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Monday, January 02, 2012

Happy New Year & Do The Tools Matter ?

Some once said, you hire a carpenter for their skills, not the brand of hammer and saw they own.


Well then poor carpenters, framers, trimmers and cabinet makers. I don't think  the analogy is really  true once you leave the commodity common items. For example, a carpenter without a truck or van to haul materials and tools to a job site is in a different category then one who does, or one who has certainly specialty tools for jobs that most don't. Clearly having certain tools means you can do jobs others can't. A highly skilled craftsman is also more likely to have more and better specialty tools because they know they can do the job better with them than without them.

Having some tools in either trade are significant advantages : editing camera formats native vs hours of time and 100's of gb's of drive space to transcode. If your tool won't edit your material, well thats not much of a story you're telling, at least on the screen anyway.

I say myth when it comes to the tools not mattering so much.

Having the right tools may well be critical to telling the story

Lets face it, if you need a couple of GoPro's for specific POV shots there's the  right tool and the wrong one. Sure there are other small mountable cameras which could also work fine but a big shoulder cam is another story.  if you don't have any small mountable cameras you just may not be getting the shots you need at all. That may mean no story to tell, or one that just isn't anywhere near as good.

If your NLE hasn't been updated in years but "it just works" consider - you are wasting how much time and drive space to transcode to a common frame rate and codec ? at some point the few hundred dollars to upgrade is just a no brainer. You'll spend more on that for drives to hold the material you're transcoding ! How do you tell some one paying you for your time you need to waste theirs on out-dated software that can't handle a modern format ?

Having the wrong tools may make it much harder and time consuming. 

This is the more popular one to tell. " A skilled pro can shoot on a pixel vision camera and make it look good"  or some variant of it.  I've heard it, I'm sick of it. Ya sure I can shoot on a pixel vision camera, but why on earth would I ? really ? this is just such a poor argument. I know in  a pinch any one with skill will improvise a solution to get through the day or week. The Skilled will also realize if they are going to need to do this task more often, getting the right specialty gear or software that really handles the job well is a requirement. I can tell you've I've bought a lot of gear for this reason. More often then not, one job paid for the gear and then I have it. While it might of cost me more than a rental, as long as it gets used enough its a smart purchase. If it never gets used, and I don't send it off to ebay while its still got value, it wasn't a smart move. 

So I say the tools do matter sometimes. They matter more under some circumstances than others to be sure, but they do matter. Leaving yourself at a serious disadvantage because of short comings in your tools is not the mark of a real pro.

The ability to use your tools is important, but having a plan in what you are building is just as important because you need both to get something done.