The present and future of post production business and technology

When do we jump to new technology or workflows?

The final post in my series rising out of a recent Digital Production BuZZ segment with Larry Jordan and Michael Horton. Larry asked one final, very important question.

Larry Jordan:  Because we are charged with delivering our projects on time and on budget, at what point should we resist change, like not being too close to the bleeding edge, and at what point should we embrace change?

At the simplest level, the rule to embracing change is to look for the time when there are more benefits from making the change, than there are negatives for making the change. Inherently, the higher end of the  market: the higher end studios, the higher end television shows,  are the most conservative. They will change slowly because the downside to making change at this level, is losing your job if it isn’t successful.

There’s a lot of money riding on every decision and careers are made (or broken) on those decisions, so it’s not surprising that there has to be a lot of pluses to a new workflow (camera, NLE, etc) before anyone risks a change. When there’s a lot of money at stake conservatism is the safest move. “If we do what the last show did, how could anyone blame me?” goes the reasoning.

At the other end of the spectrum are those with little to lose with their independent project, or the benefits of adopting some new camera outweigh the potential issues. The early history of the RED One Digital Cinema Camera reflects this perfectly. Only once it had been proven (with acknowledged issues) in independent features, it was used in more conventional production. Once proven elsewhere, it’s easier to be adopted by the mainstream.

So, simply, the value of the change has to be more than the pain of not changing. As Larry responded “Easy to say and hard to calculate.”




2 responses to “When do we jump to new technology or workflows?”

  1. UGH ! I finish mixing the last of 13 shows this week in… Premiere Pro CS6 ! going to broadcast TV across N.A.. Its painful as PP CS 7 fixes many crashes per show I deal with now. I find the opposite – that people worry WAY too much about going to the new while clinging to the old because, well… its what they know, it sort of works even if it crashes a LOT !, ect. … more about fear of the new than anything else, but full speed ahead for me !

  2. There’s some advantage in not being the very first adopter, but there’s no advantage at all in being the very LAST one.

    We’re not hipsters chasing the very latest whatever: we keep gear working as long as it’s paid for and is still generating revenues or is satisfying some need. When you can make an economic, business case for a change in tech or procedures, and you can point to others who have done that and succeeded, then it’s time.