It was not your normal day.
Before the doors to MacWorld opened, I had the chance to sit down with Gary Adcock, founder of Studio 37, who lives somewhere beyond the high-end of today’s market.
“So, Gary,” I asked, “is the world really going to 4K?”
“Absolutely,” he replied,
And we launched into a wonderful conversation about 4K images, quad-HD, monitors, codecs, camera formats, and an eclectic discussion of the challenges of working with $100,000 cameras and lenses.
I loved it. Gary is a gifted story-teller and I’ll write about our discussion once I understand it better. I left convinced that the march toward higher resolution was inevitable.
Then, the doors to MacWorld 2012 opened and the first booth I saw was i4Software extolling the virtues of editing video on an iPhone.
Talk about mental whiplash…!
Last night, I presented a demo on Final Cut Pro X at the San Francisco Apple Store to about 70 people. Over half the people there had not edited video before. And less than 10% (because I asked for a show of hands) had ever been paid to edit video.
This got me reflecting on who is a professional and the future of video editing.
If video is your hobby, you can view the tumult our industry is going through with a bemused smile, as you watch an industry reinvent itself from the inside out.
However, if your livelihood depends upon trying to figure out what the heck is going on, that bemused smile turns into a terrified grin because all this industry change makes you feel like you are riding in a little red wagon while traveling at breakneck speed down a foggy mountain road.
Terrifying is a good way to describe today’s professional video environment.
MacWorld made an interesting shift this year. The last time I attended, three years ago, it was all iPod covers and iPhone cases. It was in danger of become Walmart.
This year, I felt like I was in Best Buy. Something intriguing lurked around each corner. There were the obligatory covers and cases – including, yes, an iPhone case that doubled as a bottle opener – but there were interesting vendors hidden in plain sight.
MacWorld showcased the world of mobile devices. I was reminded of the photographer’s credo: “The camera in your hand is better than the camera you left at home.”
As I walked the show floor I saw crowds in the i4Software booth learning how to shoot and edit video on an iPhone using their Video Camera app.
Cinefy showed its app for video editing on the iPhone.
Blue showcased their family of professional mics that plugged directly into an iPhone or iPad.
MicW Audio highlighted some amazing small mics – both lavaliere and condenser that plugged directly into an iPhone or iPad.
iPro Lens presented its wide angle and fish-eye lenses for the iPhone.
Audio Engine devoted their booth to wirelessly streaming 24-bit audio from a computer to a personal or professional sound system.
And, probably my favorite booth was IndiSystem. This was run by a long-time grip with an infectious smile, who, in addition to a wealth of ideas, has access to 3D modeling tools, aluminum extruders, precision lathes, and a plastic model shop. He runs a hardware-creation toy store! Out of this, he created iSupport: incredible camera accessories – like jibs, camera sliders, and grips – for the iPhone. Perfect tools for photographing miniatures!
After walking MacWorld, I was reminded of Wayne Gretzke’s famous quote: “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”
The high-end of the market is not going away; the world of Gary Adcock attests to that.
But the tools are changing. And I think MacWorld is showing us where the puck is going to be. Not for the high-end, perhaps, but for the rest of us.
Last night, at the SuperMeet, Alex Buono, the head of the Film Unit for Saturday Night Live, explained that he gets a script on Thursday, shoots on Friday, and airs on Saturday. Speed and workflow are everything to him. He shoots on a variety of cameras, with emphasis on the Canon 5D, 7D, and 1D. (And the new Canon C300.)
With budgets continually shrinking, camera technology morphing on a daily basis, and deadlines ridiculously short, I think we need to redefine “professional.”
There is a time and place for “heavy iron.” Some shows require all the equipment we can throw at them… (I was told recently that the SuperBowl will have 43 robotically controlled cameras this year.)
But all too often we define ourselves in terms of the tools we use. As soon as we do that, however, we limit our opportunities.
At the SuperMeet lounge last night, I was hanging around the Peachpit Press booth when an editor walked up and told me that when he first saw a demo of Adobe Premiere in 1997, he was busy editing linear tape and laughed when Adobe showed how to do a DVE move in software.
“Shoot,” he said, “with our equipment we pressed a few buttons on the switcher, recorded it live, and we were done.”
“Yes,” I said, “but it took you three-quarters of a million dollars of equipment to do it.”
“Ah,” he replied, laughing, “but it wasn’t my money!”
Today, it’s our money. And our time. And this affects our ability to feed our families. Technology this year is in a whirlwind of evolution, constrained only by the sluggishness of the economy.
Philip Hodgetts presented three ideas last night at the SuperMeet that can help us grow our business. He suggested we:
Just as the DV revolution undermined film, the new mobile revolution threatens a lot of what we used to believe in. But it also provides us a lot of opportunities if we recognize that people coming new to video on mobile devices can benefit from what we know.
Forcing the story to fit the technology you know is a trap. It will work for the short-term, but longer term you get pigeon-holed in a backwater with no clients. Don’t let old habits prevent you from learning new techniques.
All of us are story-tellers at heart. Focus on the story and your creative approach to it. When you let the story guide you to the technology it needs to be told, you will always be in demand.
People pay money to hear good stories well told. They could care less about the gear you use to tell them.
Let me know what you think,
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