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

CAT | Random Thought

For several reasons I’ve been thinking about longevity, health and “work”. One take-away from my recent family reunion is that I have a damned good genetic heritage, and with a little care I can reasonably expect to be healthy and productive for at least another 30 years.

When I look back 30 years it’s the beginning of 1985. That’s before digital video; before the Internet; before ATMs; before Amazon; and in Australia you had to get to the bank between 10 am and 3pm Monday to Friday! Most of what I do on a daily basis was simply not possible thirty years ago. The Macintosh was only announced a few months earlier.

The world has changed a lot, and will change even more in the next thirty years. My challenge is how to optimize myself for that period of my life.

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One of the joys of 2014 for me was to learn to sing – from very much a position of sucking at it. I still suck whenever I start learning a new song. What I realized is that we have to be prepared to suck at something before we can be good at it, or even learn it.

By “sucking” at something I mean, being very, very bad at it. I realize now I’ve been there many times.

There was a time when I had no idea what XML was; now if you search that term and my name you’ll find I have a contribution to be made.

There was a time when I sucked at metadata – like XML I had no idea why it was important.

The thing is, I’ve sucked at so many things and yet, putting through the sucky period, eventually we suck a little less, then barely at all, until we arrive at a point of knowing we don’t suck at that skill or knowledge any more.

Never be afraid to start off badly: it’s the only way to learn something new.

Once upon a time it was easy to differentiate between Film and TV production: film was shot on film, TV was shot electronically. SAG looked after the interests of Screen Actors (film) while AFTRA looked after the interests of Television actors. That the two actors unions have merged is indicative of the changes in production technology.

As is noted in an article at Digital Trends, there is almost no difference between the technologies used in both styles of production, so what are the differences? It comes down to two thing, which are really the same thing.

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One of my non-metadata interests is in food, so I read a lot of food related articles, including this one where Anthony Bourdain talks about the foodie revolution. What stood out was this comment after discussing the traditional way a talented young chef might make their way through the kitchen hierarchy over decades, vs the modern “democratized” approach where a talented young chef just ups  – maybe via a food truck – and gets their career started.

“A lot of old-school guys complain about this—you’re not paying your dues. That’s the downside. The upside is interesting people with something to say and a unique worldview can actually get their name out there and open a place with relative ease compared to the way it used to be.”

This reminds me of modern production: it’s been democratized to the point where, if you have an idea, you can make it happen.

Most of the episodes of The Terence and Philip Show are edited by interns at Alpha Dogs, and we’re very thankful for their efforts. From time to time I edit a show and have always, until now, edited them in Soundtrack Pro. But I love the Magnetic Timeline in FCP X and thought it would be perfect for the audio editing. So this time I tried it, and was surprised at the results.

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Shortly after I first arrived in the USA, I was teaching some Final Cut Pro classes for Intelligent Media. It was just before Final Cut Pro 2 was released, which I had been beta testing for some months, but 1.2.5 was the release version we were teaching. At that time it was challenging for new users to get settings right, particularly getting a good match between Capture and Sequence settings, so the first half day was dedicated to teaching settings and making sure they were right. It was personally frustrating because I knew that the about-to-be-releaseed version was much smarter about settings.

As it turns out, Final Cut Pro 2 was released early the next morning, so the first thing I had to do in that second day of class was tell my students that what we had learned the day before was no longer relevant for version 2 because the software had become smarter, and that made it easier for people to use Final Cut Pro and no doubt contributed to its success.

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I was have a beer last night with my friend Joe B – @zbutcher on Twitter, follow him and check out his Final Cut Pro X curation site linking to all the stories he can find – and naturally the conversation covered the current Final Cut Pro X release and the consequent debate. In my mind, a good discussion is one I come away from with enlightened or changed thinking. And this was a good conversation. (more…)

Recent conversations – in person and on Twitter – have had me thinking about creativity and art: what are they and how do they apply to film, television and other production?

Most people associate “art” with the fine arts, but I think the term gets used without much real content. Most often “art” is conflated with “creativity”. With the additional complication that most people don’t understand what they mean by “creativity”, once again conflating it with fine art.

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After perhaps one tsunami video too many, we got to talking seriously about backup and how “secure we were”. It was a disturbing revelation, particularly for people who live in an earthquake zone where the next “big one” is expected before I die!

Of course we both have dedicated drives for our Time Machine backups (being all OS X based here) but they’re in the same physical space as our computers, so if for some reason that was destroyed, we’d be no better off than having no backup.  Ditto the demonstration media and archives of projects. Locally they’re stored on a RAID 1 drive for redundancy.

Having started raising the question, what are the answers? And that leads to the examination of what it is that you would need to get your “life back”, at least close to where it is now. I thought I’d share our thinking to stimulate your thinking, not only about a total disaster, but an immediate smaller one.

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Professionalism is for Amateurs http://tinyurl.com/45doktd

After making the case that “professionals” rejected the founders of Google, the founders of Apple and that amateurs created the “much bigger than the pro encyclopedia” Wikipedia, the article finishes with this clincher:

My reluctance to work with so called ‘professionals’ goes so far that whenever someone says “Lets do this the professional way” or “But that doesn’t seems professional” I can’t help but instinctively move in the other direction. If it seems professional to me it sounds boring and unoriginal.

Its the awkward people, the creative thinkers and the unconventional innovators that rule the world. Not the people who act ‘professional’ and follow the beaten path.

Re-invent the world; act unprofessionally!

But what really is a professional?

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