The more things change... the more they change!
From The Creative COW Magazine

Creative COW Magazine presents - The more things change...the more they change!

Tim WilsonTim Wilson
Boston Massachusetts, USA

©2009 Tim Wilson and All rights reserved.

Article Focus:

One project took four years, and included unprecedented interactivity, Java-enabled delivery of new material to network-connected Blu-ray players, and auto updating interfaces. This is not a problem solved by a $1000 software suite.

First, things are becoming cheaper and easier to use, lowering the barriers to entry for everyone. Second, things are becoming more expensive and complicated, making it harder than ever to even know where to begin.

We have a unique perspective on "cheap" here at The COW. When we began 14 years ago, a "low-end" system started at $50-60,000, which is closer to $75- 85,000 when adjusted for inflation. Is that a lot, or a little? Compared to a camcorder and a laptop today, a lot - but that's also around the price of a single high-end deck, or a few seats of high-end Blu-ray authoring software.

For my money (and it was my money), desktop video was not revolutionary until the Sony UVW-1800 Betacam SP deck enabled "cheap" broadcast delivery, at around $10,000. Today, the broadcast-standard delivery formats are Sony HDCAM SR and Panasonic D5 HD - decks priced like luxury cars, with more set-up menus than you might find in all of your software applications put together.

DVD software is ubiquitous, and even Blu-ray authoring can sometimes be quite straightforward and affordable. But only sometimes. Megan McKenna talks in this issue about managing thousands of assets on the 10-disk first volume of the "Neil Young Archives." The project took four years, and included unprecedented interactivity, Java-enabled delivery of new material to networkconnected Blu-ray players, and auto-updating interfaces to accommodate it.

This is not a problem to be solved by a module in a $1000 software suite. Apps that can do this kind of heavy lifting are often sold only with paid support plans. That's a good thing. It is the only way you can realistically use the software, and the only way that developers can afford to give you the help you will need.

It is easy to be swept up by stories about miracle cameras and software. We are big fans of miracles, but they rarely answer the question, "Now what?" They also do not necessarily speak to the fullness of our reality, that serious tasks require serious tools, and that a "breakthrough price" does not always equal "cheap."

Miracles are not enough by themselves, but neither is money. Here at Creative COW, we are also big fans of the creativity (naturally enough) that our members use every day to pull off their increasingly complicated jobs. In this issue, we have asked our authors to be specific with the details of their work, and the names of the products they use to do that work.

As a result, this is our most product-oriented issue yet. Knowing how other magazines handle product coverage, we understand that you might be skeptical, wondering if these stories are aimed at our bottom line, instead of yours. Our commitment to you is that every product that our authors mention in the COW Magazine has been bought or rented with their own money, at market rates. They pay the same price you do. They take the same risks. We are not aware of any other magazine that follows this strict policy, but it is the only way we can assure you that the success of our authors might truly contribute to your own.

In the meantime, we do not believe that things will "get back" to normal some day. You are looking at the new normal, today. The question is, "Now what?" Rather than look away, or try to hold the future at bay, we believe that honestly addressing the accelerating complexity of our lives offers hope. Together, we can welcome these changes, and use them to our advantage.

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