As global production house NHNZ enters its 35th year of documentary-making, it also celebrates taking its significant footage holding – from 900 documentaries, including 550 natural history documentaries, on-line.
The NHNZ archive houses content ranging from productions about New Zealand’s iconic little black robin to blue chip series Wild Asia and Life Force, and includes a significant holding of China documentary footage and a large Antarctic collection of 19 documentaries.
Out of this wealth of rushes and programmes, and with an eye to supplying internal productions and other factual producers with broadcast quality content, NHNZ Moving Images was created five years ago.
In 2007 NHNZ Moving Images’ Archive Director, Caroline Cook joined the team just as the rest of the footage world was transitioning on-line. Caroline quickly realised to get the most out of the NHNZ catalogue it needed to be visible on-line.
Five years later the website showcases over 200,000 items, with thousands of clips being created each week and a client-base of 5400 from around the world. NHNZ Moving Images’ offering has grown as NHNZ’s productions diversified into other genres and now the catalogue spans natural history, science, engineering, cultures, people and adventure.
But, as with all projects, it wasn’t without other challenges. Half-way through taking the archive on-line, broadcasters began to demand HD, and only HD, shows.
“Although NHNZ started making shows in HD 12 years ago we still found ourselves standing in the library a few years back thinking, ‘Bugger - the majority of our footage is SD. What do we do now?’.
“For many years NHNZ produced highly successful archive-based series like The Most Extreme and we wanted to continue making archive shows in HD to meet broadcaster demand for entertaining small-budget shows, but when we surveyed our archive there just wasn’t a large volume of quality HD content out there to draw on. Everyone was in the same boat - NHNZ was just one example of what the whole industry was suffering,” says Caroline.
“The search for HD footage was on, and we began adding to our holdings with HD collections from other producers, building collections from Talking Pictures, Geoff Mackley, Wildlife Films, Aquavision and Peter Lamberti, as well as aggregators Omni Movi and Specialist Stock (now Robert Harding).
“Over time we’ve built a reputation for representing professionally shot factual content. NHNZ Moving Images now represents more than 30 producers who contribute unique content from the natural world on a regular basis.”
Last year NHNZ Moving Images’ agency holdings took a major leap forward with the signing of an exclusive representation deal with National Geographic Channels to take content from over 600 productions on-line. Along with the enormous task of cataloguing National Geographic’s previously unreleased content, NHNZ also began adding more New Zealand and Australian content to service demand from its local markets.
In 2012, NHNZ’s HD holding continues to grow, and broadcasters also appear to be softening towards SD use within their HD archive shows.
“Broadcasters attitudes have slowly changed; to get entertaining and engaging productions they are looking to the content not the format to drive the show. With budgets shrinking it is nearly impossible to expect a production house to send out a crew in the hope of replacing the same shots held on SD. In part that’s because the budgets and timelines aren’t there to send the crews out, but in some cases the animals are no longer there, or the location’s obliterated: often the only place left to see the animals is on film or SD.”
NHNZ Moving Images continues to look for new ways of doing business: in the last two years they’ve dropped kills fees and minimum orders, and they sell by the second not by the clip. But the most radical move was made two months ago when they announced a new US$40 per second stock footage licensing package for editorial and documentary use.
“We listened carefully to the frustrations expressed by producers, from indies to major production houses, who have had to deal with ever-increasing barriers to licensing content – from the need to pay per clip when only a few seconds is required, to paying for screener costs, research, and cancellations fees. NHNZ looked at the issues and came up with a fresh licensing model that made licensing content easy and within the reach of even the tightest production budget.
“We are changing the way we do business with our clients by offering a flat rate for premium content of US$40 per second - no minimums, for all media worldwide in perpetuity as the standard; not the exception. We want to do whatever we can to make it easier for our clients to tell their stories. And we believe we have.”