As you may have noticed, our CAT Scan family is growing. Today, we're excited to announce the addition of Rachel Bishop, head of production at the U.K.'s Lean Mean Fighting Machine. We featured Rachel in our 2009 Agency's Producers Report, in which we discovered how she tackled a massive Samsung job, the Adventures of Nick Turpin, which sent the photographer on a 28-day trip from the U.K. to Athens, with an itinerary decided day by day by online voters.
As digitally exciting and demanding as her job may be, for her first post, Bishop considers how the technological advances that can make a digital producer's job more thrilling, may actually have an equally soul-sapping effect to the overall work.
I can't help but think we're swamped by a plethora of platforms, applications, digital effects—that new technology is becoming more of a production hindrance than an advantage. Are we missing a trick by over complicating and over-producing? Should we refer back to the non-digital days when effects and technology weren't so readily available? Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland original film, recently restored by the BFI, demonstrates a certain raw beauty, granted, there were limited resources in 1903 and we probably wouldn't be watching it now on Youtube if technological advances hadn't allowed restoration in the first place ... stay with me...
There were no effects or post-production wizardry, every detail considered and captured in camera, using pure skill to create what is arguably a masterpiece. It pains me to think that in some cases we no longer acknowledge simplicity and we may have lost the subtleties that made these productions. Instead we're faced with a hundred "innovative" ways to spam, steal and stalk a user; their network of friends, families and colleagues. I think we're all guilty at some point of producing something that satisfies our egos and our status within the digital community and not the viewer.
I've spent many a minute procrastinating over the impact new technology is having on the industry and most importantly how the hell to manage cutting-edge projects. I probably should get out more. But not having a previous project to draw comparisons from can add to the ever increasing perplexities of a project, and a producer's sanity.
Similarly the music industry has felt the impact of changes in technology with the increase of digital music and downloads and how it's infiltrating other areas of the industry. As Beau Perreau writes in The Guardian, the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas began as a small-scale music festival to showcase new musical talent, until the introduction of film and digital technological innovation over recent years "the festival has increasingly been covering film and, even more so, what organisers describe as multimedia or 'interactive': different kinds of digital and technological innovation." To the disdain of the hardcore musos rather amusingly.
Some see it as an intrusion and violation of not only the traditional values of the festival, but to the very nature of music production. Jack White of the White Stripes (among others), is highlighting the failings of modern production: "Digital production has changed the way music sounds. Giving producers more accuracy, it has also given rise to the feeling amongst some fans that a lot of the warmth and humanity that makes music so wonderful has been lost." I kind of agree. Digital production has changed the way in which music sounds, the way a film looks and the way in which we engage with the Internet, not always in a positive way. Maybe I'm being narrow-minded and reacting badly to change but it does feel like a little bit of magic is lost at the birth of every new technology.
I suppose it's all about simplicity. Over-producing and over-polishing ideas and subsequently not meeting the needs of the end user. . .do we really consider them anymore when producing new and innovative work? Their needs and expectations are often lost in place of wanting to be the first to adopt.
Growth is predictable. How we manage it—isn't.
Maybe that alone is a good enough reason to work in digital production.