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Daniel Witt
by Daniel Witt
Sep 22, 2014
All Posts by Daniel Witt

The Power of Talent

People always ask me how I got into the video business. They say, “Oh you must be really talented!” Or, “I wish I could be as creative as you.” My bashful side always comes out in these cases, saying “Aw, shucks I’m no better than anyone else.” But I do have creative talent – which did not come easily for me.

"Having the ability to create is a core attribute of humanity"

What is creativity? Art. Books. Cooking. Design. Programming. Movies. All of these things require creativity. We take things like ingredients, words, code or video, and put them together to make something totally new and exciting. Having the ability to create is a core attribute of humanity, and it is what keeps our world interesting and engaging. We create new things, new methods, new colors, new plots, and new recipes. Everyone is creative in his or her own way.

Can you imagine a world without creativity?

There are those in the world who are more creative than others. Think of famous musicians, artists, chefs and directors. They all express creative talents that often far exceed our own. How did they get to that level? Can we ever hope to be that creative?

Our society has a tendency to label those which exceptional creative talent as ‘gifted,’ a term derived from the concept of a spiritual gift from a divine being to that person. In the scientific world, giftedness “designates the possession and use of untrained and spontaneously expressed superior natural abilities.” (Source: University of Quebec) These abilities heighten the senses, enlarge understanding and increase intellectual capacity of the gifted person, which allows them to gain talent faster than the average person. However, being gifted is not everything. The combination of gift itself, chance, environmental catalysts, learning and practice all combine to become talent.

"...creative genius itself grows out of the ability to sustain intense commitment"

What if you are not gifted, and are just Joe Shmoe who wants to learn how to cook? Fortunately, being without gifts does not count you out. Carol S. Dweck, a psychology professor at Stanford, said “...creative genius itself grows out of the ability to sustain intense commitment for extended lengths of time in the face of obstacles.” (Source: Duke Talent Identification Program) In short, creativity is something that anyone can get better at.

The key to gaining creative talent for anyone, including the gifted, is motivation. As Dr. Dweck mentioned above, intense commitment is required in order to build talent. In Zimbabwe, “the Shona language equivalent term for talent shavi/ushavi literally translates to “having a spirit for doing something.” Shavi/Ushavi expresses the power and intensity of emotional drive, inspiration or motivational energy that is often associated with talented individuals and eminent achievers.” (Source: The International Research Association for Talent Development and Excellence, emphasis added) Those that are really good at what they do, usually worked hard at becoming that good.

I wasn’t born with the ability to turn on a computer and create a mind-blowing video in a couple of hours. I spent many hours learning motion graphics techniques from books, tutorials and friends. I practiced new techniques whenever I had free time. I never gave up learning, and I still strive to learn the newest tricks. I’ve even come up with a few tricks of my own, without any help. I’m starting to develop my creative talent.

Like many other industries, our business is centered on creativity. We create engaging videos to attract and retain an audience to a message. Those that hire us have a message, but don’t necessarily know what creative should be used to convey that message. That’s where we come in, crafting a video with the appropriate creative to make the video work for our clients.

As such, we need creativity like a pasta factory needs flour (unless it’s gluten-free pasta factory, than anything goes). We seek out the best creative people to team up with to create amazing content. We need people with talent in content creation. When you work in a video production company, you are getting hard-earned talent from motivated professionals. We’re not better than anyone else, just more creative.

Daniel Witt
by Daniel Witt
Apr 29, 2014
All Posts by Daniel Witt

How many backups does a backup need, before a backup is backed-up?

It’s a good question, and one that everyone should be asking themselves. Creating awesome video content means storing lots of data. Often times we’re capturing video at a one-time only event, meaning it can’t be replaced. Even on the animation side of the house, so much time goes in to creating even a short animation that it cannot be easy replicated if lost. That’s why we put so much effort into making sure that our data and our client’s data is properly backed up.

Today’s data storage mediums are susceptible to two main weaknesses, mediums and locations. Medium weaknesses involve the type of storage, whether it’s a hard drive failure, a fried USB stick, deteriorating and scratched DVDs, or even closing online backup solutions. Location weaknesses could involve thefts, disasters, and simple accidents. With data living on tightropes, having more ropes to support your data is always a good idea in case one rope breaks.

This philosophy rings true with video production. Footage is written to a solid-state medium like an SD card, which is then copied to a computer for editing. If that footage is corrupted or deleted along the way, that footage is lost. There’s no tape to go back to and no fallback method. Because of this critical nature, footage needs to be backed up as soon as it leaves the camera. And then backed up again, and again, and again.

Why back up the backup? Again, it goes back to the fact that all mediums have their weaknesses. The goal is to overcome both the medium weakness and the location weakness at the same time. By doing so, you reduce the overall risk of losing your data. 

With that in mind, we have a backup strategy that starts with the shoot:

  • Footage is copied to an external on-set drive. If a secondary drive is available, footage should be copied there as well. 
  • The primary external hard drive is brought to One Floor Up, where it is copied to our server. Data is retained on the external hard drive temporarily.
  • The server copies the footage to a backup external hard drive.
  • At this point, we have 4 copies of the footage: the primary on-set drive, the backup on-set drive, the server backup drive, and the server.
  • The backup server drive is replicated weekly to a secondary backup server drive. The secondary backup server drives are kept off site, while the primary backup server drives stay at the office.
  • Once the 2 backups are made from the server, the on-set drives can be safely erased and used for another shoot.
  • The project files are backed-up hourly from the server using an external project backup drive.
  • These files are also backed-up nightly to my home server’s project backup drive.
  • Once projects are finished, they are archived to the same server backup drives.

You may notice most of our backup storage involves hard drives. At the moment, they are the cheapest method of storing data. They definitely do have their weaknesses, such as a short shelf life, higher failure rate than other mediums, and fragility. By varying the brands of hard drives we buy, and staggering the buy rates, we vary the hard drive failure risk enough to ensure that not all drives will fail at the same time, allowing for time to replace the failed drive. In the future, we’ll be looking at tape-based and online cloud backup as additional options.

Imagine the feeling of terror you’ll feel once you find your server crashed, or the office was broken into and all the drives are stolen. Your responsibility is to protect your data. Take the time to think about all the disastrous possibilities that could happen to the livelihood that is your data, and create ways to protect against it. Good luck, and back it up!