Thursday, March 6, 2014

Shall we fix it?

Time is Money
    In business, I hear time and time again (and have even found myself adopting) this mode of thought that “time is money”.  In a sense, yes: time is indeed money.  However, I’ve come to the conclusion this is a misnomer at best, and when used as teaching tool to younger generations entering into any industry can be a dangerous masquerade at worst.
    Most forms of business, and even freelance work often operate on hourly-rate formulas to derive a set rate or fee for any product or service.  But if we take the term in its entirety, “Time is Money” cannot absolutely be true in any measurable sense.  If time equals money then why are we not generating income for every second we live? Granted, there are indeed some individuals at the very top of some very wealthy industries that are earning a predictable income that can be averaged out for every moment of their lives whether they are working or not.
    If time you spend working = money, then it becomes a completely conditional statement that only time spent working is the time you will earn money.  Neither of these in reality are true, though.  Is there a compromise? I propose then, that not all time is created equal.
    Coming back to economics, all products and services, content in any form of media or other apparatus takes time.  Time taken to be dreamed up, contemplated to various degrees, designed, fixed into some sort of tangible medium of expression to communicate or share with others. Everyone, even children come up with ideas.  That’s right, we’re talking about creators, inventors; those with ideas.  It’s clear in this economy that no one is going to live sustainable life, or “get ahead” by working at your local burger flipping joint serving others.  Not that there is anything inherently wrong with that job.  What’s wrong is the economics gap everyone seems to be facing.  We’ve shifted from a labor driven society to an idea driven society, and ideas are the new prime real estate.
    Right now, the current definition of a copyright is essentially:
“the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, sell, or distribute the matter and form of something (as a literary, musical, or artistic work).”
    And Intellectual Property is defined as:

"Something (such as an idea, invention, or process) that comes from a person's mind.”

The Longer Arm of the Lawless

    The conventions used to describe copyright and intellectual property are the basis for all of modern society’s living comforts, graces, and novelties.  They permeate the lifestyles we live. Without copyright we may very well not have much of the advanced technology and entertainment that we have today.  Piracy is one of the most highly debated topics and points of interest, and it’s because of the extreme focus on ideas being the new prime real estate that piracy exists in the form and scale that it does now.  It is quite simply the other side of the same coin. 
    Many corporations and private firms have compiled varying statistics on the reported damage piracy is allegedly causing on industries where their products or content can be digitally transmitted, technically allowing us to call the internet the “high seas” of the information era.
    As society grows more and more advanced and our population continues to boom at an even faster rate than our economies can sustain, we’re going to face troubled times.  Many scientists and researchers of all fields have backed statements that our earth can sustain an exponentially larger population than we have now, so why are we dealing with so much turmoil?  Prices of things continue to increase while the working class gets less and less pay in return for the inflated costs of things they need or want to buy to the point where they simply spend less because they have less to spend. 
    Bubbles come about as social interest tries to drive into a field of work or profession that becomes so heavily saturated that there simply isn’t enough work to sustain everyone trying to get in.  Over competition in the marketplace by freelance individuals who have spent and invested way less than established individuals, unions, and groups combined will begin to offset the landscape of the economy. This obfuscates the “professional standard” of which the clientele seeking the services or products will be buying into, and thus driving down acceptable wages to the point where even those small startup and individual “semi-pro’s” cannot earn a living through that profession alone.  This used to not be so prevalent of a problem but the “barrier to entry” into the media professions have decreased drastically as technology gets ever more affordable.
    Let’s reverse for a second.  Let’s say you’re an entrepreneur starting your own freelance service. You have a name and you publish your intellectual properties to be shared with the world for a profit. You are a business.  Let’s say you design and manufacture hardware.  Operating your business comes at a steep overhead – there are costs associated with every step from maintaining a license, leasing or owning land to put your facility on so you can hire workers to build your product.  When someone either inside or outside of your company takes your product without paying for it, in today’s social terms it’s considered stealing.  When someone decides they like your product but doesn’t believe they should have to buy it to own it, they can simply design their own version.  What’s to stop them from doing this? Absolutely nothing. The moment they enter their version into the legal system via a patent to try and make a profit out of its design and start a business selling their version is the moment you have to work not only to continue perpetuating your business, but also fight this new competitor down any way you can. First, you have to find out legally if you have any claim against this person’s product to see if it might have violated any copyright/patent you may have laid claim on for design schematics.  Dealing with this form of piracy can be a headache and a nightmare.
    What about consumer piracy?  With content like music, movies, and software meant to run on computers being completely digital, what exactly can one do to fight piracy?  One of the first industries to get hit heavily by piracy in the internet boom was the music industry.  Napster, one of the first major peer-to-peer file sharing services became a historical icon in the changing landscape of our reality as it shifts more and more into a dual-reality.  Up until this point, the music industry had enjoyed a lengthy and prosperous growth.  It was one of the allures of Hollywood besides film, as its exclusiveness drew in creative people who have a passion for art and music that knew (then) the only way to be successful as a music artist was to “go to Hollywood” and sign with a label. At least that’s the way the business had developed and would spin marketing to have everyone believe; they could do so easily because their business model worked in this landscape.
    The first blow supposedly took the music industry by storm, according to news outlets aligned with covering the big businesses.  Associated Press outlets have a habit of knowing that bad news is good for news.  Things get sensationalized, conflagrated in the ecstasy of reporting something happening in the world, under the merit that it’s serving the journalistic integrity and enlightening everyone.  The truth is Napster was one of many peer-to-peer services that popped up, but Napster had the largest user base trafficking major labels’ highest grossing media, so naturally that is what got the attention of the RIAA and other firms.
The Big, Overblown Picture
    Reports began buzzing with statics showing the number of pirated copies of all sorts of top media content, and then started spreading into other industries that wanted to know statistics.  We continue now to the current time where TV shows and Films are the top trafficked content on pirate networks, and piracy continues to “change” the landscape of our media and consumerism.  But let’s step back for a second, clearly we haven’t learned our lesson from how it’s affected the music industry.
    Some might argue the first blow was piracy to the music industry, but its unclear just how to argue that definitively.  What is clear, is that the music industry felt its reputation at stake.  Retaliation was the first public showcase in the form of lawsuits.  First, shutting down of Napster.  Later, the aligning with the RIAA to private investigation firms to upload false files to track down “pirates” and send them legal letters.  The strong-arm tactics ranged from cease and desist letters all the way to the claims of legal recourse and demands of financial recompense.  Eventually these tactics started getting a bad rap and have subsided from mainstream news reporting. 

    Clearly going after your consumers that want the content was creating a negative public image.  But look at the music industry now.  Sony, and many other big names have closed many of their largest studios over the last decade due to the changing times.  There is still much blame being pointed at piracy as the cause of this slow implosion of big label business.  Now, artists (big and small) are giving away their content for free.  Spotify, Pandora, Soundcloud, and Youtube have popped up and allow everyone instant access to an infinite library of music on demand.  How are any of these artists making any money?  We’ve gone from fighting with legal representation and show of force against those that would “steal” or “pirate” the content, to giving it to them freely.
    Let’s step back again to the internet boom and those good old “Napster” days and look at it from a less discussed angle.  Internet has certainly taken the world by storm.  Technology in general has been moving at break-neck speeds these last few decades.  While so much controversy has been stirred up around internet and piracy, seeing numbers flop and businesses feel the stretch of their dollar harder and harder, there’s another unseen force that they certainly seem very cautious about shaking their finger at.
    Up until the early 90’s, recording technology was pretty exclusive to wealthy individuals, often who most likely owned or operated commercial level studios.  The equipment was expensive, hard to get, and just plain took up lots of space.  Your average consumer simply couldn’t afford recording gear to make a record themselves.  While the internet was growing, costs of technology and the advances being made to computers started democratizing this alluring industry trade downward to the consumer.  Digidesign, a well-known developer of Pro Tools software and supplementary hardware, started their impetus of capturing the end user – the aspiring musician or songwriter, providing them with the basic tools for capturing their ideas.
    From then to now, it’s pretty easy to see how the shift has gone from specialization, to democratization.  Digidesign is just one example of a company that’s empowered the democratization.  It’s a no brainer when technology gets more affordable that businesses are going to enjoy this fact, but it’s come to a point where the affordability has pretty much put every professional tool directly into the hands of the consumer.  It no longer takes multiple millions of dollars to make a song, though the labels are still in the practice of spending big money on producing “hits.” 
    We can see the trends that were set in the music industry, and it’s pretty easy to follow them as they’re already heavily affecting the film and video industries.  In fact, the bigger the industry the more devastating it seems to be.  While many major label studios have closed their doors over the years, music studios are survived by smaller project and home studios.  The longevity isn’t lived by the specialized skillsets in “factories” of music anymore, but rather with the individual.  Everything is about reputation now.  With film and visual effects, it’s a bit of a different game.  We’re seeing some tumultuous times with Visual Effects houses and film companies as the battle for economic stability during a time of runaway production budgeting is at its largest. 
    Ang Lee’s Life of Pi was the most recent, and most public of the turmoil’s between filmmaker and visual effects houses.  Rhythm & Hues was filing for bankruptcy while they were up on stage at an awards ceremony receiving a prestigious award for their amazing work on the Ang Lee film.  It’s not the first, and it certainly won’t be the last.  But since this moment, it’s become the epicenter for a lot of publicity and discussion.

    Here’s where we’ve really missed our lesson.  Film productions are so big and expensive that they are literally looking to government support to help produce them!  Tax credits, rebates, and subsidy programs have become the norm for filmmaking these days, and it’s actually such a problem that it’s uprooting production companies and creating this sort of “legal ballet” dance as we see production companies jump from location to location to produce their film not because the location was the best pick for the content, but because of tax credits and financial breaks!

Just how big of an issue is this?  In the economy article reported by the National Journal, The Wolf of Wallstreet with a reported budget of $100 million actually cost the taxpayers of New York $30 million!  That’s nearly 30% of the films entire budget.  Keep in mind those taxpayers still had to pay the price of admission to see the film, and still have to obey the copyright laws should they feel so inclined to pirate the movie.
    How would you feel if the taxation continued to inflate as the media industries continue to boom while simultaneously struggling to match the ever-inflating cost of production?  Why are we getting taxed in the first place? Do you feel this is a severe misuse of civil taxation?  Is this issue rooted much deeper than just the media and entertainment industries?

The Road Ahead Still Leads Somewhere

    I don’t pretend to have any answers, but this topic of economic disparity and the widening gap between the lower class and middle class IS solvable.  Where we need to start looking is at the sources of these problems in our societies and cultures.  The answer won’t lie in just tackling one little aspect of a problem at a time, we have to find a way to shift beyond the conventions that brought us to where we have arrived at this juncture. 
    Robert Reich said it well, “We need to get big money out of politics”, and I believe that is a great starting point.  Special interest groups and lobbying are all supported by large funding campaigns, even the way our representatives end up in office is often with their hands stuck in someone else’s pocket and thus having to bend to make accommodations for those people’s private interests.  Large Film companies lobbying to gain tax credits is one such example of bad politics.

    But the real solutions and impetus for change lies with the people, you and me.  It’s going to take everyone.  We need our public enlightened, engaged, and aware.  Then, and only then can we start to ask the serious questions and start thinking about answers.

    Here are some possible ideas for change, specifically suggesting business practices: Be more transparent, publicize your business. 

    Dear media: the illusion has already been revealed.  The people that care about how it’s made and done will be inspired just as much by how you did it and what it took to achieve it as the content itself was meant to inspire for the audience that just wants to enjoy it. 

    Dear “big business”: there’s far too many of us inspired individuals for you to keep out.  Change is inevitable. Barriers to entry are falling every day, and those that have the drive and passion will stop at nothing to succeed however they can.  Certainly there is a middle road where we can all co-exist peacefully but that means there will be compromises.

Where Do We Go From Here?

    At the core we have to rethink our definition of copyright and intellectual property if we want to make any sort of progress.  People will argue up and down to no end fighting this simple point: digital copying and Sharing of information cannot, and should not ever be mistaken for theft.

    Information wants to be free.  We can shackle it up, contain it, and put out name all over it, but those are all illusionary devices we have made up to serve ourselves.  Entire industries have been established by ideas, inventions, and processes.  The industrial age was an era where factories ruled the commerce world, but today in the information age people are the commodity and their ideas can be taken with them wherever they may roam.  Robert Reich had another great point: a factory is large and immobile.  If you don't like the way your company is being treated by the employees or the government, it takes an awful lot of energy and resources to move it.  However today, the single greatest commodity is a person, and there is nothing stopping a person from moving anywhere they want in the world.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Let's all win the lottery!

It's been far too long since I've had any time to myself.  I fell way behind on getting several projects I wanted to cover shared and in-depth coverage I said I wanted to bring on here for production stuff.  Needless to say, things happen, I get busy and do work because well.. I have to earn money to pay the bills.

I'm still not earning enough money to pay the bills, but recently I've had some personal success seeing as how I've got a much more steady flow of incoming projects now.  It's October now, and I just wrapped the post production work to rush a master of the short film I've been working on to completion!  This was the final big push to get together a version for the director to submit to several film festivals he wanted to hit on.  This is by far not the end of the road on the journey of post production for the short film.  There is still a little more work ahead in the coming months (not too much).  Marketing is another aspect of post-production that often gets overlooked by indie and experimental level people who are "breaking in" to the business. 

I think that's about all I'm going to share on the subject for now.  Instead, I'm just going to share some preview stills as a little treat before the main course.

I should be getting a bit more free time to post more about some of the stuff I want to discuss.  Do keep an eye out!  First order of business will be discussing 5.1 surround and working to picture completely in Sonar X2 Producer!  This project was quite an experience, and a learning venture...

I learned some workflow management tips and tricks, as well as plenty of ways to ruin a project or bring post-workflow to a halt!  If there's any specific questions along the way, do feel free to post them below or after reading the upcoming articles I'll be going over soon!

Friday, June 28, 2013

The latest and greatest! You know you want it!

Holy hell time flies when you're having fun... Or in my case busier than an ant colony and bee hive combined!  So many things to catch up on.  My 7 months spent on Hoopfighter project came to an end in May as I began work on a short film and a commercial project.  The good news is the commercial is already published!

Trueb Dental
Hoopfighter is currently headed for publishing and that's about all I can say at the moment.  Hopefully it makes some big waves!
Troy's taking care of some projects on his end too,  The New Colorado was one of the recent ones, with a song already posted up.  To get more information on the EP click on the image below the soundcloud players.
The New Colorado E.P.
Lots more upcoming stuff.  Hoping to find some time soon to get the sample libraries and remix projects and original music compositions I've got on my plate finished.  But first, the short film project I'm a part of right now is my first official 5.1 surround mix project. 

I've been recording a podcast group as part of a podcast network since the beginning of this year, and we're now 5 episodes in!  If you love comics, videogames, movies, and banter about which character could kick another character's ass, check out Invasion Of The Podcasters  on Stallion Radio Network and be prepared for some epic imaginary battles!
Invasion of The Podcasters

Sunday, May 12, 2013

We Want It All Right Now!

It's been too long since i've had a chance to finish the Time Travel experiment articles.  It has just been an extremely hectic year already trying to finish Hoopfighters, and now have 2 more shooting projects with different clients coming up next week.  However,  If you're and Adobe software user like me, you might have heard the news.

If anything, it's left me in shock.  I was going to post my outrage the day they announced the news from AdobeMax conference earlier this week but decided to just let the news sink in a little and ponder it.  If you haven't heard the news, open up a new tab in your web browser right now, and google Adobe Kills CS Suite.

There's no shortage of web sources reporting seemingly LIVE from Adobe Max conference.  The bomb has been dropped.  But just what does this mean?  Adobe's own Creative Cloud page on their site was my first stop to learn firsthand just what Creative Cloud is doing that is replacing Creative Suite line.  They mention quite a few new features and integration with a heavy ideology around centricity.  For example:
According to Adobe, with the C.C. is obviously... Cloud based.  Not just in file sharing and storage / backup, but in how the apps themselves behave.  You can access them across multiple devices.

To take the "feature list" even further, they're pushing even more 'freebies' in your pocket for the money you'll be paying, and this claim to be able to make everything easily publishable RIGHT from inside their platform.  Adobe wants you to use Adobe every step of the way.

An obvious selling point is that because you're not paying for a single 1-time fee license, you'll get rolling updates.  Today we are all used to getting free updates on a "version" of the software we have purchased a license for.  What Creative Cloud is offering is as long as you are subscribed you will have the LATEST and greatest new tools.  Additional features can be rolled out by the developers without having to wait to release an entire new version of the program and charge you another bundle for it.  I have my doubts about the claims to "never worry about compatibility" as stated in the above blurb, but at least the possibilities of Creative Cloud could mean decreased turnaround time for bug fixes (potentially).

So just what does moving to a subscription-based, cloud-based application platform mean for us users?  Now, keep in mind... Adobe is BIG.  For a lot of businesses that have to retain Adobe licenses moving to a subscription for maintaining software could mean less headache with authorizations and that "scaling" mentioned in the image above.

After watching the live chat with the guys at IndyMogul discussing some of the features and possible concerns once Creative Cloud rolls out, it definitely got me thinking about the subscription platform in a different light.  However, that being said I'm still more nervous than open-minded about what subscription based applications will spell for the future of Adobe, and for the software industry at large.

The immediate concerns are just how transparent will the Digital Rights Management be?  What will dealing with cloud based application launching from multiple devices and synchronization be like for a small shop or single freelancer?  I know there are a lot of different income levels that "freelancer" can scale acros. I personally am at the very bottom of that scale being as I struggle just to meet the demands of my cost-of-living.  I don't own a tablet, a super techy next-gen multi-tool (i'm on an older android phone that barely handles text and calls efficiently), and my workstation is literally my everything.  I work and play on the same machine.

The next big concern is obviously "am I paying too much for stuff I'm not even using?".  This topic came up a couple of times on the live chat mentioned above.

Excerpt from NoFilmSchool article:

Do I need ongoing Internet access to use my Creative Cloud desktop applications?
No. Your Creative Cloud desktop applications (such as Photoshop and Illustrator) are installed directly on your computer, so you won’t need an ongoing Internet connection to use them on a daily basis.
You will need to be online when you install and license your software. If you have an annual membership, you’ll be asked to connect to the web to validate your software licenses every 30 days. However, you’ll be able to use products for 180 days even if you’re offline.
While this is stated, another concern popped up that was discussed on the IndyMogul livechat and popping up on adobe's own user forums and that's the 1 active device at a time rumor.  Adobe claims their software is not an "always on" platform, unlike some companies (ahem, E.A. games). but if this is true then how will the DRM work to check and validate the same account and app are not being used at multiple locations. This obviously leaves concerns about licensing for multiple "seats", and that can quickly become a very deep topic across the range of Hobbyist, Semi-Pro, to small and even large businesses that have to scale accordingly.

So, with subscriptions comes questions, "when can I leave?", "when can I come back?", and "where are the hidden fees?"  I speak for myself when I say I hate phone service contracts.  2 year agreements with early cancellation fees can kiss my ass.  Unfortunately the mobile phone and data connectivity is so much a part of our daily lives now my only options are: do I join a giant phone company and deal with expensive, consistent service; or do a pay-as-you go plan and be forced to use lesser quality phones with shoddy applications with virtually no support, and bottom tier service?

Adobe is in a prime position to perform the same type of business practices that phone companies are notorious for, and that's probably the biggest concern people have with the move to subscription-based Creative Cloud.  Once C.C. rolls out they have to make one hell of a first impression so people don't feel like they're being "phone billed".  I know I don't like paying the $80+ a month just to have internet access on my phone. Using less than 1% of my monthly minutes and maybe 20% of my data cap leaves me feeling bitter every time I have to shell out for that monthly fee just to keep my service active.

Let's put that into perspective with Creative Cloud.  If I want to enroll in the Creative Cloud to get full access to the entire suite of software (formerly the master collection) that's $50 a month (yes, I rounded up).  Will there be an option to roll month to month? If I'm not using all the software all the time can I just pay $30 the next month?  What if the month after I have no jobs and won't be using any of the adobe software at all? I'd prefer not to have to pay a penalty for suspending the account simply because I don't have the jobs coming in that month to afford the bill.  Perhaps we'll just have to wait and see how Creative Cloud rolls out.

There are many more concerns beyond the subscription platform that come to mind.  Obviously the "cloud" has been around awhile, but that doesn't mean the concerns about data security, hacking, piracy, and identity theft are any less of a concern.  Until now, all of our work is primarily (and in a lot of traditional workplaces still only) done at the workstation and saved locally.  Adobe isn't just offering greater centricity and networking potential through Behance integration, but allowing for an easier way to collaborate with others online through shared access. C.C. users will now be able to display their "works in progress" to be viewable by that public.  Adobe is even making self-publishing tools even easier through the Cloud platform itself.

If you've used dropbox at all and have their little application installed on your computer, you have a basic idea of how the cloud collaboration can be possible.  That is, if Adobe is using that model.  Another model is Gobbler's "watch and search" for particular file and folder types that allow you to selectively backup online and send to other users.  Data security should always be concern #1 when putting stuff online.  Just because we live in an age where it's so commonplace doesn't mean it's inherently safer than it used to be.

Now stretch that issue out beyond Adobe's control at the server end, and realize that every device you enable your account on will be susceptible to someone else accessing it.  For someone like me who only has 1 workstation, that might not be an issue so much. I'd still be worried about accessibility at other ends of the cloud, but beyond that, I guess I could say I feel relatively "safe".  Take this situation to a workplace or office where creative competition could drive someone to log in to someone Else's account, and you can see how obtuse an issue this can become if your workstation, your phone, your laptop, your tablet, or super-rad wrist computer were left unattended.

The move to subscription based licensing brings up the concern for accessing project files when your license is not active, and this could lead to some really enigmatic solutions if Adobe isn't quick to solve this issue.  I for one have the belief that if a project I created or completed with software I had a license for at some point, i should be able to open it up even into the distant future if I desire and play around in it. Whether that's for saving out a template based on the workflow I used in that project, or exporting individual assets that never got bounced (if we're talking about video / audio) and/or rendered out individually that could be recycled or stored in my custom libraries for re-use later should not be the concern of Adobe.  I firmly stand against the idea that a valid solution to this would be an adobe "player" that will let you view project files without being able to edit them, this is NOT a solution.

To round up the cloud based storage for accessing projects, what will this mean for large Premier Pro and After Effects projects?  They've made certain to inform on their website that these applications and video production are also under the C.C. banner, but try and look up how the "collaborative" and "cloud" platform will integrate in to existing workflows and pipelines and you won't find any information, yet.  In general, Creative Cloud offers free 100gb online storage.  For the average freelance graphic or web designer that's plenty, but in the video world that might be 1 project at best.  Even a bottom-level freelancer myself the few small video projects I've worked on have averaged no smaller than 70+ gigabytes of data and the largest was around a terabyte for video alone, as an audio engineer and sound studio just the audio projects alone for some of the video projects I've worked on can soar into the 50+ gigabyte range easily if I'm working on a feature.

I haven't personally spoken with anyone at Adobe, but if experience has taught me anything about how companies operate, they like to protect their information as much as possible. So unless the services are set in stone, I doubt any solid answers from Adobe will be made available until Creative Cloud hits.  I know this is all still very fresh and keep in mind the news came just earlier this week.

I still have yet to sit here and sift through all the resources online, but first chance I get I'll be going through the keynotes.  If you'd like to do so yourself, here's the link below.

Adobe Max Online

Just taking a quick browse through it doesn't look like the answers to any of the deep and technical questions about the specifics of how things will work will be answered in the videos, but I'm sure there's plenty of feature goodness discussed to get you hyped up about this new model.

Just based on the current setup alone, those of us doing stuff at a semi-professional level or even hobbyists, may find it hard to swallow switching to a monthly fee.  As long as Adobe has a clean and smooth process for rolling out contracts so we can easily create a paying account and suspend it at will within reason, things may not be so bad.  After all $50 a month in comparison to the full price of Master Collection, (roughly $2,500) is quite a savings.  It averages out to around $600 a year, and at the rate of "version" releases the last few years at Adobe, that's about on par with how much you'd be spending to stay up to date every time Adobe rolled out a new version of Creative Suite if you were buying a full license each time.

Now, as we all start to sit happy and enjoy all the features they've implemented.  This is about when I get curious of how to manage plugins.  As far as I can tell the licensing is the only thing you're paying for to keep software up to date, it still installs like normal software onto your device and runs like a typical software should.  But, what about synchronizing your licensed plugins for whatever Adobe application you're using across the device range?  Those software developers that want to hop on board could quickly start talks with Adobe for switching their licensing schemes over to have Adobe's platform handle the whole shebang, and then those 3rd party companies can offer a paid subscription plan too.

It takes a lot of foresight to make a platform like this work, and clearly Adobe has done their homework.  But how about the rest of the industry, how are things going to shape in the years to come with a major platform like this running the show?  Obviously Adobe isn't the only solution for video and VFX editing, there are others like Autodesk and Avid. Switching product lines may take some re-training and unlearning habits that may have been formed from the particular workflow of the application we're all used to, but the bigger question is what's to stop them from switching to this very same type of business model?

There's an awful lot of potential to bleed it's consumers / users / customers dry through the subscription models and Adobe's move to the Creative Cloud is only the very beginning.  These are all my own personal opinions and concerns, what do you think about the move to the cloud?  Do you think 3rd party plugin developers will make the switch to the same platform?  Is this going to make your life easier or more complex?

Please share this article and leave comments!  I'd love to know what everyone's experiences are.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Time Travel Experiment (Week 4)

It took me quite a long time to sort through all of 2003's projects and recover all the old and missing files.  2004 I apparently started getting more organized with file structures and keeping projects more tidy.

It was around the time of my birthday in 2003 that while I was in high-school the photography club had a day trip to Yosemite National Park.  In 2004, I had only a few friends I still kept in contact with from high-school and the first of the year we decided to make a trip on our own and I had a field day taking black & white photos.

The beginning of the year I was messing around a ton with Photoshop and continuing more classes.
Photoshop filter experiments was the name of the game and how I acquainted myself with a lot of the tools for photo manipulation.  The sevendust design was done by taking a scan of my hand (literally on the scanner).   Color overlays and filter effects to manipulate the hand layer, and then designing text patterns and layering that over the effected hand layers. 
A similar process is used on the Mer De Noms below. This one actually started from scratch with the render clouds on the first layer. Just playing around with duplicating effected layers and running more filters on those new layers, then messing around with their blend modes until I got something unique and interesting (to me).
By the time I got to Breaking Benjamin I was more focused on actual design and placement, thinking more about positive and negative space and context to the music.

War Craft
More modplug programmed drums from my favorite loops I chopped.  Again with the recording direct out from my Vetta combo cab's speaker outs with the different OHM settings (8 and 16 on each hard-panned guitar).

I was getting really fed up with the sound I was capturing this way and wondered why this amp sounded so good in real life but the speaker outs being my only options at the time for getting a signal out seemed to be really lackluster.  This was often why I opted for the POD 2.0 over the Vetta during my early days of recording as it just plain sounded better going into the computer than the Vetta

Kidneythieves mix on Acidplanet

Veteran Remix

Straight Out of The Mud
For some reason this one just feels a bit bluesy.  My main method of writing was still improvisation and just putting together a beat and playing over it.  These recordings were the first to feature my new EMU 0404 card for getting audio into the computer.  The NJ Supreme as usual, going through the Vetta but this time utilizing the actual direct out's meant for recording and not driving external speakers.

Tripping The Riff
Drum Programming in Modplug Tracker

Just a straight solo improvised piece.  NJ Supreme through the Vetta cab, direct out into the EMU 0404.  The reverb level changes were done live thanks to the expression pedal programming allowing me to use the floorboard pedals for more than just volume and wah.  A pedal was tied to the wet level of a parallel mix path.  The Vetta combo cab (even being the first model) had a lot of flexibility and routing options to make for some awesome patches.

Mafia Song
Not much to say, NJ Supreme as usual.  And... it's the mafia... whatcha' gonna' do?

What The?
Around this time I started working my first job.  Lifeguard at the Manteca Waterslides.  Sadly this turned out to be the last season they would be open as the owners sold the land to real estate (just before the economy crashed).

It was quite a busy year as lots of things had been happening.  Without going too into the personal details I managed to dive deeper into photography with my first ever digital camera a FujiFilm Finepix S7000 thanks to my parents again!

Abstract Behavior

Never Let Me Down (R.hyhtm in E.nergy Mix)
This remix is the last piece I would publish on my Little Red Soldier's iNC. profile at Acidplanet.

I do have to mention one of my favorite moments of my personal life occurred on my birthday  - a present from my friends, was to all go see Rock Expo with bands like local band Captive8, Sloth, Shinedown, Tantric and Static-X.  Pretty cool especially since it was on my birthday.  Aside from my first show experience back at the end of 2003 called the Rock Before Christmas featuring Accident Experiment, Ill Nino, and Sevendust; this would be one of just 3 concerts I have been to in my entire lifetime to date.  Yup, I have only been to three shows.

Friends and I with local band Captive8. (I'm the tall one)
Static-X... the backdrop doesn't lie.
These photos were some of the last I will have ever shot on film.  They turned out pretty nice considering it wasn't even with the same EOS camera I used for my film photography class featured in my previous posts.

The First Reason
Not much to say.  Not much to hear either.  However, my very first time ever even experimenting with reason was... different,  The timeline view was easy enough to get used to, aside from the minor differences between how it and Acid operate on clips and midi.  The above screenshot is taken from Reason 6.5.

Another Sound

Depth of Shadows
A little techno, pop.  I think I was getting on a kick of experimenting on blending and mashing up different genres.

I even have a text file saved with all the tablature I wrote out for the song after I made the riffs.  This one featured a Mexican fender telecaster I didn't use as often as my NJ.
I started taking photos of my gear and my room (cheesy as that sounds).

Fighting In The Street
One of my first midi only experiments, I wanted to practice mixing and hear what virtual instruments could do, and was extremely excited to get such great control over the music material that I could program the sounds any way I wanted and still have the ability to change it later.
Streets of Rage came out in the early 90's and was one of my first Sega Genesis games.  I managed to find a collection of midi files people had ported from the games and so I experimented with what virtual synths I had in my growing arsenal.
The original composer for the game was Yuzo Koshiro and there's all the information about the game and it's soundtrack on this Wiki page.  Definitely makes me nostalgic for the days of the old 16 and 8-bit consoles.
Meanwhile, in Graphic Arts class I was experimenting more with photo and image manipulation.  I had a piece of foil i had folded up and crinkled, and then unfolded and scanned to build this image below.
Life was seemingly moving by at light speed, between school, work, I managed to squeeze in time to mess around with music and my gear and relied more and more on midi and virtual instruments which saved me time compared to surfing through modplug tunes and chopping samples and loops from modplug tracks or having to build them from scratch which was quite a tedious manual process.

Programmed To Destroy

Back to the NJ supreme.More midi programming with soft synth drums.  More practicing mixing, learning about compression and limiting and post production techniques just purely by experimenting.
Fall semesters were beginning again, and I decided to go visit my girlfriend at the time after class.  I got to meet up with my photography teacher who had converted an empty class room into small photography studio with lights, and so we fired a few shots off while I waited.

In between starting my own college classes for the new semester, a girlfriend, and working as a lifeguard I don't know how I kept up with friends, one of my last concerts I would go to ended up being the last date of Projekt Revolution Tour, September 5th 2004, with a few friends and my sister.  I unfortunately didn't get any pictures, but it was pretty cool to see bands like Korn with Snoop Dogg, and Linkin Park live.

By the end of September I was well into my new semester at school, advanced Graphic Arts class for photoshop allowed me to pursue more digital image manipulation.  One of our projects was to go around with a camera and shoot photos to layer together.  Out of all the random pictures I had taken I edited and brushed up a brick texture picture I had taken and then desaturated it, tiled it, and proceeded to make layers and layers of colorizing to try to break up the pattern.
It still feels a bit patterned, but nevertheless I went on to think of graffiti effects I could do, and the hand image was in our project book resource files, I then used some other resources I found online for x-rays and sketches of of human skeletal anatomy and blended them in to create the final image.
My very first attempt at painting was this piece below.  We were told to go find a spot around campus and set up and paint a scene.  Water color on wood.
Delta College Landscape
It wasn't long after the semester started when I was told during the 2nd to last day of the season that there would be no more Manteca Waterslides.  Still the funnest job to date.  So, with my job gone and school still being a full-time thing, I wasn't really in a hurry to find a new job.

In just a month after the closing of the waterslides, my friend and manager had already lined up a job working a few towns over for then retail giant CompUSA.  She offered me an opening to submit my application and be interviewed. Suffice to say it wasn't even a month I went without employment while still juggling a relationship and school full-time. 
TC Helicon Voiceworks (Oddly, I've never recorded my voice)
However with the new job came a higher pay rate.  I found some freedom financially to start pursuing more of my interest in audio gear.
Audio Technica 3035 (I've had this forever)
Received this pair with the purchase of the EMU-0404.

I've actually had this for longer.
Emu-0404 break-out cables are all you see of it here.
A modest home studio setup for 2004.

Unstoppable Force

Calm Before The Storm
Studied some online article about proper midi channeling for drums and ended up making split tracks for every percussive instrument, but since VSTi's didn't have to follow conventional rules that governed the General Midi world (like channel 10 being for drums), I was simply experimenting educate myself, haha!

They used to call me Jesus...
It's late, I'm tired and this article took way too many days to fabricate.  Up next, well.. you know.... next year.  As always I do appreciate any and all feedback,  feel free to comment, share your own experiments and works!