The present and future of post production business and technology | Philip Hodgetts

Archive for July 14th, 2010

Science enters iPhone 4 Aerial debate! Turns out Consumer Reports may not have had the most rigorous science in their testing.

On Reception – The iPhone 4 hysteria – The Real Life/Lab Test Conundrum

Yes, the iPhone 4 is broken / No, the iPhone 4 is not broken

Analyst says ‘Consumer Reports’ test of the iPhone 4 is flawed, ‘barely scientific

But, of course, rational discourse doesn’t boost page views at websites, so we get the wildly irrational comments from those who just want to take Apple down a peg.

Ultimately I think Techcrunch has the last word after pointing out that the big fuss over Facebook Privacy that was going to cause everyone to leave Facebook just two months ago, and yet Facebook has had their best month ever:

The reality of the situations in these massively-hyped controversies is often quite boring. No one is quitting Facebook over privacy concerns because most people are oblivious or simply don’t give a shit (sometimes for good reason, sometimes not). In fact, Facebook is growing just as fast as before. Maybe faster. And millions of people are going to continue to buy the iPhone 4 because it’s the phone they want. If there’s a problem with the reception, they’ll deal with it by moving their hands a few inches or buying a bumper.

But no one wants to read those stories. Hell, I don’t want to write those stories. They’re boring. No service is dying, no users are getting maimed. But often, that’s the way it is.

BTW, I’m placing my iPhone 4 order today.



Letting the Machines Decide

Letting the Machines Decide (If you get stymied by the WSJ pay wall, simply go to and enter “Letting the Machines Decide” and follow the link to the WSJ around the paywall.)

I know, not my usual stuff, but I have an abiding interest in all forms of artificial intelligence because, ultimately, I believe we’ll be able to apply a lot of the techniques and technologies developed for AI to automating Postproduction. Heresy, I know, but bear with me.

Anything that can be analyzed and systematized can be automated. When we were developing First Cutsour tool for taking long-form documentary log notes and converting them to very fast First Cuts – the most challenging part of the exercise wasn’t teaching the computer to do something, it was analyzing what I did as an editor to make a “good” edit. Just imaging how complex are the rules for placing b-roll!

So, with that background and a belief that a lot of editing is not overtly creative (not you of course dear reader, your work is supremely creative, but those other folk, not so much!). It can be somewhat repetitive with a lot of similarities.

Just like the complexities of stock trading: knowing when to buy, when to hold and when to sell.

The programs are effective, advocates say, because they can crunch huge amounts of data in short periods, “learn” what works, and adjust their strategies on the fly. In contrast, the typical quantitative approach may employ a single strategy or even a combination of strategies at once, but may not move between them or modify them based on what the program determines works best.

What I think is really interesting is that the software tools started to act contrary to what an experienced trader would do, but:

In early 2009, Star started to buy beaten-down stocks such as banks and insurers, which would benefit from a recovery. “He just loaded up on value stocks,” said Mr. Fleiss, referring to the AI program. The fund gained 41% in 2009, more than doubling the Dow’s 19% gain.

The firm’s current portfolio is largely defensive. One of its biggest positions is in gold stocks, according to people familiar with the fund.

The defensive move at first worried Mr. Fleiss, who had grown bullish. But it has proven a smart move so far. “I’ve learned not to question the AI,” he said.

And that’s what we discovered. One night – after a couple of glasses of red wine – we decided to throw a “stupid” combination of story keywords at First Cuts to see what it would do. Well, would you believe in the six minute edit that eventuated, I only wanted to move one clip, and its associated b-roll, one shot early (swapping it) and as far as I was concerned the edit was done.

Lack Of Food Copyright Helps Restaurant Innovation Thrive Fashion industry also benefits from NO copyright.

Simply put, if the arguments of those in the entertainment industries were true, then there would be no innovation in restaurants or fashion because of the lack of copyright. (You can’t copyright a garment design or a food dish.) These industries thrive because of the lack of copyright.

When there is strong copyright protection – as the RIAA and MPAA have fought for over the years – the creators tend to sit on their hands and collect royalties (or those who actually own the copyright, rarely the actual creator) rather than go out and create more. The original intent of Copyright – grudgingly included in the US Constitution by the Founder – was to promote the creation of new works, by providing a limited time of exclusive rights before all creative works would fall into the Public Domain.

BTW, there’s actually a reasonable argument that since the US Constitution specifically:

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

Music, film and Television are not “Science” and “useful Arts” is correctly interpreted as those that make things –  like Carpentry. Note that our favorite “big copyright” claimers may not even have a Constitutional leg to stand on.

Anyhow, the article on how and why food and fashion thrive outside of copyright, is well worth the read.

Reader Ephraim points us to a recent post at the Freakonomics blog that highlights how the restaurant business absolutely thrives creatively, despite a lack of copyright protection. The main example: the rise of Korean taco trucks in LA. As you may or may not know (and trust me, you’re better off if you are familiar with this trend), a few years back, some enterprising folks set up a Korean taco truck in LA called Kogi. It quickly became a huge sensation, in part because the food is awesome and in part through smart marketing, including being one of the first food establishments to actively embrace Twitter. 

But what happened next is quite interesting. Throughout LA (and now around the country) there’s been an explosion of Korean taco trucks. And, it’s not just limited to trucks. As the article notes, the large chain Baja Fresh is now offering Korean tacos as well. Believers in strong copyright have trouble explaining why this happens. According to them, without copyright as an “incentive to create” people won’t innovate because they can’t be rewarded, but that’s not what’s happening at all:



RIAA paid its lawyers more than $16 M to recover $391K!

RIAA paid its lawyers more than $16,000,000 in 2008 to recover only $391,000!!!

Rather than actually work on a new business model to replace the one that served the labels well when distribution was by physical (and therefore limited/scarce) goods, but instead of facing the inevitable the RIAA has tried to sue its fans out of existence and lobby for changes to Copyright Legislation to support a business model that has been obsoleted by a market and technology that’s simply moved on.

It’s worth noting that, while the recorded-music-on-physical-media business (the only one the Record Labels are in) is dying, the overall music business has never had it better. Ditto the movie business. More music and movies being made than ever; more people making decent livings off their music or movie making than ever.

But one business model – like the buggy whip, lamplighter, Linotype operator, et. al – is becoming superceded. Unless they adapt dinosaurs like the RIAA and MPAA members will dies. And it cant’ be soon enough for my taste.

The RIAA paid Holmes Roberts & Owen $9,364,901 in 2008, Jenner & Block more than $7,000,000, and Cravath Swain & Moore $1.25 million, to pursue its “copyright infringement” claims, in order to recover a mere $391,000. [ps there were many other law firms feeding at the trough too; these were just the ones listed among the top 5 independent contractors.]

Author Puts Novel Online For Free… And Gets A Book Deal And sometimes self-publishing can lead to a deal with a major book publisher as has happened to Mac Video’s Rick Young who now publishes his Easy Guide to Final Cut Pro.

In this example, the author put her “young adult vampire novel” on document distribution site Scribd for free and the resulting publicity helped land a traditional book deal.

Now, just giving your content away for free and praying for a return isn’t going to work, but there are – according to my How to Grow and Monetize and Audience for your Independent Project seminar – 13 or 14 ways to use free distribution of content as a way of selling something else.

The rationale is that digital content is not scarce – it’s very easily reproducible for virtually nothing – then it’s hard to sell, because classic economics is based on scarcity. There are those who have tried to create artificial scarcity for digital goods, but those have generally failed badly. Where there has been success is where the infinite digital good is distributed free in order to promote something scarce: like concert tickets, merchandise and so on.

This is not that removed from traditional Record Label deals where the band makes nothing from their music but does from touring.

July 2010
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