Friday, December 14, 2007

Creativity and Brainstorming

LOCATION:
Los Hermanos, Lindon

IN ATTENDANCE:

Micah Anderson, Michael Kingsley, Jacob Hoehne, Cammon Randle, Thomas Chock, Cole Nielsen, Jason Fredericks, Brandon Davidson, Matt Hoffman

TOPIC:
Creativity and Brainstorming

HOST:
Today - Cammon Randle
Next - Michael Kingsley

CELEBRATE:
Thomas Chock's birthday is later this month.


RECAP:
We're all in creative industries in one way or another. As an Apple Consultant, Mike Kingsley services creative professionals, so we'll count him in the mix. Really, running a small business requires a high level of creativity (business people call it innovation, but it's all the same). How can one tap into creativity and make a living from it? Thomas brought up the question of how to build a system around creativity. Normally, creatives grate at the notion of rigid structure. But at some level, you have to have a routine or a pattern of how you generate the ideas that drive your business.

Matt mentioned the need to step away from the task and letting your mind do the work (a.k.a. render in the background). This is especially important after a rush deadline (are there any that aren't rush?) - to take a breather and recharge your creative juices.

I decided to try it out. We've been pushing hard for a couple deadlines. I stopped at a RedBox and rented Ratatouille and took the afternoon watching it. Honestly, I don't think of taking a break. I don't think of myself as a workaholic (any more than the next small business owner), but I don't take time to slow down enough to be inspired. It was a nice little breather.


Cole Nielsen brought up the difficulty of collecting other people's work for inspiration. Yes, you need to stay abreast of what's being done. But at some point, you have to put the samples down and draw from your own genius. It's been said that artists by nature have to be distanced from society to have the right perspective to see it.

Brian Parrish of ThinkBox graphic design wasn't able to attend the gathering, but he forwarded an article, "Sly as a Fox" that discusses creativity. I'll forward to anyone who's interested.

What do you do to find your best ideas? How do you save your ideas?

Thanks,

::: Jacob :::

Monday, November 19, 2007

"I don't know how to view a rough cut lady"

I got a kick out of this spoof radio spot. I'm sure we've all ran into people like this who can't seem to connect any dots inside their head. We have Bryce Randle to thank for this clip. It's just an audio file, but I found it easier to embed a video than a link to a hosted audio. Anyone know a better way than posting an audio file?

Thanks,

:: Jacob ::

video

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Music for your Media

LOCATION:
Demae Japaneses Restaurant, Provo

IN ATTENDANCE:
Micah Anderson, Garrett Batty, Zach Batty, Michael Kingsley, Michael Eager, Jacob Hoehne, Cammon Randle, Jarom Brand, Skyler Jeppson.

TOPIC:
Music for your Media


CELEBRATE:
We recently moved offices - just down the complex. We're now in 1346 W. State in PG. We've liked having more elbow room and more of a place to bring clients.


RECAP:
I didn't opt for the Sushi - but maybe next time I'll be more adventurous.
I've had a lot of Korean, Thai, and Chinese, but that was my first time eating Japanese food. Good stuff.

Our discussion started out trying to piece together the best way to network workstations. XSan is great if you've got the +20K for the whole shooting match. Our resident Mac guru, Mike Kingsley, said the jury was still out on NAS drives. What we have set up at Issimo is four workstations connected via a gigabit Ethernet switch with our main Capture Scratch set up on an eSata drive. It works great for DV and even DVCPro HD editing, but as Zach and Garrett can attest, it's lacking when it comes to 10 bit Uncompressed footage.

Cammon has had a good experience with screen capture on the Mac with an application called iShowU. The industry standard, Camtasia, is still only PC compatible.

Micah shared his expertise on music for media. As Akira Kurosawa said, the music is half of what you see. You should check out his stock music on his site. He's been patient with me as we pull together our Mormon Myths documentary that I've asked him to score. Anyone find some hard evidence on the performance rights question?

One thing I came away with was a sense that I should consider music earlier in the creation process and perhaps bring a composer on-board earlier (less common with corporate video) or have music in mind as it is being created on paper.

What are your thoughts?

Regards,

: : Jacob : :

Friday, October 26, 2007

Leopard Launch

To upgrade or not to upgrade...

The release of Leopard is minutes away. Not that I'm keeping a countdown, but I went by the Apple site and saw the homepage countdown. Most OS upgrades are mostly fluff in my book, and yet certain features make my life so much easier. A little thing like not having to copy all the files over to a blank DVD or CD - only having to create an alias that references the source files - that one has saved days off my life in the past year.

Is the upgrade worth it to you? Most likely I won't upgrade all of our computers until we buy a new one and then we'll need some feature and so we'll have to make the switch. I figure, let other people be the guinea pigs. I'm sure you're the same way, but I can't afford downtime with some bug. Perhaps that robs me of the joy of being an early adopter. I'll be more adventurous with my hobbies rather than my livelihood.

What are your thoughts?

Jacob

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Future of Media

LOCATION:
Macaroni Grill, Provo

IN ATTENDANCE:
Micah Anderson, Carter Durham, Garrett Batty, Zach Batty, Michael Eager, Jacob Hoehne, Mike Johnson, Cammon Randle, Dave Crenshaw

TOPIC:
Archiving media - new media trends

COMMISERATE:
Cammon mentioned a podcasting conference he spent good money on hoping to learn something, only to discover he had more to teach them.

CELEBRATE:
I'm on week two of my iPhone and I think it's a keeper. The portable media player has been great for showing people what we can do. It has some features I wish it had, but overall, I really like it.

Where is the media industry going from here? Cammon said he's heard of people who think Net content will overtake Network content. While your "average Joe" does have more access to media creation and publishing via the Internet, YouTube style video isn't likely to make the likes of NBC and ABC extinct. Zach shared a quote in regards to that sentiment, that with the advent of the Power Bar no one thought it was the end to meals as we know it. What is more likely to die out, according to Zach, is the Network TV schedule in five years or so. Beyond TiVo, will we have a 2 TB drive connected to a monitor that plays our stuff - ESPN only without having to pay for Bravo - feature films in a digital form, YouTube etc.? The less the media is fixed in a tangible form, the harder it will be to keep it from being ripped off. We stand as both consumers and creators of media and have to keep a foot in both camps.

How do these changes bode for content creators like ourselves? It's interesting to look at the desktop publishing "revolution" in the 90's. Now, anyone could do layout and print without having to go to a typesetter and a designer and all of that. Did that mean the end to graphic designers? Not at all. It lowered the barriers to entry in the industry, and a flood of would-be designers, but the true talent still rose to the top.

It does seem that the trend is only towards more media saturation, for better or for worse. Moving images - be it flash or video (and that line is quickly disappearing) - is becoming the communication medium of choice.

We did touch briefly on media storage and archiving. Right now, we're shooting mainly Panasonic P2, which means there is no built in archive like tape. We've been backing up our 8 GB cards to Dual Layer DVD's, which per gig is actually pricer than hard drives. However, we recently got a 16 GB card which doesn't fit on any DVD we can burn at the moment. We have looked at a LaCie Blu-Ray burner which will do 25 GB on a side and 50 on dual layer (but I'm unaware of any blank media that is dual-layer at the moment). Another strong contender is a LTO-3 drive. It's like a DLT drive of yester-year for DVD replication, but one tape will hold 400 GB. The DLT drives are painfully slow, but the LTO's are actually fast enough to read/write from like a hard drive (65 mbps through put). No clunky SCSI connection either - it mounts via gigabit Ethernet. Sticker shock: $5,00 - 8,000.

What are your thoughts? What other topics did we discuss that you'd like to weigh in on?

Regards,

: : Jacob : :

New CoNNECT blog

Creative Professionals:

Our previous blog was through .Mac, which worked well, but was limited in how we could all contribute. Your feedback is welcome regarding how to make the site a more beneficial extension of our gathering.

The hope is to extend the benefits of our monthly luncheons online as a place to connect and share - from technical questions, news bites, customer complaints, and the like.

Regards,

Jacob

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Business of Art

LOCATION:
Los Hermanos in Lindon

HOST:
Thomas Chock

IN ATTENDANCE:
Donna Vazquez, Zach Batty, Michael Kingsley, Jacob Hoehne, Vaughn Armstrong, Tamilisa Wood, Thomas Chock

TOPIC:
Art of business and the business of art.

The upstairs room was nice and separate from the rest of the restaurant and helped facilitate a good discussion - and good food goes a long way to putting you in a sociable mindset.

How to balance your creative muse and pay the bills? Is “work for hire” - within the confines of what the client wants - still an art? Or maybe a better question, “does it satisfy my need to create and be artistic?” Perhaps it doesn’t need to be. An accountant may like his job, but he doesn’t expect it to fulfill him in every way. Often I think we’re lucky that we get to do something that can fill more of a need than just a paycheck.

Tamilisa introduced another line of discussion - how to play the “game” of business. At what level do you want to play - peon, worker bee, or executive? From the book she’s reading, it sounds like you have to be sponsored into the next level by someone who is comfortable with you and that feels you can successfully handle working at the higher level.

I can definitely see this dynamic in the corporate ladder, but how does it apply to creative professionals, many of whom are the peon, worker bee, and executive all at the same time?

Clients, colleagues, vendors - can play a role in inviting us up to a new level. Because of a relationship with one person, they might introduce you to a whole new caliber of professionals - or business decision-makers to whom you would otherwise have no access.

There is a real art (or game) to business. I’m beginning to see more and more that it centers on people. My faculty advisor at Syracuse was the General Manager of CBS in New York City. He said that companies don’t make decisions - a person does. Even at that level of business, he noted that huge decisions by an international media company were still made based on an individual and his or her own preferences. I know that it may be oversimplified, but I think the core of it is true. To steal a catch-phrase from Corporate Alliance, “people do business with those they know, like, and trust.”

What are your thoughts? How do you strike a balance?

Regards

: : Jacob : :

---------------------------------------------

Vaughn
I mentioned at lunch Richard Florida's writings about how cities' economic success in the future relates to what he calls the rise of "the creative class". Here is a link to some of his speeches and books. Go to: http://www.creativeclass.org/library.php

The articles I remember reading were "Where the Brains Are" and "The University and the Creative Economy".

Very interesting stuff.

PS. It was nice to sit and chat over lunch.
Friday, March 16, 2007 - 05:46 PM

Anonymous
It sounds like a good discussion took place. I wish I could of made it.
Monday, March 19, 2007 - 08:42 AM

Vaughn -
Thanks for the link. It looks like that guy has a lot to say! Pretty interesting stuff. It's amazing where you can get good ideas from - things are so cross-disciplinary.
Monday, March 19, 2007 - 09:54 AM

Thomas
When Jacob and I first talked about this idea of creating a network of media professionals, one of the things we talked about was the desire to create a place where other creative pros can come together to not feel so alone, especially since there seem to be many creatives that are essentially flying solo.

It was with that in mind that I chose this topic, art of business & business of art, because I hoped we could get a good discussion going about how to balance the desire to create one's art or give one's artistic muse a voice against the need to meet a client's wants, pay the bills, and put food on the table.

I thought our discussion was very provocative, as in it provoked me to lots of different thoughts on a few different topics.

The one thing I took away from this discussion that I find I want to consider in my current line of work is the question of value. Zack Batty made a comment at the lunch that I'm still chewing on, which for me tied the whole conversation together nicely. It was basically about the need to accurately identify the value of what you do, and by doing so, one might be able to find the appropriate balance between one's passion which could be art, and one's desire to be rich (rich in terms of money AND relationships AND etc. etc.).

Regardless, it was a bountiful discussion and I hope those present gained some added insight to their own businesses and their own efforts at achieving success.
Monday, March 19, 2007 - 05:56 PM

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Blueprint for your business

LOCATION:
Chilis

HOST:
Michael Eager

IN ATTENDANCE:
Donna Vazquez, Marc Roethel, Zach Batty, Garrett Batty, Michael Kingsley, George Loch, Jacob Hoehne, Michael Eager, Micah Anderson.

TOPIC:
Business Plans

A bullhorn would have been useful today! I was on one end of the table and I could hardly hear two people down from me.

I for one found Mike’s comments very timely and helpful. I think I’m inclined to brush off the importance of goal setting. It can be an arduous process to capture my vision on paper. But, I see that making a business plan is an important step, even for a service-based company.

Zach had a great insight about having an exit strategy with a “talent” based company. For many of us, the business is 100% our own ability. It reminded me of Kiyosaki’s description of taking your company “through the eye of the needle.” This was his term for building the business to the point where it can sustain itself and run successfully without you. It’s then that you have a business you can sell (or move on to build something else).

Mike listed three purposes of a business plan - or rather, three different audiences:
- Funding: Banks, Angel Investors, VC, etc.
- Partnerships
- Owner’s own roadmap

Especially for where most of us are, the third objective is the most relevant.

What were your thoughts? If you didn’t make this meeting, what role does goal setting play in your business? What is your exit strategy?

Regards,

: : Jacob : :


-----------------------------------

Anonymous
I didn't get what the big deal is with a business plan. Can somebody explain it to me?

Thx
Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - 05:31 PM

Anonymous
Why is a business plan a big deal? Pardon the long quote, but I think Lewis Carroll put it perfectly in "Alice in Wonderland".

" 'Would you tell me, please,' Alice asked, 'which way I ought to go from here?'
'That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,' said the Cat.
'I don`'t much care where--' said Alice.
'Then it doesn't matter which way you go,' said the Cat.
'--so long as I get somewhere,' Alice added as an explanation.
'Oh, you're sure to do that,' said the Cat, 'if you only walk long enough.' "

If you don't care where you are going in the long run, a business plan is unimportant. If you truly want to be where you are planning to be, then you need to do just that--plan. A business plan allows you to delineate exactly what you want to do in your business, as well as the steps you are going to take to get there. In this way it becomes not only a list of goals, but a measuring stick by which to check your progress and a road map to keep you on the right track. Two years from now, can you look at your plan and check off some items? When you need to make a decision about whether or not to take a risk or grab an opportunity--does it look like it will move you along the path toward your goals? Or is it a distraction?

In reality, having a written business plan may not make or break a business, but it will certainly divide the mediocre from the great.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - 10:14 PM

Mike K
Don't get me wrong, I'm not big on the whole business plan either. I never really ever set one up and have been doing good. However I can see some of the points he is making. Main point being that it reminds us of our goals. No one can remember all the time the things we want to accomplish. Plus it's kind of something to be accountable to. Otherwise if our business does not grow much this year we could just say to ourself it doesn't matter and be a little more lazy.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - 10:25 PM

Michael Eagar
I agree the venue proved to be rough for communication. Great food, poor privacy.

About the importance of a business plan, I think it depends on what you want your business to be. If you want to stay a small business - one person show (aka one-man-band), I would not waste my time on a business plan. If you are the only one in the business, and you are the only one that wants or needs to know the marketing strategy, the sales strategy, how you plan to get customers, how much you plan to invest in the company, where you want to be in 3 or 5 years, etc. And if you are not looking for financing, I would not spend your valuable time on a business plan.

If you want your business (service or product) to grow with many employees, partners, and may even be interested in growth with funding from others, you are going to have to communicate what you have in your head on paper to show them your vision, strategy, what makes you different from others, etc. The business plan helps them see the opportunity that you see.

For me I start every business like I do other goals. I start with the end in mind of what do I want to get out of this activity. This year I will be competing in my first 1/2 Ironman race. Hence, this is why I work out. I use the same frameset when I start a business. I want my house paid off by the time I am 35 (3 years away). The reason I started my company Utah Labs was to sell it before I am 35 and use the money towards my house and some other projects (Lucky me, I am on track so far!). The business plan for me helps me to outline this and refer to it over and over again seeing if I meet my short term goals, and what needs to change in order to keep me on track with my long term goals.

To sum it up, I think using a business plan is up to you and your business. I think taking the time to create one depends on if your "plans" for your business go beyond you and need to be communicated with others in a way that is laid out in a business plan format. Otherwise, keep selling, communicate your plan verbally, and do what is working in your business. The business plan should be a tool, not a burden.
Thursday, January 11, 2007 - 09:16 AM

Anonymous
perhaps this comes off as a bit "syrupy" for some, but i like to think of business plans, goals, etc., in terms of the FAITH + WORKS formula.

u gotta have a vision of where you want to go (faith part) AND execute with discipline (work) in order to achieve. one without the other is dead.

i'm not saying it has to be a full-on biz plan, like what others have stated, but we run a risk when we do business OR live our lives without an end in mind.
Friday, January 12, 2007 - 10:17 AM