A new episode of The Terence and Philip Show looks at what money can buy in production.
A new episode of The Terence and Philip Show looks at what money can buy in production.
When we buy goods or services, we rarely consider the time cost that is associated with the purchase.
Which is more expensive: a wifi switch for $25 or a Dimmer for $46? At first blush, the dimmer seems more expensive, but when you consider that the wifi switch didn’t work after more than 40 minutes of trying to make it work, and had to go back costing additional time, it’s no longer that good value. Consider the dimmer took less than five minutes to install and configure.
At a nominal $30 an hour value on a person’s time, the “we never got it to work” wifi switch cost $45 and we got no value at all. After a refund that “cheap” device still cost $20 and we got nothing. The dimmer’s effective cost $48.50 it was still better value even if the other device had worked!
All too often we only consider price and never consider what it costs in our time and effort. Training is a great example. Back a few years Total Training had a comprehensive After Effects training course with over 40 hours of lessons. Most people didn’t realize they were making a $10,000 investment.
Forty hours just to watch the content once. To learn you’d need to watch at least twice, more likely three times. Then to work along and reinforce the learning would be another 2-3 times the length of the course. It’s reasonable to consider that you’ll spend a month’s working time on transferring the content on the DVDs to your brain, you only have to be on $2500 a week for the cost to exceed $10,000 in lost opportunity cost. The other alternative though, is to slowly fall behind because you’re not learning enough to keep up!
Learning new software is expensive. Upgrading an operating system – even one that incurs no direct charge – is still expensive as you lose 2-3 hours of productivity. If you’re a programmer it can take a week to get back to the same development environment. That free OS upgrade could cost a programmer $3-4,000 in lost income producing time.
Don’t be fooled into valuing your time at nothing.
At the end of every episode of The Terence and Philip Show I challenge our audience to “Do something creative,” but what do I mean by ‘creative’?
Creativity is a mix of randomness and restraint: extreme and editing. If there is no randomness, no sense of doing something different, then it’s hard to be considered creative! It’s equally easy to be completely random without restraint or editing and be unable to decide what is effective design or art. (More on those later.)
A long time ago in a country far away, I employed a graphic designer for some publishing work we were doing. I distinctly remember him generating three versions of an ad where he was unable to decide which was “best.” What was so odd, was that one of the designs clearly communicated content and mood better than the other two, which was immediately obvious (to me). He had random down, but lacked the editorial eye.
Creativity isn’t something exclusive to painters, sculptors and other practitioners of the “fine arts.” While they are a sub-branch of creativity, it is not limited to fine arts. To be really creative one has to be outside common bounds, while fine arts define common bounds!
Design is creativity applied to problem solving, which is why it appeals to me. Whether that problem is an icon design, a garden landscaping challenge or a new iPhone, the same skills of trying something new and different (randomness) combined with an editorial eye, work to solve the challenge.
It’s also beholden on the designer to be aware or changed opportunities: new tools, techniques and material make new opportunities possible. Applying those new solutions is definitely creative.
Art adds another dimension: passion. For about a year I shared a house with a college art student, David Middlebrook, now one of Australia’s more prominent landscape artists. Even then he had a very savvy understanding of “art” and had two working definitions, both equally true. “Art is what the art world will buy” and the much less cynical “Art is Passion.”
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a passion for people, for landscapes or for changing the world, Art is the expression of creativity with passion.
Bottom line: you can’t be conventional and creative.
According to UploadVR.com Disney’s Jon Favreau directed the photorealistic remake of The Lion King in a VR environment created for the film.
The inevitable merge of VR and filmmaking and one that opens a lot of creative opportunity for photorealistic filmmaking, although I suspect that humans may still suffer from the Uncanny Valley effect, for a couple more iterations of technology.
What’s new in Publishing has an article today about Micropayments “unlocking an entire economy” between ads and subscriptions, which really resonates with me because it’s something I’ve really wanted, and something I’ve invested time and money into developing.
As far back as my earliest days on the Internet on the Media 100 User email Group (still alive and well BTW) I realized I’d make a nice side income if anyone I’d helped could tip me 5c or 10c. That wasn’t possible in the early 1990’s, but come to early this century we tried to bring micropayments to podcasts (via KlickTab).
KlickTab, and the Open TV Network, suffered from the classic bind of not enough content to be attractive for potential users, and not enough users to be attractive to potential content providers.
If we can find a cost effective way of allowing small “tips” (aka Patreon) or charges for an article, or a video or segment of video, that is also frictionless then it might, as the article suggests, open new streams of revenue for content creators.
Subscriptions require a regular, ongoing supply of fresh content, and a long term commitment making them less attractive for creators and consumers, but small – and appropriate – amounts for specific content requires no commitment on either side.
Nothing about my job description requires I code anything! The open secret is that I get credit for the code written by my husband and partner Gregory Clarke, so I don’ have to write code.
Now I have a 50,000′ overview of coding and the technology, enough to be an effective product manager, but I can’t code, or truly understand what Greg has written.
This makes me/us very vulnerable.
Technically I don’t need to write Swift, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll be a more effective manager if I can at least read Swift and gain a glimmer of understanding.
So, starting Sunday, I’m doing the 100 days of Swift course.
Of course, it still won’t help with all the XML knowledge Greg has, nor with the various quirks of FCP Classic, FCP X, and Premiere Pro’s handling of XML or media, but it’s a start!
As big a fan of all metadata as I am, I do acknowledge that the most useful metadata is also the most expensive to obtain. Technical metadata from the camera comes at almost no cost: set the camera correctly and metadata on frame size, codec, frame rate, Timecode, Time of Shoot, etc comes effectively free.
Not so content metadata about where the shot it, who is in the shot, what people are saying, what people are talking about (requires understanding), or where people are. That metadata takes time (and mostly human involvement) to add, making it quite expensive.
Back in 2008, when we released First Cuts for FCP, we knew the power of metadata to kick start the editing process for non-scripted production. First Cuts didn’t reach its potential because of the expense of the metadata offset some of the benefits.
That’s why I am so interested in the potential for Machine Learning to reduce the cost of acquiring Content Metadata. Once we can derive the metadata affordably, we can use that to kick-start the creative process and avoid the paralysis of an empty timeline!
After a year we revisit the role Machine Learning applied to production and distribution.
Over the last five years I’ve been learning to sing for my own enjoyment. Over that time I’ve met many talented students of the same vocal coach. It’s a constant reminder that there are way more talented people, than there are parts and fame for them!
The opening montage in A Chorus Line also demonstrates how few opportunities there are for talented dancers. Getting a long running show (on Broadway or TV) is a life changing event, but getting one usually involves a dose of good luck.
For every talented actor, dancer or singer that breaks through, there are dozens – probably hundreds – of equally talented people who were not in the right place at the right time. Who’s parents couldn’t get them to that audition, who couldn’t get time off parenting to make their first single, or however life interferes.
Obviously we prepare for the opportunity (although I doubt I’ll ever be talent scouted for my singing!) because having the opportunity and being unprepared won’t work either. The more prepared you are, and the more ways you are presenting yourself, the more the opportunity might happen.
Luck is morally neutral. Good luck happens to some, and not to others. Bad luck also happens indiscriminately. Like I said yesterday, life is unpredictably good and bad.
We rightly focus on the “big” decisions of life: high school major, college choice, partner, where to live, what job to take, etc. These are important decisions and will affect your future.
The funny thing is, some of the smallest decisions I’ve made, have had the biggest affect on my life. Deciding to leave a fairly boring nightclub to go to another, and overhearing a comment that may have been about me, and therefore changing my mind, turned out to be close to one of the most important decisions of my life, as I met Greg that night.
Some decisions are obviously “big,” but five seconds either way could be the difference between being in the path of an out of control car, or not. A life changing moment one way, barely noticed the other. Five seconds.
A stray bullet could radically change the path of our lives, with zero forethought or planning.
Or a chance meeting in a hallway at NAB might lead to one of the most productive partnerships or radical innovation the industry has seen!
It’s probably best that we don’t realize there are no small decisions, because to give every minor decision the attention it could deserve, would be crippling. I find it much easier not to dwell on it too much.