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The power of AI, Wonder Studio, the family of Adobe apps, Avid and so much more have changed and are changing the way we create. But unlike past tech, new tech is coming at us so fast and furious (do I have to pay licensing fees for using that phrase) it’s hard to keep up, let alone master them.

Historically, new tech or an invention would pop onto the market and as time passed people would tinker with its options, take it out for a “test drive” and get comfortable with operating it.  Once they had a handle on using it they would start blending that tech into their creative lives. 

When the automobile first showed up on the scene people didn’t understand the need. Their horses and wagons got the job done. Besides the roads sucked for cars.  Cars became a luxury for the rich to cruise the countryside bumping around in this overpriced machine. As time passed it went from an oddity to the necessity it is today.

Or… How about the computer? They started out as massive corporate machines crunching numbers and running formulas day and night. Eventually they were scaled down for individuals to use at home. Great, but there was still no real purpose for people to own them other than the hobby nerds who tinkered with them after they were done listening to their shortwave radios.

Eventually new personal computer tech was developed and people discovered more and more purpose for personal computers. Today there are 5.22 BILLION personal portable computers in use. We call them smartphones.

Not so long-ago creative careers were split into large categories; photography, graphic design, music, film, etc. Once they decided on which creative area they were interested in they began learning and experimenting with the basic skills necessary to create with the tech in that area. Since technological advances in those areas came on line slowly, it gave the creative time to learn and evaluate the new tech with its relevance to advancing the individual’s career.

Let’s assume it’s the late 70s and you had an interest in photography. You would have been reading photography magazines and had a basic understanding of taking pictures. You went to your local camera store and talked with the owner. Together you decided on an Olympus OM1. Now you were off and running. The more pictures you took the more you learned. You kept up with new techniques by reading trade mags and stopping by your local camera shop.  Life was good. Your abilities were growing and you could focus on expanding your creative expression.

You slowly added new lenses, filters, experimented with different film speeds and even build yourself a small dark room to develop your own shots.

Then 1987 with the development of Photoshop by the Knoll brothers (who offered the distribution license to Adobe in 1988) marked the moment that photography and photographers were about to undergo a mega change in creativity and necessary skills. Since most photographers weren’t digital tech nerds most didn’t pay attention to the seismic shift that was heading their way.

Even as the world pushed further and further into the digital age change wasn’t instantaneous.

Creatives working in the music recording industry had time to evaluate, learn and adjust to the wave shapes appearing on their studio’s computer screens that were actually the audio tracks they just recorded. Prior to that moment sound just mysteriously transferred from an audio mixing console to a brown thin tape woven through a series of pullies on a tape-recording machine. The companies’ pioneering these new products released enhancements and updates on a reasonable timetable giving their users time to level up their skills while expanding their creativity. 

Today unlike any time in history, we have so many inventions / technologies have been dumped on the market at a pace never before seen. As an engineer and inventor, I believe the flood of new tech is due in part to the low cost of developing digital products. Writing code to execute a waveform on a screen is a WHOLE lot cheaper than having to open up a machine shop to mill out a car axel. Also, today promoting your new invention is as simple as posting on social media. These two facts alone have added to the landslide of products onto the market.

Because of that fact there’s no historic look back telling us how to approach learning, evaluating and adapting to this crush of new tech, we could easily feel overwhelmed or falling behind.

In the creative industries falling behind is even more acute then in other industries, because falling behind means becoming obsolete.  Being obsolete professionally means the end of your career.

Fear not… 

Since the phenomenon of the rapid advancement of tech is spread out across all sectors of our industries it presently means there is no right or wrong. No one can predict which tech is going to stick and which will become a footnote in Wikipedia.

The safest route to take is to not base your decision on the tech but on the gig. Meaning, if you are asked to edit an indie feature film you will probably end up on an app like Premier Pro. If you are looking to cut a vanity piece for your boyfriend’s dance company then Capcut or iMovie could be your “go to”.

I look at choosing tech the way I choose what roads I’m going to take when I jump on the Harley. If I need to go from north New Jersey to Philly in a hurry I’m going to use Interstate 95. If I’m not in a hurry and I feel like discovering new areas, then I roll through the backroads of Jersey’s lush sprawling rural farmlands. (YEA! Jersey is primarily gorgeous vistas if you get off the highways)  

Obviously, if you’re proficient at using Pro Tools you not going to edit music on WavePad or Garage Band no matter how basic the project. Although sometimes if I need to slam together a rough track of dialogue, then my go to is Garage Band. It’s like taking Interstate 95 through Jersey. It’s not pretty but it gets you there quick and without thinking.

Every creative who has been working professionally for a while has their technology preference and will try to persuade you to learn it, “it’s not that hard and it’s the industry standard.” I can’t argue with them. But that shouldn’t be the end of the discussion.

I am a result driven person.  If I hand a project to someone new to the industry, I usually don’t care what they use to get to the finish line. As long as in the end the final product covers all quality parameters spelled out in my spec.

It wouldn’t make sense for me to force someone who has never used Photoshop Pro to learn it and then have it completed in the same time frame as someone who knows their way around the app. IT’S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. Even if I forced the new person to use Photoshop Pro, the final product will not look like they used it. It’s not the tech alone. It’s the tech in the hands of an experienced pro.

Here is another secret most pros have either forgotten or have forgotten to mention. When they started using these applications the apps had just hit the market with very basic functions. By the time the apps upgraded in functionality the users had already mastered the basics and were ready for advanced features.

Today if it’s your first time opening an app like Photoshop, Premier Pro, Pro Tools, or any app that has been on the market for years, the number of features and creative options can be overwhelming. This feeling can cause new users to back away thinking they don’t have the chops to work in this field.

Fortunately, today you can slowly bring yourself on board with these pro apps by scrubbing through You Tube to find someone who knows what they are talking about or find a gig where a mentor will share their tricks and talents. Finally, find a community of pros who won’t lead you down a stupid unnecessary rabbit hole. Reddit has some good sub Reddits. Creative Cow is another trusted community or lean into the wizards on Ferro City. All these outlets will support your learning efforts step by step or actually offer full courses.

Your take home point for the day.

Tech is always going to change the professional landscape. Don’t freak out. Use the tools you know while you learning the tools you need to know. Your creative aptitude should always be your strength.  Tools are just that, tools. You are the craftsperson.

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