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.
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.