Steve Kilisky's Dynamic Media Blog

January 24, 2006

Golden Rules

As I'm creating this entry, I am second guessing my decision to create a category called "Deep Thoughts". How presumptive of me to assume that entries I make here are deep. Maybe "Sometimes Deep Thoughts" would be better until someone equates my prose with the musings of George Gilder, Paul Saffo, or maybe Hunter S. Thompson, which is highly unlikely.

But back to the subject at hand. Last week on the plane to MGLA (more specifically sitting on the tarmac waiting several hours for Alaska Airlines maintenance to verify the delamination of a cockpit window was within tolerance; it was not), I was reading the latest issue of RES and to my pleasant surprise I noticed a spread ad for the Adobe Production Studio.

Over the years, I've seen a few Adobe ads for our video products, and this one was the best one so far. But as much as I liked it, I couldn't help but notice that it violated one of David Ogilvy's "golden rules"; reverse type is too hard to read. It made me reflect on other "rules" I had imprinted in my brain such as never wear a striped shirt with plaid pants. In fact never wear plaid pants at all unless you are on a golf course or maybe a gathering of the clans in which case you'd probably be wearing a kilt.

But I digress (and now you might see why I regret calling this category deep thoughts). Closer to home, I remember being told in college never edit a video with a jumpcut (thanks to Herbert Zettl). I agonized over projects I had to edit where I didn't have b-roll to cover a jumpcut (now there is a solid rule: you can never have too much b-roll), only to see the no jumpcut rule go out the window by people who hadn't been indoctrinated in the rules of Professor Zettl, who happened to have authored the textbook used in his class.

From that day on, I realized that rules are meant to be broken and some of the most interesting motion graphics today are done by artists redefining the rules.

Speaking of rules, I welcome comments and believe it is important to share both kudos and constructive criticism, but the one rule I have is that if you submit a comment, please use your real name (or handle if you must), but you need to include a valid email address. Commenting in anonymity goes against the spirit of this blog.

Have you broken a golden rule of motion graphics or vfx? Or do you have a golden rule that has served you well (keep it on topic please). Share your thoughts here and inspire others to follow your lead.

Posted by Steve Kilisky at 8:34 PM on January 24, 2006


Alejandro PĂ©rez — 11:26 AM on January 25, 2006

When making short movies, I have a personal golden rule: Invest the time where it's cheaper. I have a rather realistic view on what I can do in postproduction and consider "If I want to delay this actor for two seconds, what is better, to shoot it again now or to spare half an hour for 20 people and work on it just me for, say, 2 hours in masking, tracking, etc". As long as I have an accurate knowledge of what my limits are, in small-fast-cheap-non important projects, it uses to work better for me the missused "let postproduction solve it" than the "if you hope postpo can solve it, you have a problem".

Peter Kahn — 11:49 AM on February 3, 2006

While I know that this is an After Effects blog, dedicated to all things After Effects, your comment about Alaska Airlines prompts me to get off point for a second.

Dude, you owe it to yourself and your family not to fly that carrier. I stopped flying Alaska about 3 months before that horrible crash they had in 2000 off the coast of Southern California and lately, the FAA once again found maintenance procedures in the Oakland facility substandard and that jackscrews were not receiving proper lube (It was Oakland and poorly lubed jackscrews that caused the Cali crash). I know that there isn't a lot of choice when flying up and down the left coast but I personally feel much better on a SouthWest plane than anything else. We need an experienced AE Product Manager around for the next couple of versions so do the right thing. I apologize to anyone connected with Alaska Airlines who is reading this entry but until there is some demonstration that Alaska performs proper maintenance before filling their jets with humans, I am going to go right on and say these things.

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