A few weeks ago I bought a time tracking program, because I wanted to figure out where I spend most of my time, and where I could trim some fat. It's one of these programs that lawyers use to bill you for every email (5 minute minimum) they write.
Well, after a week I was shocked to see that my tasks were completely fragmented. 2 Minutes here, 5 Minutes there, etc. But when I started grouping these tasks, I found that more than 60% of my time was spent answering questions about workflow and figuring out how and where to get info and save/backup/move/copy/enter data. Now part of that is my own fault. Some of it should have been written down and I could have saved valuable minutes by answering "search our WIKI" every time.
to remeI'm currently in the process to remedy that, and it's working really well. But still, a lot of my time is spent figuring out things that are not of my own doing.
And that's what I'd like to rant about today. Let me give you an example.
How come that every cheapo 100-Dollar point-and-shoot digital still camera automatically records EXIF data (metadata) about lens size, F-Stop, etc., and I can put any autofocus lens on every 500-Dollar SLR camera out there, and it does the same, but the 20/50/180,000-Dollar (or the "I'm-so-expensive-you-can-only-rent-me") digital film cameras don't have that?
Some digital film cameras have no such option, some have a few lens types that can. But even then, there's no standard post workflow to get that data into our files, or keep them there. WHY????
On our production of "2012", only 50% of the Panavision lenses we used were capable of recording lens data. But even then, we had to write tools so that the data, which was captured in an audio channel, would be transferred into the DPX file headers. Then we had to write another tool, which would allow the artists or managers to extract the information from the dpx files.
On the Red camera, you can do this with the Cooke S4/I lenses. But as soon as my DP wants to use something else, I'm back to figuring out what to do (which is usually having a data wrangler who writes down the information, puts it in a database on his laptop, which will then be exported into our project management system - same as we did 15 years ago. So much for progress.)
But even if I can somehow acquire that data, there's no standard to actually read it inside our applications. Again, on the still photo side, every 50-Dollar (or free) application from ACDSee to Irfanview to iPhoto can display (and KEEP during a copy process) all the EXIF data of that picture. But if (BIG IF) I had my data somehow stored in the dpx/exr/tiff/whatever file , there'd still be no way for my 3D artist working in Maya/Max/XSI to see that lens data. WTF?
This, by the way, is just one of many, many examples. But I will keep this one short.
So SMPTE, ISO, DCI, VES, whoever you are, could you PLEASE move ahead and introduce some standards for stuff that we've been using and/or needing for over a decade now? Is it really that hard to come up with that?
I heard this rumor a while ago, that VHS won over Betacam because the porn industry adopted it (since it was cheaper to produce). If that's true, I can only hope that in the future, there will be more porn films using virtual sets, so we can finally move ahead and get the standard tools that we should have had years ago.