By John Wolcott SCBJ Freelance Writer
EVERETT — Jonathan Holbrook has proven once again that even a relatively small video producer and video-editing equipment company can make big waves across the country by concentrating on quality products, creative excellence and the needs of his niche customers.
Already the winner of multiple awards for his production work and high-tech, high-quality, affordable products, Holbrook’s market stature is getting a boost from the industry trade magazine Videomaker.
The magazine’s test staff put DVGear’s new Apprentice video editing and production computer through a series of evaluations and named it Best New Product for 2011. The review is published in Videomaker’s January issue.
DVGear, a web-based company, is a division of Tall Taurus Media LLC, Holbrook’s Everett video production firm that acquired DVGear in 2006.
Holbrook’s success is as much in how he’s structured his business as it is in his savvy use of technology for his video productions and his video editing equipment.
“We’re a web-based company, so even though we have an office in Everett to do some of our studio work we’ve found that being web-focused allows us to work with partners who don’t have to be full-time on our payroll, but they’re still able to provide their special expertise to our clients,” he said.
Not only did the Videomaker test crew rate it as the best new video editing computer in its field, it also noted that the Apprentice is just the low-end of a new computer editing trio that also includes the Squire and the top-of-the-line DVGear Warrior. All of the units process video projects in standard and high definition.
Prices range from just over $3,000 for the Apprentice to $6,000 to $8,000 for Holbrook’s favorite that he uses regularly himself, the Warrior. Prices vary depending on how much buyers want to upgrade the already super-powerful Warrior.
In Videomaker’s article, the reviewer noted that tests of the Apprentice were so impressive that even though the equipment is being released as an entry-level choice, “Don’t let (that) fool you, this computer delivers… This computer is a good contender against top-of-the-line video editing machines.”
Videomaker’s evaluators had many technical reasons for the high rating but summed up their conclusions by noting, “This computer is made with only name-brand components. The case is well cooled with five large case fans. There’s 16 gigabytes of RAM memory … the new Nvidia Quadro 2000 … (and) two terabytes of storage in two hard drives” that are able to handle major editing and production tasks.
Also, the equipment is designed to partner with the advanced, high-end Adobe video production editing products found in its CS5 software suite.
Grant Eckstrom’s BE IT Consulting LLC is an Everett-based tech firm that handles support requests for DVGear customers. BE IT works closely with DVGear on its equipment development as well.
“Much of our success is also due to the way we treat our customers,” Holbrook said. “We market through our Web site but we don’t have a ‘cart’ to fill up with orders. You have to talk to us so we can provide exactly what you want. Our customers are wide ranging. The Apprentice, for instance, can be used by people making videos at home but it’s also an affordable video editing system for more serious producers, except they don’t have to have deep pockets.”
Holbrook said he uses name-brand, reputable parts with good manufacturer warranties throughout his machines, so he doesn’t worry about failing equipment and neither do his customers. He also likes the fact that “when trouble calls or questions come in, our customers are talking to people here in Everett, not in some foreign country.”
He’s surprised that so much of his business comes from East Coast customers, particularly in New Jersey, he said, adding, “I don’t know why, but I think it’s because they know we’re near Microsoft and that gives them confidence and a positive impression.”
Striving for superior products with affordable quality at several levels of use has brought surprises even to Holbrook.
“Even the lower-end Apprentice model impressed us in our tests when we were building it with our IT guys. That’s what we wanted, a superior product with a good profit margin that will edit even real-time video and serve a wide variety of customers at a very competitive price.”
Locally, his video-editing equipment gets a lot of use in schools.
“All the area school districts know us and their video-editing programs and studios operators love our products,” Holbrook said. “Many of them use our TriCaster equipment, which allows them to set up their own news studios and learn a lot about video. Watching the creativity of kids is really amazing.”
On the Tall Taurus production side of the business, Holbrook also creates programs for local organizations. He was working on a presentation for the Red Cross Heroes program that was held at the Tulalip Resort Hotel in December.
In 2006, he jumped on the crest of a new wave of business marketing through wall-mounted flat-screen televisions that present business profiles and product promotion in the business’ own offices and locations, a new on-site marketing venture for customers.
Spurred by his youthful dreams of making movies, Holbrook’s rising presence in video productions and editing equipment has made him one of the important players in the market. Not bad for someone who describes his background in the field as basically “self-taught.”
He read books for everything he wanted to know or use in the field, then attended classes in the University of Washington’s film and video extension program, then tried everything out by making a couple of full-length features.
One of the films, “Customer 152,” became the official selection for the 2004 New York International Independent Film Festival. Then, it was named the Best Feature of the 2005 Northwest Independent Film Festival and played in theaters in select cities across the U.S.
“It was a thrill,” he said. “For about three months I was a celebrity.”
To his audience of both amateur and professional video producers and editors, he still is.