Posts Tagged ‘Pre-media’

Premedia & Consumer White Goods?

January 12, 2010

Almost every week  we hear or see something that we think is absolutely pointless – and then there’s some stuff that will revolutionise the way we use devices! So today I was challenged to ‘blog’ about two such devices and how they fit into our pre-media landscape.

Firstly let’s look at what I was directed to….. Yes you got it, a Microwave and a Washing Machine with a 7 inch touchscreen Android embedded system!!!

Seems pretty pointless right?

Well if your client is one of these manufacturers then definitely not, since you probably hold all of the company’s digital assets and brand material and therefore you are in a prime position to offer some sort of content management services and facilities for these devices. There is a whole supply chain process that would be involved in getting content fit for purpose on these new touch devices and sure, they may not hit mainstream consumer purchasing while the technology prices are still high for this type of implementation, but really when you think about it, is it no cheaper for manufacturers to reduce costs by providing less choice – i.e. not have to have so many parts to maintain?

Whilst pre-media companies need to diversify, are they really able to make a leap into consumer device application development? Or is it a step too far? We already see the big boys in the industry providing iPhone apps for their suites of applications to help their clients feel more in-touch with workflow. So they have huge technology & development departments dedicated to application development and who’s to say they won’t be able to transition their already gathered user interaction experience into the mainstream consumer device application market?

I don’t know about you, but I have a nice shiny new touch screen Samsung phone, the downside is the frustration of my fat fingers trying to get to the letters of applications I need instead of constantly selecting the option next to the one I want – so is touch just a storm in a tea cup? or will it be the next revolution of consumer products?

I won’t go into why you would ever want wireless networking, browsing, etc. on your washing machine because I always thought that the fridge that kept track for the contents and add depleted stocks to your shopping list was a great idea, but in practise would it really work? What about the fridge/freezer with an LCD TV embedded in the door? Well great, so you design your new kitchen around the fridge being in the optimal viewing position while you cook dinner!

The future is all touchy feely

With Apple supposedly releasing a tablet style touch screen device in the coming months it is clear that they would have done their research enough to know that the time is right for that style of device (let’s hope that they are not banking on the success for the iTouch/iPhone as a benchmark for people to spend 3 to 4 times as much on a tablet device!). We have also seen a number of conceptual designs for paper style digital magazines/newspapers – again odd since the Kindle/Irex/Sony ebook readers hardly made mass market! There are plenty of new opportunities for pre-media companies to get a handle on where their future profits come from and try and cash in on the new pre-media output channels that are constantly appearing.  All application, user interface and user help systems require assets, supply chains, workflows and content management so have you thought about what your customers are working on in their roadmap to ensure you are considering it in your strategic plans as well?

Author: Gary George

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The Future of Premedia – Part 1 – The Stage

September 2, 2009

It’s been more than a week since my last blog and this one comes in collaboration with Peter van Teeseling as he has some ideas on this subject, together we have a shared vision of what the future premedia service offerings will be.

To start a series of blogs covering each subject in more detail I will first set the stage, some food for thought if you like.

The Future

As we all have probably read, RR Donnelly’s likes to break news about the new technologies they introduce into their portfolio of products they offer to their clients, the majority of companies out there don’t have the buying power or engineering resource to develop at that scale…. or do they….

There is so much news and opinion today about how small business are now able to utilise technology and react to change a far faster pace than these large organisations. This is possible due to the empowering technologies, the outsourcing of resource to third world countries and the power of open source communities that are refining the technologies beyond what any corporation is able to do.

So what’s changing and what will redefine the future of premedia?

We have seen the explosion of web based media content delivery to our desktops or should I say our browsers. Networks have taken 10 fold leaps speed while the content we are creating seems to grow with every new version of our creative applications, while our connections from the outside world into these services or these platforms are now available via hot-spots almost everywhere in the western civilized world. Storage is no longer a limitation to what we can store and our machines, our infrastructures and our experience is better than it has ever been.

There are disruptive technologies in play that will change the face of premedia and remove all the constraints that force people to install specific applications, in fact they will completely change the way corporations sell software. SAAS is nothing new to many IT people, but in the world where desktop applications dominated the sales channels there is a move to make them server based.

We have seen a raise in the power of technologies like Flash, Ajax, Flex etc. that have provided new ways to interact with content online. Take Adobe’s first stab at this when they introduced Acrobat.com – strangely named since creating PDF’s was only a fraction of what they offered on the site – today, after a lot of refinement, they offer a pretty damn good collaboration and meeting platform with Adobe Connect and are adding more services such as Buzzword, Presentation, Sharing and Storage in the form of Myfiles. Seems like similar services to Google to me…. .but actually this then provides Adobe a playground to see how users would react and interact with the interfaces while they are building their next service platform Photoshop.com. Bruce Chizen stated sometime ago that Adobe will transfer all application to a web-based platform – so where will that put us in the services we are able to offer our clients?

Photoshop.com is in its infancy, yet it is placing the basic tools of Photoshop Elements to the masses for free, it displays that with programming and the new tools it is possible to access advanced features for photo editing that were once only available via a desktop application, making the web browser a new platform or application interface that removes the constraints of installation. Looking at what more can be done, Adobe could use Air to provide a mixture of local and online services providing the speed and flexibility of any environment – same platform, just a different flavour. As Photoshop.com matures and newer features are added, more premedia companies will see the technology as embeddable into their DAM portals to redefine their operational ability, this could lead to new was to outsource or place the power of the user anywhere they can access the web.

Adobe even provide you an extremely powerful tool to build these new user interfaces without the need for complex programming with the addition of Flash Cataylst allowing new professional interaction design for rapidly creating user interfaces.

Looking at the page layout ability, the applications have really reached their limits of functionality on the desktop. Yes new features will be added, but most of these will be refinements on old features that took too much time to do and both Quark & Indesign are now offering extensive server based solutions that use the same engines that drive the desktop applications. What does this do for companies? Well, it is limited only by your imagination of the web application; so far we have only seen web2print applications or print on demand systems built for commercial sales, companies out there will have integrated this into their service offering somehow, you can rest assured that large companies have these technologies tucked under their bonnets. Is there any limitation? No, and actually the barriers of entry will be lowered the more people use and integrate the functionality. Yet there is a threat, as the raising of outsourcing operations increases their awareness of western operational need, they too will build services based on technologies that we are still building our business cases for.

There are plenty of excellent examples of great user operability sites out there. Imagine translating these into your customer portal and delivering services based on artwork asset management!

Look out for the next part of this series where we will explore the new world of online digital image manipulation and how that will affect the services offered.

Author: Gary George

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FTP just doesn’t cut it today

August 18, 2009

1971 – A time before some of us were even born (well me anyway!) in April of this year the first FTP standard RFC 114 was published, over the coming months revisions were publish in RFC 192 and RFC 265 then later RFC 354, many more RFC’s would be published over the year following that initial publication and it wasn’t until June 1980 that the modern FTP was published, naturally there were more RFC’s following that to bring us to what is available today.

38 years on from that original publication of the standard and some companies that are moving large quantities of data between servers are still using FTP as the protocol of choice… are they crazy? Let’s face it FTP is cheap, it has to be since it has been around for so long, way before desktop computers had even entered our imagination, but having a cheap service doesn’t necessarily mean that the solution is cheap for the business.

Transfer securityFTP as we know it has many flaws when we look at it in pre-media, for me the main flaw was always organization, followed closely by file support, looking at just these two items in a little more detail we can see that when you log onto a standard FTP account (not even in pre-media, but try any public FTP) you will see no more than a file system, therefore the taxonomy of the storage needs to be organized extremely well for you to find what you are looking for, but wait we have another problem, to include any type of information about the files you will need to store them in folder upon folder due to the limitation of file name length…. Big down point.

Then if that wasn’t bad enough, if you are in pre-media and exchanging Apple Mac files, you need to compress them all first, yes even today still with OSX certain file types must be compressed to retain their resource forks, not so much the case when you are using OpenType fonts, but let’s face it, how many companies have forked out the cash to upgrade their font libraries to OpenType, and how do you control what’s coming in from others…. you can’t! Oh I hear you say, you under the font licenses you shouldn’t be sending fonts….! Yes we know, show me one company that actually adheres to the out dated font licensing laws, and show me one way that the industry bodies can monitor and enforce those laws! I thought not, so that practise will carry on forever!

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Moore’s Law – the effect on pre-media

August 17, 2009

AccuracyWell, there’s been a lot of news around just recently on the subject of Moore’s Law as people begin to believe that the theory wasn’t 100% accurate (come on, what theory has ever have been 100%!!) It did after all only theorize one dimension of the over all equation of computing!

Looking back again to how this all affects pre-media you have to wonder how much of the conceptualization of the theory can ever play true in our production environments. These production environments are like well oiled machines, engines of our human age that rely on the team work of different experts to increase the horse power of the departments. While Moore might have been able to predict the growth of computing power, the social impact of everyday life could not have ever been calculated, just like how no one could have predicted the enormous growth of the internet’s social media market, yet these social interactions and the ability to collaborate across borders provides new drive for our pre-media future.

The pre-media departments require carefully selected components to increase their productivity, these involve the company to have a clear and concise strategy for growth with the ability to communicate it through the ranks, an IT department that understands the requirements of the operation and how their technology priorities are set. All too often we see IT go for the cheaper option because of a group deal rather than a solution that meets the requirements. Next we have the management, the key to keeping these pre-media departments running, these guys are like the oil, Poor Managersbad oil cloggs up the system, chokes the very ability to make the good components work well, the department would run like Homer Simpson in a marathon. These guys are also the ones responsible for the moral of the staff, yes staff are still a requirement today, and probably the biggest and ultimately the most important part, bad staff = bad work, bad managers + bad staff = disaster!

Fast CarThese components of pre-media all have their place of importance and need to be correctly executed and managed whilst considering the hardware they need. I showed in the last post how the effect of Moore’s Law played a part in the productivity of a pre-media department, but increasing your companies hardware performance doesn’t not equal faster throughput without addressing the pre-media operation as a whole, just like having the fastest formula one car doesn’t automatically qualify you as the winner of the race.

IndiaWhen you come down to the productivity and efficiency level of the department ensuring that you invest wisely is paramount to the long term success of the business, often we see companies invest heavily in the lastest software only to expect the users to teach themselves how to use it, or install a new DAM system only to run it as an IT project. It is clear that Moore’s Law helped understand the growth of the computing industry before it reached it’s full potential, but can the modern day pre-media companies experdite the new technologies in a  fashion that satisfies their clients expectations, or will they continue to drive the cost of the operations out to the cheapest bidder in a third world country where labour costs wins over the latest technology.

Author: Gary George

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Are today’s captain’s of industry yesterday news?

July 29, 2009

It’s no surprise that the old adage of don’t fix what isn’t broken has been completely disrupted by all of the modern technology and the fast moving pace to off load everything your company once did to someone else….

Our industry is lead by what we herald as ‘Captains of Industry’ people who have been around the block more than a few times and have plenty of business acumen, but the question have these captains past their sell by date with their ability to adapt to the changing business environments. Much like the current UK government, have they lost touch with what their customers really want?

These captains of the industry are often the expensive employees of the enterprise companies they gennerally have a lifespan beween 24 to 96 months. The objectives they commit to the board of directors, shareholders are always based on infinite growth, the acquisition of competitors and an EBIT value over 20%. The same captains of the industry act now as highly paid consultants to strip the companies ”they made” to normal proportions. Te effecivly cashing in twice on the positions they once held.

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Real World DeltaE

July 28, 2009

You don’t have to spend that long in playing with colour management before the word deltaE comes up, it is after all a very complex subject with words that you will have never even heard of cropping up in paragraph after paragraph of text you read on the subject. But ever wondered what those deltaE numbers really mean?

Well quite simply put it is a single number that represents the ‘distance’ between two colours. Simple right? Well no not really since it doesn’t really help you visualise what that will mean to your job, on top of that deltaE comes in a number of flavours….. go figure! Each one has its own way of calculating that difference.

So let’s take a quick peek at what this colour difference will actually mean in the real world. I must stress this is only a simulation based on dE76 and was created some time back when I needed to simulate this subject to someone…. I’m sure one of you complete diehard colour experts out there will correct me if this is to far wrong…..

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Moore’s Law – the effect on productivity

July 21, 2009

Having been in this industry for 20 years next month I thought I’d take a quick look at how Moore’s Law really affects pre-media companies in the modern day.

Lets first look a what Moore’s Law is:

Moore’s law describes a long-term trend in the history of computing hardware. Since the invention of the integrated circuit in 1958, the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit has increased exponentially, doubling approximately every two years. The trend was first observed by Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore in a 1965 paper.

Moore's LawOk so basically every two years the computer chips embedded in our hardware will double in power, well it seems that the reality is on the high end of the computing scale and what actually affects us consumers is the technology that was already available at the high end 18 months ago just now the manufacturing process has been mastered to allow for mass production at a cinsumer affordable price.

But what does this mean? Well look at the current creative software major release cycles and we see that they are, well 18 months (roughly) and all these releases usually come requiring more and more power and memory from our machines, the installation have grown as well since storage is no longer a hurdle. But what’s the affect?

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Virtual Prototyping within the Consumer Packaged Goods Industry

July 17, 2009

Here I am, fully back to operational state, pretty much got the automation of baby feeding down to a tee now so finally after 6 days I’m getting a good nights sleep.

I spoke the other day about sustainability and provided a little insight into what it was all about. With this post I want to look at part of the supply chain of packaging that we don’t think about and how it affects what happens in pre-media and when pre-media companies could really be getting involved.

Fibretec Crush Devices

Fibretec Crush Devices

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RFID & Packaging – what’s the future got in store?

July 16, 2009

You may have heard of RFID in passing but never really taken much notice of it when it has been bought up, but the future is full of them affecting our every day lives…. but it may come at a cost.

Lets first remind you all about what it is:

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is the use of an object (typically referred to as an RFID tag) applied to or incorporated into a product, animal, or person for the purpose of identification and tracking using radio waves. Some tags can be read from several meters away and beyond the line of sight of the reader.

You may have heard about how WalMart is using it with their suppliers, or how the US army track their supplies around the globe, so we we can see that there is some mega bucks being ploughed into the technology, and with all new(ish) technology the more people that use it the cost of using it reduces and opens the doors for more or further reaching possibilities….

There’s a prediction from the an Ericsson executive stating that all mobile phones will have RFID readers and transmitters by 2010, this would open the doors (so to speak) of a million and one possibilities to what you can use your mobile phone for, for instance, credit card companies could track their users to combat credit card fraud, or lets say it could also open up a new revenue stream for the fruadsters out there with potentially devastating affects.

There are so many privacy concerns over this technology, I have to ask whether it still needs to mature some more until it is really let loose on the consumer…. But where could it be used with the consumer, well lets say that the prediction about mobile phones is true, could the technology then be embedded into consumer packaging? Could you be navigating your supermarket  from your phone? Getting product information that would you would usually pick up the product for and be able to see alternatives…. Or what about tapping in ‘eggs’ into your phone and having a store map with the exact shelf in the store along with the stock level.

So it does open up all sorts of possibilities for the consumers as well.

It’s going to be an interesting future and one I will be keeping a close eye on, maybe as one of those technologies that will creep up on your and then suddenly be a complete part of your everyday life…. But what will the reality be for the mobile phones? another one of the 95% of feature that users don’t use?

Author: Gary George

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Adobe Story – Drawing the Pre-media supply chain closer

July 16, 2009

Well we talk a lot about the actual production of artwork when we discuss pre-media, but really it all starts way up front when the first bit of text hits a pad, email, Word document or any real form of written communication. This material (or really content since it is information about something) is the start of information about the final product that could be used through the various stages of the development, it certainly plays a part in the pre-media supply chain. This comes from the ability to access information that is relevant, accurate and up-to-date through means of a collaboration platform or through automated tasks…. Yes even the automation of information plays a part here; just imagine generating a product, the communication of that product, it’s functions, colour, weight, packaging material etc etc all need to be placed in some sort of relevance, much like a website keyword density check performs on your website to ensure that it tells the world what you want it to, well imagine that with all the correspondence, documentation, project plans, project briefs, the list of where this information comes from could be endless. But imagine a tag cloud of all that information!

But, lets take a look at a specific usecase where Adobe is planning a new collaboration platform for creating, editing, and optimizing scripts for films, broadcast, and rich media called Adobe Story.

Where does it tie in…. well nowhere at the moment, but look at the potential for the pre-media supply chain, suddenly this collaboration platform gives access to the film script, edits, omissions, side notes, foot notes, scene descriptions, again the wealth of information in the script could be endless, now add a little of that magic automation into the mix and the extraction of approved content to be used elsewhere becomes all powerful; sites like IMDB could be providing more information to the content consumers way ahead of time, or say the pre-media companies, building the marketing campaigns, they could have access to the approved studio released information without needing to speak to any studio rep. This would reduce the time required to get the information to market – so to speak.

Or maybe another example, how about movie quotes, I remember my days of building VHS & DVD artwork and having to manually type in the quote, then we got to copy and paste it from an email, but imagine it just being connected directly to the collaboration platform for the studio exec’s to select or approve when they like.

Ok Adobe isn’t planning any of this, and it’s just my own creative little mind working overtime on how this technology could link into the world of pre-media, maybe it is the sleep depravation of my newborn making me have crazy day dreams, but I would like to think that someone out there will be creative enough to include this into their future business model to ensure the supply chain can benefit from the richness it will bring, after all, why climb out of one silo only to be in another!

Lets hope that someone can think outside the box and connect the dots with what is on offer here.

So here’s some official jargon from Adobe on what it will be,  but you can check out the full information at the Adobe Labs site.

Adobe Story

What is Adobe announcing in regards to Adobe Story?

  • Adobe Story is a versatile online and offline application for creating, editing, and optimizing scripts for films, broadcast, and rich media.
  • Adobe Story enables you to turn scripts into rich data for a variety of purposes, including enhanced workflow across Adobe Production Premium.
  • A public beta version is expected to be available on Adobe Labs in late-2009

How does Story tie into the plan to playback workflow?

  • Adobe Story will be part of the video workflow, tying into the pre-production phases of the process. It will be integrated with other Adobe products, streamlining the flow within the Adobe product family.

Author: Gary George

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