I’ve discovered I have a new allergy

It came to me last night. In the midst of a back-and-forth comment flow about the newly announced MacPro: I am allergic to people arguing about platforms.

I get all itchy when people start railing against a brand based on some new product announcement. Hearing “Apple is dead to me,” causes me to twitch. I break into a cold sweat whenever I hear someone claiming one platform is the best there is and everything else sucks. It makes me ill enough to want to leave the conversation right away.

Are people really basing their loyalty to a brand or product on an announcement of a yet-to-be-shipped product? Seriously?!? So, the newly announced MacPro won’t allow you to make use of the PCIe expansion cards you are using today? Even though you are working on a 4-year old platform? With a 6-year old technology in PCIe? Even though not a single third party software or hardware developer has announced what their plans are for working with the new platform? Well, Grant Petty from Blackmagic has good things to say, so we’ll have to see if others will follow.

I’ve watched this industry struggle through some significant changes and this argument, while changing topics, remains constant – people can’t stand change. I read it best in the comment on the Blackmagic thread above, “it’s really just the case of people wanting a bigger horse instead of a car.”

Someone asked me, after voicing my hatred of platform wars, why I continued to bother participating. I had to stop and think. I replied, “its in my nature to seek out & keep as many tools in my kit as possible. I have to stay informed and up-to-date on the latest info and trends. While it may make my skin crawl, I’ll be damned if I’m going to let knee-jerk reactions and opinionated bloviations win the day.”

“Oh my god,” came the response, “could it be possible that you’re going conservative in your old age?”

“Exactly the opposite,” I replied,” I embrace change. I love learning all this new stuff. Bring it on.”

Speak out against SOPA/PIPA

While you are waiting for the next part of the “Faster. Better…(not necessarily) Stronger” series, take some time to educate yourself about the Stop Online Piracy Act(SOPA) & The Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA). These bills are bad ideas. I’m all for protecting the rights of creators of material but SOPA and PIPA are the result of allowing a group of self-declared non-experts, who are being guided by companies who aren’t satisfied with only 40%+ market growth over 10 years to legislate something as wild and untamable as the Internet. It is a bad idea.

Educate yourself. Watch this video:

Visit killsopa.org – The EFF’s clearing house on what to do to help stop these bills from becoming laws.

Contact your representative and make them aware that you don’t want these bills to become law.

And check back tomorrow, because we’ll be here. We aren’t going dark. We’ll be posting part 2. Maybe in all that extra time you’ll have *not* surfing Reddit or Wikipedia, you can drop by here!

Faster. Stronger. . . (not necessarily) Better. – PART 2

If you recall from Monday’s post, I related an example of a very complicated and convoluted set of media files related to a one hour-long nature documentary. 10 camera formats. 1080 & 720. 23.98fps. 29.97fps. All delivered on 25 external hard drives.

With all the the recent advancements in cameras and acquisition technologies, the expectation is the process of media production should become faster, easier and more stream-lined. We associate improvement with advancement, right?  If it’s new then it must be better. As I mentioned in part one of this post, though, as media production has moved into the digital space, it has become bogged down by the plethora of choices available to creators. The work  feels more complicated and time-consuming, and it doesn’t necessarily result in a better product.

Continue reading “Faster. Stronger. . . (not necessarily) Better. – PART 2”

Faster. Stronger. . . (not necessarily) Better. – PART 1

It’s the whole premise of The Six Million Dollar Man: “We have the technology to make him better, stronger, faster than he was before!” I’m all for it in most aspects, but some things have become faster and stronger, but not really better. And in some cases, much worse than before.

Take acquisition. I’m talking about capturing material in the creation of a program. It can be whatever kind of show you’d like. Developments in digital acquisition have exploded in the last few years. We have such cool toys with which to capture events in 2D or 3D – Red EPIC, Phantom, Viper, DSLR, P2, XDCAM, F3, AF-100, 5D, 7D, C300, GoPro – the list goes on and on.

The image quality cannot be denied for many of these new cameras. They are amazing. If you had told me I would be working with HD images at 5K resolution just 5 years ago I would have doubted you. The detail and latitude these new devices provide are incredible. But there’s a downside to it all. A downside I don’t think anyone really thought through as these new technologies were being proposed, designed and invented. It’s a downside that many production people don’t see or even think about. It’s a downside that foists responsibility onto the last person in the chain of program creation that needs more responsibility.

Continue reading “Faster. Stronger. . . (not necessarily) Better. – PART 1”

What about the non-Broadcast arena?

As a followup to my previous post, I received this question (or something like it) in a few emails: “do you think this same trend will hit the non-broadcast arena?”

The answer is, it depends.

It depends on what kind of work you are doing. Final Cut Pro X is not an unusable editor for many folks. Undesirable for some, but it is capable of editing programs together. People who are editing for the web or for DVD delivery, are probably going to have very little cause to think about switching away from FCP-X.

That being said, there’s alot of stuff that FCP-X does differently than FCP7. It is different enough that, for all intents, it *is* a different NLE application. There will be a learning curve. There will be new ways you will have to learn to handle tasks in a different fashion. Some tasks just don’t work the same way as they did before. From little things like setting In & Out points on a clip to big things like media management, FCP-X will be a new thing for whoever picks it up.

So, while the main premise of my previous post doesn’t completely apply to smaller firms (Go big or stay small), I think that there needs to be some serious consideration given to the kinds of work you are currently doing and the kinds of work you might be doing in the near future. You will need to factor that in to your decision. FCP-X just isn’t going to have the same kinds of support FCP7 does. You won’t be able to send an FCP-X project to a post-house and have them work with it as-is. Once they receive it, they are going to need to run it through some extra steps in order to get a timeline exported for use in audio or color in an efficient manner.

On the other hand, both Avid Media Composer and Adobe Premiere Pro support many of the same import and export paths that FCP7 does today. So, if you are looking for the closest non-FCP match, then you may want to explore those platforms. Also, FCP7 is probably going to remain a viable editing application for a few more years. It won’t be updated, but it could probably remain serviceable for some time. What we don’t know, is if some future update to OSX or to Quicktime will break the functionality of FCP7. If that happens, then in order to maintain an FCP7 system, you will need to have a older installation of OSX and Quicktime running to make it work. In my opinion, that’s a temporary solution and not something I’d trust as my primary production platform for very long.

The issues of drive space and hardware purchases are certainly more financially driven than anything else. So if it is a case of planning for upgrades or for planning new purchases for your operation, I think you need to do your research about FCP-X, Avid, Premiere Pro and anything else to see what the future might hold for you if you make a choice to go down a certain path.