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.”