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Is this true of most professions?

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Is this true of most professions?
on Oct 28, 2006 at 3:10:08 am

Something I find amusing on the Cow.

I would hate to bring my car to a mechanic for a brake job and then read a message he's posted on some forum asking how to install brakes on my car before I'm due to pick it up tomorrow. Or my dentist in a forum asking how to do my root canal on Tuesday. As their client I assume they have the knowledge to do the job without outside help. Yet this is what I notice happening, and not rarely, in the Cow forums when it comes to video/motion-graphics production.

I often get stuck in deep doo-doo with some programs and look for help here, but I'm still a hobbyist with future aspirations in video work. And I understand how complicated programs like AE are and that no one knows everthing, and even the pros learn from each other. This post is not directed at them. But something seems fishy to me to when I read about a "professional" who is obviously getting paid for their work, asking the most _basic_ questions.

"My deadline is tomorrow for a tv commercial, I have to do 'x' in program 'y', teach me NOW!"

I am somewhat cynical about just how knowledgeable some people pretend to be, at least to prospective clients, in this business.

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Tim Kolb
Re: Is this true of most professions?
on Oct 28, 2006 at 3:48:58 am

Worse yet is the posts regarding problem clients...

I've posted about experiences with problem clients...after we no longer work with them. Frankly I usually relate facts and am not the least worried about it as I would stand behind everything I've said and in many times, related my views to the client directly long before I posted them here.

I suppose one day there will be a client who will track down a vendor on the Cow...I have several clients within our field who use the forums. I'll have to be on my best behavior.


Kolb Productions,

Creative Cow Host,

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Ron Lindeboom
Re: Is this true of most professions?
on Oct 28, 2006 at 4:12:31 am

Yes, *some* people do this. ;o)

Sometimes, it cannot be helped and many here have done a job or two under these conditions. But a steady diet of it can drive one into a new with much less stress.

It's far better to do your practicing -- as they do in medical school -- on people who can't and don't complain.



Ron Lindeboom

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Shane Ross
Re: Is this true of most professions?
on Oct 28, 2006 at 4:51:48 am

I have taken jobs without knowing exactly how to handle the format. BUT...I asked all the questions and did all the research BEFORE I captured one frame. I was asked to edit in HD...when all I had was experience in SD. So I posed questions here, researched on many websites...consulted with lots of people...and tested workflows.

But yeah, that is VERY different from people in the middle of a project who are stuck as to what to do...or haven't a clue how to deliver the master that the client requires. When I see these posts I just shake my head and sigh. There goes another job that a professional could have done, but the client was either too cheap to hire the professional (thinking that anyone with a home editing rig could do this) or the person taking the job lied about what they could do.

When they ask how to do something, and I give the basic answer, and they come back with "but I don't know how to do that? What do you mean I need to x and y?" And x and y are the very basics of editing. Then I just sigh and tell them to hire someone who knows what to do. No point in the client suffering for this persons inability to deliver.


Littlefrog Post

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Nick Griffin
Re: Is this true of most professions?
on Oct 28, 2006 at 1:37:03 pm

First and foremost I am NOT trying to defend any amateurs who take jobs that they haven't the knowledge to complete and then look for help once they determine the limits of their own knowledge. Not good. Not cool and certainly not people who are likely to be hired again -- especially if their client reads the COW.

But I think Unzarjones is kidding himself if he thinks this doesn't ocurr in other professions. I like the idea that my doctor would look outside of his own knowledge base -- just wouldn't like it if he'd first promised me that he was an expert in a particular area. If I ask my lawyer about a particular situation I expect him to take some time on Lexus-Nexus and/or in the law library getting more familiar with the specifics of an area of the law.

While asking how to perform the basics once landing the job is ridiculous, is it wrong to look for alternative techniques while in the middle of a job? If I remember some technique that I've seen and go into the After Effects forum to ask how it's done have I misled my client or am I simply looking for ways to extend and vary the skill set I already have?

This isn't black and white, right vs. wrong. Presenting someone else's demo reel as your own IS black and white (and wrong, wrong, wrong on so many levels). But looking to expand one's horizons whether at the beginning, middle or end of a job isn't. I've been hired to deliver an end result which reflects a visual style different (and hopefully better) than what's done by my competitors. The more resources I bring to bear to get there, the better.

Now as to the COW being a public place where friends, family, co-workers, competitors, and even clients can read your deepest personal thoughts... well DUH, think about that when you're writing them. (And if a certain softare company south of LA but north of the Mexican border wants to look here to learn that I think they're a bunch of morons -- more power to them. And no it's not you Jim... it's the other putz.)

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Mark Suszko
Re: Is this true of most professions?
on Oct 28, 2006 at 7:32:20 pm

I think the doctor and lawyer examples are at once the best and worst examples you could give. They are both very specialized professions, and you would not expect one lawyer to know everything about intellectual property law, tax law, divorce law, immigration law, etc. Doctors do not al have the same grasp of pediatrics, OBGYN, Gerontology, surgery, psychiatry, etc, that's why they specialize.

The same with editors and producers; we can be generalists that know a little about a lot of areas, and/or specialists that demonstrate a command over one specific area. For such folks, there is no shame in asking after info outside their area of expertise.

I would not try to lie myself into a gig that was over my head. I think the much more common scenario is, a project is begun under a set of expectations and assumptions that change mid-course, and now the guy editing has to scramble to solve a new problem introduced by a client or circumstances. Say, it turns out a particular shot is not available or beyond repair and deadlines loom with no answers in sight. But you could save the shot with a little 3-d compositing magic, only you have not gotten arund to the tutorial for that feature yet. Or I have been in situations where we've bought new software and I have to start working with it the same day. Or we can afford the tool but not the training. That's common.

If the guy or gal is truly clueless about the most basic concepts, and is expecting to learn on the job, that should be understood by everyone up-front and approved in advance. If it is a case of someone blatantly lying about their credentials then crashing the project, well, they deserve whatever bad fate they get. Something I've found in this business, especially since the internet, is the community of people that do what we do is incredibly generous in sharing their skills with others. The COW is a terrific example, but not the only one. Learning is living; never stop asking questions.

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Nick Griffin
Re: Is this true of most professions?
on Oct 30, 2006 at 2:48:57 pm

Mark Suzko wrote: "I think the doctor and lawyer examples are at once the best and worst examples you could give."

Mark, Mark, Mark. Yes obviously if I had a need for criminal attorney (God forbid) or an Oncologist (doubly God forbid) I'd be seeking out a specialist. But the majority of my clients view the services I provide much the way as they do their General Practioner physician or attorney. They're seeing the service(s) I provide as filling their need for media-based communication. I doubt that anyone gives it too much thought beyond that because understanding the details of what I do for them is not their primary concern. Their concern is that it GET done with an understood level of quality, at an agreed upon cost and within the alotted timeframe.

If they want a Star Wars' quality of green screen-matted laser sword fighting as part of their sales video, they should assume that I'll have to bring in resources. They're not calling Aharon Rabinowitz or Andrew Kramer directly because, again, the details are not their primary concern. Is your business much different?

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Re: Is this true of most professions?
on Oct 31, 2006 at 3:08:31 pm

You have never seen the mechanic check the appropriate repair manual for your car while he is working on it? Of course they do. Of course they know what to do in general but there are specific things or peculiarities for your make and model that they are checking. I happen to produce medical training DVDs for orthopaedic surgeons. One of the intended markets for our products is for experienced surgeons who the night before, or even moments before, are getting a refresher on the procedure. They also communicate with each other before and during procedures just to make sure. The good thing is it takes more than just owning a pager and a surgical gown to be a surgeon, and you're right, the guy asking " how do I make sure this high end commercial is broadcast safe. How do I read the vectorscope"... is not a pro. But the fundamentally people are always learning and making sure they are on top of their game. If they are just trying to get in the game, that's when they mess things up for everyone.


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Re: Is this true of most professions?
on Oct 31, 2006 at 10:57:51 pm

"One of the intended markets for our products is for experienced surgeons who the night before, or even moments before, are getting a refresher on the procedure."

I hope that experienced surgeon has either practiced the procedure on someone else before he gets to me or is current on his malpractice premiums. In any case, the largest screwup by some inept video editor is trivial in comparison.

This thread is getting awfully similar to an old episode of the Simpsons.


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Bob Cole
feel fee
on Nov 7, 2006 at 11:22:24 pm

[Unzarjones] "This thread is getting awfully similar to an old episode of the Simpsons."

Rather snide remark, eh? Which episode? What's your point? If you don't like it, feel free to change the channel.

The COW is by and large a community of generous people -- experts who could make snide remarks and put down others for their stupid questions, but don't.

Many of us have our Emmy's and other awards that allegedly certify us as professionals, yet we occasionally post questions that betray our ignorance of some detail. But keep in mind several aspects of our rapidly-changing profession in 2006: (1) many of us work alone or in small companies; (2) the nature of production is that it requires pulling together several fields, even those in which we have little expertise; and (3) due to time and budgetary constraints, we can't afford to hire specialists. We can't just walk down the hall and talk to an engineer, or a sound recordist, or a special effects artist. So we come to the COW, confident that our "stupid questions" will receive a respectful response.

True, there are some VERY stupid questions. But sometimes, the answers even to those questions can help me reconsider the way I always assumed something had to be edited/lit/dubbed/etc.

So keep those "stupid" questions coming, folks, and try to avoid putting other people down. It only makes you look smaller.

-- Bob C.

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Re: feel fee
on Nov 19, 2006 at 5:08:31 pm

I'm certainly glad that you're not a snide person. If you really want to know the Simspon's episode I referred to in my last post, I will look it up for you. It was my first post and not the last that hurt your feelings. Nothing I wrote was done with the intent to berate. I was making a valid point. We both have high regards for the "Cow", so if you want to play the "I'm holier than thou AND humbler" game, send it here -

I'm testing a new spam filter. UJ

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Clint Nitkiewicz Hernandez
Re: Is this true of most professions?
on Dec 18, 2006 at 4:14:26 am

But thats just the great thing about the cow. Pride will never overtake our (artists) doubts, and urge to ask simple questions. Sometimes the most stupid questions gives great insight. Sometimes us as professionals are too knowledgable for our own good, and it requires an idiots perspective to solve such problems. Also some of us work best under pressure, and not knowing how to do something before we actually commit, is part of the fun! We could stay up til 5 in the morning figuring something out. That just proves how dedicated we are, and shows how much we want to keep growing. Having enough confidence in ourselves enables us to commit to such uncharted waters (tasks and projects), and we know, that we would not commit if we think we can fail. Failure does not exist in our vocabulary and therefore, once presented with an opportunity, we are not going to say email "Email the work order to my sister, shes better." Hopefully you learned that we are not the average joe playing doctor as you mentioned, we are doctors, and our beepers go off all day not knowing what will await us.

Clint Nitkiewicz Hern

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