Monday, June 10, 2013

One more job lost...

I have often noted the loss of jobs in the entertainment business. Best example of this is the little documentaries I make. In 2005 I returned to my home town in northern Canada (yes, there is a southern Canada) and made a 42 minute documentary of the town's 100th anniversary. 

To do this I had a crew of 3 people, myself as camera, my friend Gordon as camera and another friend Preben who helped us. We filmed about 8 hours of DV video. When I returned to L.A., I began editing it on Final Cut Pro, an editing system for professional use. 

There I was able to edit and add music which I created on garageband and recorded the narration in a closet. So besides Gordie and Preben, I essentially made the documentary by myself.  And I sold a lot of copies.

So what?

Well, my director friend Paul dropped by and watched as I edited another piece of work for a producer in which I shot the interviews, edited the pieces, inserted video from other sources and did the music again. I used freeze frames, pan 'n scan edits and much more. 

When I finished Paul said something interesting; In doing all those jobs, I took away work from at least a half dozen people. 

Now me taking away a half dozen jobs isn't much, but if you multiply it by 10 or 100 or 1000 people like me doing all this work by themselves, it begins to add up. And it's not only the entertainment business; I was talking to the gas meter reader a few months ago, the guy who comes along to measure gas to my stove. He said his job is going away as the company will be using satellite to measure gas usage.

I called a dvd duplication house awhile ago to make a dvd for Europe, this place had 3 separated offices and now - only one.

Last Friday I heard about something else; Amazon will take a screenplay, yours or mine and

convert it into storyboards. Storyboards are mostly single frames drawn by an artist, sometimes black and white, sometimes color.

But Amazon has a computer that actually reads the screenplay and then DRAWS the storyboards for you. In color.

Storyboard artists are shivering this morning, that's for sure. The storyboards you see here are hand-drawn.

So what about writing, when will a computer begin to write screenplays? Well, writers have science on their side because computers, according to futurist Machio Kaku, will never be able to create strong stories from life and experience. In other words, there'll always be a demand for content that computers, which are just glorified adding machines, will not be able to write like humans do.

At least for the next 50 years, but then I won't be around. 

BTW the color storyboard at the top of the blog is from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, a Stephen Spielberg film. It's the scene where Richard Dreyfuss begins to make a tower from mashed potatoes.

Below is Amazon's ad.




  1. There is a TV series over here called 'Casualty' which is the name they give to the ER over here at hospitals and it's been on since 1986 – even though the American press sometimes call it the British ER!
    I have noticed that they have cut the acting jobs by half.
    They do it by having a character come in to the hospital, get treated and then on the way home, or wherever, they get hit by a truck or crash their car; strange but it's true. They only have to pay one actor to have two complaints.

  2. I thought Manitoba was in the south of Canada not the north.

  3. Manitoba's south leans against Minnesota and North Dakota but it's north goes way up to Hudson's Bay which is near the Arctic (note spelling, not Artic). FYI 75% of the province consists of lakes, rocks and trees and no highways.