By Marc Loftus
Issue: February 1, 2005


The boutique studio model is becoming more popular these days for a number of reasons. Yes, there are more low-cost, high-powered tools available now, and that is certainly helping to drive this trend. Our "DV Cameras" feature in this issue details how inexpensive it is for professionals to get into high definition production, thanks to the new HDV format. HDV - which many feel will become the next DV - is pushing application developers to create equally low-cost editing solutions. And very soon, editing high definition on a laptop will be as common as what?s being done with DV today.

But low-cost tools are not the only influence behind the growing boutique trend. Many creatives are setting up their own shops, where they can selectively take on projects that match not only their expertise, but their areas of interest. "Keeping it small" is a theme heard throughout our "Boutiques" feature this month, where pros consciously try to keep from growing beyond their initial operation.

Image Group, here in New York, recently closed its doors, affecting as many as 80 post pros. I would imagine that many of them have grown tired of the big post house model - having seen its failures first hand - and might set up their own small shops, where they can offer their expertise and talents through desktop (or laptop) solutions.

Michael Croog opened his Croog Studios back in 2001 with a vision of creating longform animated content. The studio lends its animation expertise to both commercial and broadcast clients, but ultimately it's Croog's original ideas that drive him.

"I've always wanted to do my own project," says Croog, who got his start at Curious Pictures, also in NYC. "This company was started based on the idea I had for 'Galaxy Gang.'" And now Croog is in the early stages of work on a new, entirely-3D project he?s developed called "Sprouts." (See for details).

His shop has a few Alias seats, and he's sharing space in his 27th Street location. Again, small and efficient. He hopes to publicize "Sprouts" initially through a children's book, and will work on the first two episodes in earnest over the next year. In the meantime, high-end animation for clients like Nickelodeon helps pay the bills.

How many boutique owners have similar visions?