Archive for February, 2011

Compressor Troubleshooting

February 27th, 2011

If you’re working with Final Cut Studio , you might have experienced some trouble with Compressor. For instance, after some time on one machine at my workplace you couldn’t transcode on the machine itself, only other machines available on the network (for insiders: the qmasterd service not launching story). Or in another case Compressor (or rather the Batch Monitor) kept aborting the transcode with strange Quicktime errors.

In order to fix this, Apple put a Troubleshooting Guide online, but before you start try’n’error with it, I suggest you download Compressor Repair from Digital Rebellion, it really works wonders and fixed both of the problems I was talking about above without the hassle of a reinstall. Speaking of which I also recommend the FCS Remover app from the same company to get the software off your disk in the first place.

Why You Want a Prize (Really)

February 23rd, 2011

Why is it that even after 30, 50 or 80 years we still admire feature films that have won an OSCAR? Is it because they’re really good (by whatever measures) or because they’ve won a prize, or maybe in between? When we look at all the other films from any given year, we’re not feeling the same way, are we? You’ll always find some flaw in them, and sometimes, you’ll even find the whole thing shabby, having poor image quality, bad sound design, a cheap score, what-have-you.

But in the day the film was new, it was different. And that’s what we forget when looking at whatever product, but especially ones that are more or less art — not only are they influenced by fashion trends of their genre, but of course also of production standards at their time. Today your $99 mobile phone shoots video with better image quality than a camera that cost $50,000 twenty years back. Today your $300 PC can (technically) help you create a more lavish sound design than a full-fledged studio in the mid-90s.

This applies for other areas as well. Only eight years back, you cold earn a lot of respect with web programmers when you developed your own CMS. Not today, because it’s an unnecessary effort — there’s more than a dozen free systems out there, why start from scratch?

How about your work? Are the things you’ve done and achieved worth acknowledging by today’s standards? Has the bar that used to protect your field of expertise lowered in a way that pretty much anyone can compete with you? And has the bar that marks outstanding results raised so high you hardly come close? And which is worse?

When more or less everything becomes ubiquitous, when everything is always available in one form or another, when scarcity is not a problem to deal with anymore, you’re way better off when you have managed to earn a prize with what you done, no matter when, it won’t really lose any of its shine. Even better when this one prize has a tradition and still exists today. It helps you stand out, makes you a winner, not only of the award, but overall, and for a long time to come.

It Doesn’t Matter Where You’re From

February 15th, 2011

It only matters where we can find you, which is a very different thing.

Today I noticed a flyer for a concert, and each of the band logos had a caption telling me where the band was from. Guess what, I don’t care. Instead, what I care about is where I can listen to their music to decide whether I want to see their show or not.

When you have only one chance, say something that helps people proceed, don’t make them stop.

It’s the Couch

February 8th, 2011

I used to say that TV as we know it is not going to exist much longer than 10 or 15 years, which I still don’t want to withdraw — simply because it’s a long time span in which a lot will happen. What I want to focus on instead is why it’s not happening earlier. It’s because of the couch. Yes, you heard me alright, the couch — and what goes with it.

The couch defines the place you live in as your home. Bed, bathroom, kitchen — these are things you find anywhere you’re staying. The couch makes all the difference. I just realized the other day that the last place I was living in didn’t feel like home — because I never bought a couch. Other associations with the couch are family, togetherness, all deeply rooted within us, and it’s a perfect symbol for comfort, relaxation, and hedonism.

And if you’re not living in a place where you have a marvelous vista from your living-room, I guess opposite to your couch there’s a TV set. The window to the world. Not only one world, but hundreds of worlds. All of them right in front of you in your zone of maximum comfort, and if you don’t like one, -zap!- there’s another. This is a very different experience from browsing YouTube, even if it’s on your TV set, because the former is not only a programme scheme designed by professionals (which you would have to create yourself on the Web), it also conveys a lot less responsibility in terms of what you are watching, because it’s pure consumption (or not). When you’re the programme director, you have a lot more responsibility for how happy you are with what’s on the screen, because first you have to decide what should be running, and only then you’re back in your consumer role to decide whether you like it or not. That’s a lot more stress to deal with, and we, being lazy humans, don’t favour that.

That said, the audience dynamics on the Web are entirely different from those towards TV. A successful programme like the German version of “Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares” would in my opinion falter on the Web because I think you just can’t build an equally loyal fan base, aside from the fact that financing the show to be broadcast Web-only is close to impossible. But what Christian Rach, the German Gordon Ramsay, could do, is to have a video series of cooking tips on a website, with sponsored links to markets where you could pre-order and pick up your ingredients, or, to keep it low-tech, just see if they’re in stock. And a bazillion of other ways to monetize his popularity, aside from the obvious books  (of which he has published three). But the TV format as it is would not translate to the Web.

As long as TV is more about the overall experience than what’s on the screen (the same transition cinema has gone through several years ago), it’s not going away anytime soon. Ever bigger screens, 3D display any other gadgetry support this even further, so the battle (if there is one) will be decided elsewhere.

Chances

February 7th, 2011

Whenever you’re offered a chance that requires you to wait, not to argue or any other form of being passive, it’s not a chance. It might be one for the one who’s giving you this “friendly advice”, but not for you.

A real chance is an occassion when you have to be active, sometimes exceed your limits and putting something that’s perceived as right or valuable as of now at risk, so something better can be achieved.

Something For Nothing

February 4th, 2011

Picture this: A financially strong company builds a mall including all the infrastructure making it a super-hip (yet slightly expensive) place everybody loves. And no surprise everybody who used to have a shop with slowly declining revenue downtown craves the bonanza. And they understand they don’t get mining rights for free. We understand when we sell something on someone else’s premises they expect a share of one kind or another.

It’s also the way advertising works. Whoever wants to place an ad somewhere has to pay the owner of the channel because, well, he’s the owner. It’s ironic that people who used to own the channel, i.e. print publishers, don’t understand that when putting their channel inside another channel, i.e. the iPad, the owner of the latter won’t give it to them just like that.

Sometimes you eat the pear, and sometimes, well, it eats you. (huh?)

Pick One

February 3rd, 2011

Something I learned today (not by myself): When you invite three candidates for a pitch (or job interview or…) and two totally screw up, making the obvious choice to pick the one that didn’t may feel like you’re picking the next best one — which is obviously a different choice than picking the best, and not as easy. Hint: Merely raising the number of people invited won’t necessarily cut it.