich rewards for imaging brands that can excel and embed themselves in this vertical, as these are still very early days for many businesses investing in creating video content.