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April 2014
Issue: January 1, 2006

NLE RENTALS - PART II

By: Marc Loftus

Back in September, this space looked at the NLE rental business, particularly two companies that were seeing success in New York. Well, the rental business is thriving elsewhere, too. Across the pond, for example, Peter Watson, director/manager of LEM Digital (London Editing Machines), says the 25-year-old company that services the London filmmaking community is also quite busy.

Watson, a film and VFX editor himself, says LEM (www.lemdigital.co.uk) started out with just one four-plate Steenbeck and two film joiners. In 1996 they purchased their first NLEs — Lightworks Turbo systems. Today, the company has a selection of editors available for rent. Most are Windows-based Avid systems, but they also offer seven Lightworks Touch systems.

A major case for the rental model’s success, says Watson, is simply the cost of rent in London’s Soho area, where most post takes place.

“I’ve done research, and the rents are just stupid,” says Watson. Rentals are a cost-effective alternative for those who want to edit without incurring the costs of operating a post house.

All of LEM’s NLEs are designed to go on site, and most go to clients working on feature films. The company is also looking to grow in the areas of television and finishing.

Unlike the more commonly-found Avid-based business, The DR Group (www.thedrgroup.com) in LA has carved out a niche as a provider of Apple Final Cut Pro systems. Lowell Kay, its president, says the company moved into its new five-bay, 12,500-square-foot space (up from 8,000) on January 1st. They’ve also added additional field systems for those who prefer to work in their own space, bringing the current total to 18.

The Final Cut rental model is different than that of an Avid one, Kay explains. Because the price of a system is considerably less than that of an Avid, pros looking for long-term editing solutions are more likely to buy an FCP system than to rent it. This mentality has opened the door to short-term clients, says Kay, who’ll rent systems by the day, or even the hour.

But don’t call The DR Group “a rental house.” Kay sees it more as “a service bureau, providing 24/7 access and tech support.”