March 20, 2010

Allies and foes

Filed under: business,internet,marketing,media,music,politics — Erik Dobberkau @ 18:49

Business organizations can be treacherous (this includes everything from worker unions to copyright associations. Not to forget insurance.). They team up with organizations you don’t want to team up with. They will take measures you don’t agree with to achieve goals that are not yours, like lobbying politically to rewind the system back to a better ten years ago instead of envisioning a better tomorrow. It might be a good idea to really look into their activities before joining them, just because “common sense recommends”, before people you thought to be your allies will turn out to be your foes.

The Cloud and the Cracks

Filed under: general — Erik Dobberkau @ 12:01

When speaking of change, people tend to have a notion that they will see it coming, like a large dusty cloud on the horizon when the storm is coming. When they see it, they assume, there’ll be enough time to take measures and prepare. While they’re so busy looking at the distance, they do not realize the cracks in the ground underneath their feet.

March 17, 2010

3D for you and me

Filed under: creativity,video,workflow — Erik Dobberkau @ 11:38

FX makers idustrial revolution have posted a tutorial (sorry, they seem to have taken it down in early 2012) on how to create 3D video using Apple’s Motion and Final Cut Pro with a plugin called Stereo 3D Toolbox, made by DP Tim Dashwood. Tim also has a series of tutorials for 3D editing and compositing on his site. Terrific! [Update: Tim’s place has moved to]

Ten years earlier

Filed under: business,creativity,internet,marketing,music,personal,video — Erik Dobberkau @ 08:23

Everyone (including myself) feels a little stuck now and then, and sometimes, a (despaired) thought springs to mind: “If I were born ten years earlier, I’d have a better standing in my industry today.” The range of years may vary because every industry and organization seems to have their own, say, rhythm or evolution periods.

The point is, ten years earlier, it was much harder to get where you are now. What gets you here today didn’t get you anywhere 10 years ago. Good news: In ten years’ time, the stakes for the ones to follow will be even higher. For example: If you wanted to be a great Compositing Artist to work on Lord of the Rings ten years ago, you would have had to get started doing compositing in the early 90s. Back then, it was close to impossible to find a company that would even do this on a computer workstation, because NLE hadn’t even entered the mass market (and workstations that could do these kinds of effects cost as much as a spaceship. Well, almost.). Or in marketing, ten years ago direct mail, cold calls and door to door sales were king. Anybody want to try them today? Same with music. What used to be extreme and edgy ten years ago won’t impress as much today.

Back then it was the freaks, the people who were really passionate about their ideas, who would lean into it and do whatever it would take to turn vision into reality. This hasn’t changed. The only difference is they were pioneers, today there’s a field you have to surpass. It has become harder (but not impossible) to be pioneer from the very beginning. Most boundaries that used to be on your doorstep ten years ago are now somewhere out there. But they haven’t gone away. Now you have to find them before you can push them. That’s why expertise matters, and the only way to build your own expertise is to do what you’re passionate about.

March 16, 2010

My personal highlight today

Filed under: general — Erik Dobberkau @ 21:54

This is so great, it almost made me cry. I’ve been thinking on this issue for quite some time now, and Seth wrote a stunning post about it today.
(Spoiler alert: He too does not have an answer that solves it once and for all. — readable by highlighting… but you’re taking the fun out of it.)

It’s a video, not a viral

Filed under: general — Erik Dobberkau @ 21:45

CommonCraft, a company run by Lee and Sachi LeFever, are creating brilliant explanatory videos. And because their style is unique and their videos are short and free to watch on their site, you might assume they’re part of a viral marketing campaign. But Lee posted an interesting statement today — another lesson on assumptions. Read it here.

March 15, 2010

Two kinds of bait for one fish

Filed under: general — Erik Dobberkau @ 18:14

Yesterday we went to the movies to watch this famous 3D movie. I ordered tickets online (which doesn’t seem to work if you’re not willing to give your credit card data to a third party), where it was also mentioned that you could buy 3D specs for € 1,-. When we arrived at the desk, the guy behind it told us specs were € 2,- but he would give us a voucher so the second pair came free…

Both stories work. But not at the same time.

March 12, 2010

The Manual

Filed under: general,workflow — Erik Dobberkau @ 06:42

Opinions differ a lot on this topic, whether to have one or not, if it’s more harm than use, accelerator or brake pad.

Here’s my take: In all the jobs I’ve been working so far, the number of the ones where a manual existed totals up to zero. This is because in Germany having a manual for a job is not common practice. Why? Um, maybe because the downside of a manual is that people respect paper more than people, so if your boss wants you to do something different than “your job” you could always retreat to “sorry, that’s not in my manual”, so a failure wouldn’t be your fault. Without the manual, there’s no shield for you to hide behind. Maybe. Also, making a manual requires analysis and breaking down what your company is doing step by step, and you might end up figuring that the thing is going horribly wrong and you need to do something. But it’s been working so far, and as they say, never touch a running system.

But whenever I commence a new job, there needs to be someone removed from their job to give me the rules and “this is how we do it here”. And of course, the co-workers are also very engaged to correct, update and footnote as we go along. Hint: It’s no use. Can’t keep it all in mind at once. So I’ve always sat down and taken my time to write down procedures. This can be a carthatic process, because it tells you more about where you’ve ended up than you might want to know.

The real advantage of a manual unfolds when it’s not regarded as cast in stone, but as a wiki, work-in-progress or milestone tracking tool. To say “This is how we do it at the moment, subject to change, if you feel like contributing and help us to improve our procedures, please do so. Remember, the specs mentioned in it are the lowest possible standard here, we want to do better — and we want you to do better, since we hired you because we believe you will do better”. Wouldn’t that be great?

March 11, 2010

In Charge or in Control?

Filed under: business,personal — Erik Dobberkau @ 22:11

I always wonder what makes people want to advance in their career, get promoted to a better position. And I always end up thinking that it’s not because of the temptation of more responsibility, the desire to lead, to have more leverage to initiate change — but the selfish desire to make use of the system as it has been established, pass pressure to the subordinates, reap the rewards yourself. An eye for an eye. Self justice if you will. It’s not about being in charge, it’s about being in control.

If you really want to be in charge, you can start today, whatever your position in the organization is. If there’s something you think that needs to be improved, changed or abolished, make it your mission to achieve exactly that. The worst that can happen is that whoever is in control tells you to stop it. And I’m sure you’ll find another thing that needs to be fixed. It’s a question of your mindset, not your environment.

March 10, 2010

Skip over DVD tracks

Filed under: video,workflow — Erik Dobberkau @ 13:52

Here’s a short tech hint:
When authoring a compilation DVD with multiple tracks, there’s a little problem when using a “play all” script, because you can only skip from chapter marker to chapter marker within one track, but not from chapter marker 10 in track A to chapter marker 1 in track B, which would be next. What does the trick quite well is to insert some black (or whatever colour you want) frames at the end of the track and put another marker there, so you skip to after the last picture of the current track and the track ending script is executed, loading the next track.

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