04 March 2013

Technology isn't the problem

The Economist | Split screens: A tale of two Tinseltowns

Meanwhile, costs are rising. Everyone had expected technology to make it cheaper to produce films, but the opposite has happened, says Michael Lynton, the boss of Sony Pictures. A move from analogue to digital film enabled perfectionist directors to shoot more takes and touch them up afterward, using up expensive production and editing time.
Sorry, but no. Technology has not made it more expensive to make films. Technology has allowed filmmaking to be more expensive. It's also allowed filmmaking to be less expensive. Same as pretty much every other industry.

The problem is not technological trends. The problem is that social trends have failed to keep up with changing technology. Hollywood producers haven't been able to keep a tight enough leash on their directors employees. They're making a management error, but blaming it on tech.

Don't let directors shoot extra takes. Don't let them edit forever. Don't let them order the FX team to re-make a digital shot of shattering glass so that the shards briefly take the form of a blooming rose.*
True story.

Why am I even mentioning this? One, because I think it's important to disaggregate social and technological trends. Two, because Health Care. I'll leave the analogy as an exercise for the reader.


  1. Before word processors proliferated, when secretaries(!) had to correct documents with whiteout or had to re-type the whole thing, people thought twice about changing final versions. Then, we developed the ability to easily change them, and easily print out the results. Now we probably use considerably more paper than we used to, per document, because of the need for everyone to leave their mark on documents.

    Same principle.

    1. Exactly the same thing. Lower the cost of doing something (editing reports, re-shooting scenes) and you get more of it.