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Hello. My name is Tim. I am a Newbie.

COW Library : Letters to the COW Team : Tim Wilson : Hello. My name is Tim. I am a Newbie.
CreativeCOW presents Hello. My name is Tim. I am a Newbie. --   COWmunications feedback Editorial


CreativeCOW.net
Palm Springs California USA
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Somebody once asked how we can claim that the community forums at Creative COW are a high-level professional resource, when there are obviously newbie questions there. Simple: because high-level professionals who are paying attention never stop learning. Even if they are able to answer other people's difficult questions about some things, they have basic questions of their own about others.

I started thinking about this again when I read Tony Hudson's story in our "Non-linear Creativity" issue. Tony supervised visual effects teams for George Lucas on movies including "Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets," the two "Men in Black" pictures, "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" (for which he designed and operated puppets for the whales that played such a pivotal role), "Magnolia," "A.I." for Steven Spielberg, and dozens more of some of the most pioneering, effects-intensive features of the past 25 years.

Tony came to the COW because he was starting to use Final Cut for the first time. He was also beginning to use Nuke to composite. And he found himself doing jobs like matchmoving that he had previously delegated to other people on his teams. In other words, he was now a newbie.

One of our fastest-growing groups at the COW is broadcast engineers. These are people with years of experience with satellites, switchers, and servers -- but who are now learning tools that were once the domain of IT departments. Transitioning to digital infrastructures, they are exploring new cameras and learning new ways to incorporate metadata. One such COW member is chief of engineering for one of the Big Four US networks, as well as all of their cable properties in business, news, sports and entertainment. He is obviously one of the elite experts in his field, and has been for a very long time. He is also a newbie.

This is a roundabout way of answering another question I've heard. How can the COW possibly be a professional peer-to-peer support network when it has grown from 200,000 monthly visitors to over 2 million monthly visitors in the last four years? Because newbies are being hatched every day -- from among the industry's most experienced, most highly qualified, most creative leaders. No matter how much they know about some things, they also need to know about something new. Something more. Now.

Not all newbies at the COW are world-class experts in something, of course. Plenty of them are new to everything related to this business -- although what we mean when we say "related to this business" now is exponentially larger than what the words "related to this business" meant only a few years ago. It is with good reason that the National Association of Broadcasters is expanding around the concept of "Broader-casting." The world is growing too quickly for even the highest-powered experts to keep up with it all, unless they are willing to keep throwing themselves into situations where they are newbies. The fact is that there's no time to wait for the "standards to settle." (I say "standards" because there's never just one of them anymore, is there?) We are creating TV programming before we know how viewers will see it. We are creating movies for screens that aren't there yet. New equipment, new platforms, new formats, and you're expected to be an expert on them. Now. Staying inside your comfort zone is a recipe for disaster.

This is why we have such a simple answer to students who ask what they need to learn in order to succeed in this remarkable business, one that is both driving and being driven by such rapid advances in art and science. You only need to learn one thing: how to keep learning. For everything that you become an expert in, become a newbie in something else. Learn to keep becoming a newbie, or learn how to keep becoming unemployed.

###

Comments

Re: Hello. My name is Tim. I am a Newbie.
by Pat Hughes
I just posted a comment hear and then I noticed that the most recent comment for this thread is 5 years ago. Also, the oldest comment was 5 years ago. I posted on another thread and it was similar in how long it has been since anyone has posted. Why is this? Are all forums like this or just the most high technical threads are recent.
BTW if anyone answers one of my posts do I get a message in my email that someone replied to my post or do I have to find the thread I posted on to see any replies? Thanks
Re: Hello. My name is Tim. I am a Newbie.
by Pat Hughes
Being a real newbie with a dream I am so impressed with Tim's article and answers. I found your website today and just joined. I looked for a forum for newbie's in the subjects like what camera to buy, pros & cons of cameras, software, starting a business in video, etc. But I couldn't find anything. I did searches and this thread.
I want to video tape elderly people and terminally ill people giving their memoirs and preserving them for their ancestors. I am thinking of doing it on a sliding scale type of payments where if someone doesn't have much money it would cost a lot less than someone that has a lot of money. I only have a Sony camcorder and a desktop pc, Surface Pro3, Mac, MacBook Pro, iPad and iPhone for equipment. I am sorry that some newbies have an attitude and that is wrong. I don't know if they started their question with an attitude or if it was the result of somebody's negative attitude in a reply. I love helping people and I help people in other areas than in areas this website is about. We all need help at one time or another and we all continue to need help in something. And maybe it was a newbie in video that helped you in another area in your life.
TIm, I love your messages. You might be very smart in video but you are very wise in life. I'd love to hear you give speeches in life lessons or something like that. I think this world would be a lot better off if we all try to be kinder, more patient and more giving than taking attitude.
I'm sorry if I haven't communicated properly here and I hope I'm understood. And I hope someone could help me find whatever manual people are talking about. Being a super newbie I don't have any manuals. I have searched for classes on video taping and editing but haven't been able to find any in my area. I searched the community college close to me and other learning establishments. I find classes for photography but not video. I'd rather start out with hands on learning in a classroom and I am searching the internet for learning video. Thanks for listening and sorry this is so long.
Re: Hello. My name is Tim. I am a Newbie.
by Michael Locke
As our patron saint Sanford Meisner said, "Are you going to indulge your conceit, or celebrate your growth?" In anything you do, it's the standards you set for yourself that will let you go anywhere you have to. Because you have to. Go newbies.
Re: Hello. My name is Tim. I am a Newbie.
by Rob Fabiano
As a newbie to the site I am impressed by the large volume of information found here but I'm also completely overwhelmed. I know this site has been around for a long time now and would think that a grouping of "FAQs" for each topic would be a tremendous asset to the community, "A" For newbs to find answers to common questions faster and "B" to cut down on the number of times long time users see the same questions posted over and over. If at the top of each forum there was a grouping of faqs I'd look there first, then search for the answer and if that didn't bare fruit I would post a question. Just a humble newbs opinion.
Ahah
by Rob Fabiano
Hey I found the "FAQ" in other forums... the forum that brought me to Creative Cow was for Final Cut Server. Didn't take long to notice the FAQ found in other forums... guess FCS hasn't been around long enough to warrent a "FAQ". Woops
Re: Hello. My name is Tim. I am a Newbie.
by Donna Valenti
great article. very inspiring... always want to and NEED to learn more, and MORE after that -- to keep working in a freelance world... i especially appreciated the section on "newbies" and how our posts are treated... it was something i encountered early on - I did not appreciate the response i received to a question, and let him know no one was forcing him to answer my question, no less be condescending at the same time! that is why i am really glad the topic is being discussed... i think creative cow is an important site, it's great to have such a resource available whenever you (i) need it.. no one should be afraid to post... we all have to start somewhere! thanks cc!

~DV
Re: Hello. My name is Tim. I am a Newbie.
by Andrew Reinstein
Tim....excellent !! IMHO this "manifesto" should be included in every forums
'terms of service'

Just after reading your great piece, I saw a tv show which really underlined your opinion.
Ok, most of us believed in Santa Claus at one time, and thought he was real, just like a lot of us who watch the tv show '24' and for one hour believe that the goddess of geeks, "Chloe O'Brian" is real.
Well, last night I watched episode 1 of season 8, and time has passed since the end of season 7. Chloe is now working at a new government IT center, and to my "utter amazement" needs "help" from another woman, in doing her computer "magic" !!
This is Chloe !!!! How can she not know ???
She took some time off and now she needs help. Thus, she became a 'newbie' OMG !
My daughter goes to a university business school, where most of the professors only teach one class, as they are owners of their own companies, and thus have 'real time' knowledge of whats going on in our rapidly changing world. The professors who she has found to be the most helpful, are those who do not use the textbook, as they believe the book is one or two years old, thus out of touch, out of date.
Manuals too, can be either out of date, or poorly written, and when the program or the product it supports, is used in tandem with another new program or product, it can sometimes be of little value.

I respect and thank all those who have taken the time to respond to my newbie questions.
I also agree that those who use these forums, should be appreciative, and not be rude, or feel entitled.....hey....this is free help... a favor some 'stranger' is doing for you.
Thank you Tim,
my name is Andy, and I'm a newbie, and as things change faster and faster,I will always be a newbie.
Re: Hello. My name is Tim. I am a Newbie.
by John Fishback
Excellent article, Tim. When I first started with FCP, I'd been editing for 15 years. Yet, I knew nothing about FCP. I inhabited the Cow for at least 2 months before I started acquiring the hardware I needed. Every week since, I learn something new. It's exciting, sometimes daunting, but in today's increasingly complex technical environment, you can't stay in business if you don't grow with the times. Constantly learning is a way to keep up.

John

MacPro 8-core 2.8GHz 8 GB RAM OS 10.5.8 QT7.6.4 Kona 3 Dual Cinema 23 ATI Radeon HD 3870, 24" TV-Logic Monitor, ATTO ExpressSAS R380 RAID Adapter, PDE enclosure with 8-drive 6TB RAID 5
FCS 3 (FCP 7.0.2, Motion 4.0.2, Comp 3.5.2, DVDSP 4.2.2, Color 1.5.2)

Pro Tools HD w SYNC IO & 192 Digital I/O, Yamaha DM1000, Millennia Media HV-3C, Neumann U87, Schoeps Mk41 mics, Genelec Monitors, PrimaLT ISDN
Re: Hello. My name is Tim. I am a Newbie.
by Rafael Amador
Nothing to object to newbies (I'm one of them).
The only problem is the people that expect you to read the manual for them.
rafael

http://www.nagavideo.com
@Rafael Amador
by Ron Lindeboom
Hi Rafael,

Personally, when someone expects me to "read the manual for them," I let those kinds of questions just sit on the board without answering them. If everyone did that, they'd get the idea and (most) people would stop asking them.

The best treatment for the "chronicly lazy" is don't feed them, they'll have to get off their buns sometime.
Re: Hello. My name is Tim. I am a Newbie.
by Chris Blair
Great article. I often get a little angry with other Cow members when they're particularly hard on someone who posts an obvious "newbie" question. Why? Because 4 years ago when I first came to the Cow with some questions of my own, I was chided and rebuked for "not knowing" this or that about the subjects discussed in that particular forum. Never mind I had 22 years experience in the industry and 10 as a facility owner. And...I had spent hours of time in advance searching for whatever I could find about the subject. Trouble was, there was little available online or otherwise about it.

Even now, after 26 years working professionally, and 5 years spent studying broadcasting in college, I STILL often feel like I know very little about a lot of things in our industry. When that happens, I usually spend hours and hours learning all I can about that particular subject. I too often see others in our industry sit on their hands, either fearful of new technology and processes, or too complacent to take the time to learn about them.

Learning new stuff is what keeps me motivated and it's what keeps things interesting for me, and treating other "newbies" with respect in the process can help them learn and be better as well.

Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com
Read our blog http://www.videomi.com/blog
Re: Hello. My name is Tim. I am a Newbie.
by Alan Lloyd
Every one of us has had to see everything in life for the first time once, and still will as the new things are added.
Re: Hello. My name is Tim. I am a Newbie.
by Mark Raudonis
[Chris Blair] "Learning new stuff is what keeps me motivated and it's what keeps things interesting for me, and treating other "newbies" with respect in the process can help them learn and be better as well."

Chris, I agree with you mostly and I appreciate the spirit behind Tim's article. I hope I wasn't the one that "rebuked" you. :) However, there's a BIG difference between the desire to learn and just wanting a "shortcut" to make it through the day. I will help anyone who expresses a genuine passion for learning, and I'll do it for FREE! I won't respond to a "newbie" who's comes to the table with an attitude of "entitlement", and an expectation that the cow should be their free tech support. When these people are told that they may want to RTFM, they're the first to strike back with "you're rude".

I've been participating on the COW for years. Some days I'm impressed by the level of discussion. Other days, I can't believe how clueless some "professionals" are. Usually their questions sound something like this: "I'm cutting a feature next week. We shot on every brand, format, version of camera made in the last five years. How do I make that all work in a timeline?" I can spend hours discussing this topic, but they don't want to hear it. They just want a "Plug in" that'll make it work.

Well, there is no "plug in" for lack of knowledge. That only comes with experience, and an investment in learning. I'm happy to help anyone with that learning process, but I WON'T respond to a newbie
that expects to be "served" rather than "taught".

Mark

Re: Hello. My name is Tim. I am a Newbie.
by Tom Meegan
Great article, Tim. Right on.

I've found that many of the newbie questions that occur to me have already been asked. Search has been my friend when I am stumped, and has probably prevented me from aggravating many of the generous folks in these forums.


Best,

Tom Meegan
Woven Pixels, LLC
Re: Hello. My name is Tim. I am a Newbie.
by Tim Wilson
re: newbies and forums, the most important principle that I wish I could impart is to the old-bies:

If you don't think a question is worth asking, don't answer it. If your time is too precious to be consumed by the question, don't let your time, or your soul, be consumed by NOT answering.

I'm using "you" rhetorically, not about any of "you." I'm just being reminded of a few things I've been thinking about, and can share them on a sunny spring Sunday morning....

Have you ever noticed how the RTM-ers are so fast to answer on so many threads? Such anger! It's also, often, simply wrong. It assumes that manuals are good enough. It assumes that somebody has enough training to even speak the same language the manual does. It assumes that they have access to the manual at all. It assumes that their boss is giving them room to breathe. Posting a question, then getting back to work on what they DO understand, is for people in trouble the absolute pinnacle of multitasking. It may be the best they can do.

In addition to a generally corrosive effect on one's soul...and being often WRONG...RTM-ing actively stifles the forum's most important kind of growth: allowing people who ask questions to graduate to answering questions. If you see a newbie question that you don't want to answer, let a newbie answer it.

That was how I got started. I answered questions that I knew the answers to -- the easy questions. And certainly one point of my essay is that what looks like an easy question to YOU is hard enough, or urgent enough, for somebody else that they're willing to be preserved forever in Google, with their real name, asking that question.

So if I could change anything about the COW, it would be to have not one more RTM response, ever, for any reason. EVER. Let somebody else find their way to the podium before you burn it down.

Hey, and even if the newbie is a dick with an attitude - people like me...ooops, I mean...people like THEM...need answers too. If you don't want to do it, let somebody else.


Again, not aimed at anyone in particular...I'm just saying.


I also really appreciate the kind words about the piece. Of all the things I've written for the magazine, that's the most personal....
Re: Hello. My name is Tim. I am a Newbie.
by Mark Raudonis
Tim,

I know you're heart's in the right place on this, but you're not acknowledging that too many of these newbie questions can push the signal to noise ratio on a forum into unproductive levels. Isn't that why the cow instigated a "move this question" policy? I'd be curious to hear what percentage of questions ever get moved. My guess is not many.

Let me be clear. I skip over what I don't want to waste my time on, leaving the responses for those with greater patience than I. However, IF after a healthy back and forth between a poster and numerous contributors, that poster STILL has an attitude, I'm not shy about
telling them to RTFM. "Never, ever for any reason..." Sorry. No can do.

mark



-1
Re: Hello. My name is Tim. I am a Newbie.
by Mark Suszko
I consider newbie questions to be part of the karmic currency of the COW. Contrary to what you might think, I'm not sitting here like Arnold Horshack going "ooh, ooh, me! Me! Pick ME, Mister Kotter!" when somebody asks a question. Seems like it sometimes, I know:-)

But actually I wait and see if somebody else has answered first, and better, and then I answer IF I really think I know something and IF I see the question has gone unanswered for a time. I don't like to see anybody's question left hanging here very long. Even a bad question.

Because I do consider myself still having much to learn, I try to answer fast and detailed because when I have a question/problem, I NEED the answers FAST too. And the great thing about the COW is just how often I get a good answer to a problem in such a short time. I can't tell you how many times it has saved my butt and made me a hero at the office, as well as helped others at the office who come to me as their speaker to the "oracle", i.e. you guys.

The other thing about newbie questions is, they sometimes open up interesting new discussions because it is good to occasionally challenge just why a thing is so. When we are training new interns, sometimes they question methods and a time or two I have had to sit back and say: "... well... you're right, actually, because xyz has changed, maybe there is a better way to do this task now."

It keeps us codgers from ossifying, and there's also the old saying that part of really mastering any subject is trying to effectively teach it to another person. So for all those reasons, and the fact that I just get a buzz from feeling useful and helpful, I generally don't mind newbie questions. For the same reason it feels good to be able to give good directions to a stranger in your town. Would you tell a lost foreign tourist in your town to RTFMap? Or would you tell them not only where they need to go, but where the great little restaurant is on the way there?

One thing I would say I don't like is when people plop out a casual answer that doesn't recognize and directly respond to the limitations of the questioner. For example, answering a question about doing something in FCP by just saying "get an Avid" is kind of being a jerk. It's unresponsive and snarky. The guy has what he has; if he had the time and money to go do something like that, he would have already, so tell him what he can do to solve the problem with the tools at hand first, THEN make suggestions outside of his sphere or resources about other tools he might seek to add, if there's some convincing argument for that. Not everyone has the same local resource base to draw upon.



Re: Hello. My name is Tim. I am a Newbie.
by Tim Wilson
[Mark Suszko] "there's also the old saying that part of really mastering any subject is trying to effectively teach it to another person."

Back in '96 or so, in one of my first (of many) really long posts, I was really enjoying how it was going...and then I hit a wall. I realized that I needed to check the manual to finish the post!

Ron told me that I'd written the first part of a really good tutorial, so I should take some screen grabs and finish the thing. Man o man, I spent a BUNCH of time in the manual after that!

Yet none of what was in my tutorial was actually in the manual. That is, you could have read the manual cover to cover, and not found the answers I provided - not because I'm a genius....although I am...hahahhaha....but because manuals are reference documents, not training tools.

It would be like trying to learn to drive from reading the owner's manual. Until you know a bit about cars, you'll get better answers, more quickly, from asking a real person.

Well whaddya know!


[Mark Suszko]....it feels good to be able to give good directions to a stranger in your town. Would you tell a lost foreign tourist in your town to RTFMap? Or would you tell them not only where they need to go, but where the great little restaurant is on the way there?"

Exactly.



Re: Hello. My name is Tim. I am a Newbie.
by Dave LaRonde
My take on the issue is this: there are newbies and there are newbies.

One group of newbies is is people who suddenly has to acquire one or more crucial new skills. Such people KNOW they don't know the subject matter, and they also know they have to seek guidance, suck it up and get cracking. When they ask for help, they aren't bashful about admitting their ignorance, and they aren't frightened of a steep learning curve. More knowledgeable people tend to bend over backwards for them.

Then there's another group of newbies: the ones who say to themselves, "I've got a laptop loaded with cool software and I've got an HDV camera -- I've got the world! How tough can it be to get the hang of this stuff, anyway? Why, I bet there are people who'd better answer all my questions and tutorials and plugins that'll let me start making the next Avatar right now!"

It seems that the key difference between the two comes down to one thing.

Experience.

Those who have it know how difficult it is to acquire. Those who lack it have no patience to gain it. The two perspectives make a world of difference in attitude.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA
Re: Hello. My name is Tim. I am a Newbie.
by Gary Hazen
[Mark Raudonis] "However, there's a BIG difference between the desire to learn and just wanting a "shortcut" to make it through the day. I will help anyone who expresses a genuine passion for learning, and I'll do it for FREE! I won't respond to a "newbie" who's comes to the table with an attitude of "entitlement", and an expectation that the cow should be their free tech support."
A+

Oftentimes there is no effort towards attempting to solve the problem on their own. That makes a huge difference to me. If someone posts and says, "I've tried X, Y and Z and I still can't figure it out". If I can solve their problem I'll gladly point them in the right direction. I try to work through my own challenges myself until I hit a wall. At that point I'll ask for guidance here. I expect some sort of effort from others in attempting to work through own their problems. If it's clear that they haven't even tried I'm less inclined to help.

Re: Hello. My name is Tim. I am a Newbie.
by Chris Blair
There's nothing wrong with choosing to not help someone when it's felt the poster hasn't done work to try to solve their problem.

But as Timn said, there is something wrong with telling them to "get an AVID" if they're problem is with Final Cut, or telling them to "read the manual" when they may not have access to the equipment while reading it, or telling them that what they're asking is "child's play," or telling them they "have no hope if they can't figure that out," which are a couple of responses I've seen from time to time.

An answer that's "child's play" to one person can be completely confusing to someone else...experienced or not. Everyone is wired differently and something that comes easily or seems obvious to one person is often neither to someone else.

I know people that have vast industry experience, but who have never before posted or participated on a forum. They're literally clueless about how a forum works. They don't understand the "stickies" or whatever they're called at the top of forum categories, they don't know to provide detailed information about their situation, setup etc. And if they're hammered for that on their very first post, I imagine a lot of them say, "well this is a contentious place," and move on to a site that's more forgiving and cordial.

So that person's wealth of experience is gone, because others assumed they hadn't done all the things they should've done prior to posting, when perhaps they didn't know any better.

And I've seen all the reponses from people saying, "anybody knows you should do the research first and provide detailed information!" As hard as it is to believe, everyone doesn't know that. If they're politely told that, most of them will either tell you they have done it, or will take the advice and do it. Some won't...but if they won't, just don't answer their question. What's the value in berating them other than to give the site and various forums a bad name?

Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com
Read our blog http://www.videomi.com/blog
Re: Hello. My name is Tim. I am a Newbie.
by Mike Cohen
Having been a newbie every few months since I started my career, I just want to shout out a big thanks to those who have answered my own questions fairly and helpfully. Back in the early 2000's, as I was figuring out the Media 100, the Media 100 forum helped me do my job better. I had stumped the actual Media 100 paid tech support people, and the COW had the answers.

I think another type of poster we have some disdain for is the "not-the-answer-I-was-looking-for-bie." We have all seen the person who asks a question, and then argues with the responses. Don't ask a question if you don't like getting different opinions.

I find newbies fall into a few categories:

1. Desperation - deadline is tomorrow, in over their head, need an answer. The COW forums are the A-Team for these folks.

2. Someone asks too simple a question, like "I have Premiere - how do I make a feature film?" This is part newbie, part inexperience. But the person is looking for some guidance, so we should be happy to help, and happy that there is another user of our favorite software out there.

3. Inexperienced, just trying to figure out something simple, likely because the manual is vague and since it is a rather simple function, there are not a lot of google results about it. Again, it takes a minute or so to write a polite helpful response.

A newbie can also relate to a particular application of one's craft. Last year when the COW published the expanded edition of my article about surgical video, there were many many responses. Some were asking for advice on starting a similar business or opinions and tricks others have learned. Once response was asking about the particular tripod and boom we used in one of the pictures. No secrets there - it is our experience and skills that clients like.

Recently I got a call from someone in the Boston area who was making a video that ultimately would end up on my desk. We got to talking about the craft of doing medical video, and he sent me some pictures of his setup. I mentioned that his setup looked a lot like my setup. He replied that he based his setup upon the pictures from my article on the COW, and he was thankful for the information that helped him do his job better.

And I am happy to have helped.

Mike Cohen
Re: Hello. My name is Tim. I am a Newbie.
by grinner hester
woooord up, my brutha!



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12 Things I Know About Business at 55 That I Wish I'd Known at 25

12 Things I Know About Business at 55 That I Wish I'd Known at 25

12 Things I Know About Business at 55 That I Wish Id Known at 25 appeared in Creative COW Magazine and was one of our most popular articles. It is a true timeless classic in which COW leader, contributing editor, and Senior Business Adviser to Creative COW, Nick Griffin shares wisdom he's learned the hard way in over 30 years in business. His experience will help you to avoid mistakes, manage clients, and prepare yourself to achieve your greatest success.

Editorial, Feature, Business
Nick Griffin
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