Language of Business Episode 2: Software as a Communication Vehicle
Years ago, video editing was an exclusive club. People shut off from the world and back rooms with expensive equipment and unique domain expertise. Fast forward to today, anyone with a phone running iMovie or Adobe Rush can shoot, edit and post videos in minutes. On this episode will talk about software as a communication vehicle from big name producers like Adobe to tutorial and plug-in companies such as Ripple Training and Stupid Raisin. And who knows
what the next five years might bring? How does the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986 relate to today's software communication strategies? We're on location virtually with Stephen Hart who is a senior customer success manager with Adobe, and welcome to The Language of Business. Thanks Greg. Great example to indicate why everybody, regardless of their discipline, needs to be effective communicators and storytellers. If I were to ask your audience or you today what failed in the '86 Challenger disaster, most of your audience would say, if they are familiar with it, the O rings, the rubber things that sat between the sections on the solid rocket boosters, that failed. Well, in reality, while it's technically they failed in reality...
It was a communication process that failed the engineers, or Morton Thiokol lacked the ability or couldn't convince the decision makers that morning not to launch because it was too cold. Hence it launched and it was the disaster that we know it is today. A converse to that example is if you got in your car and were driving 60 miles an hour towards a brick wall and stepped on your brake 10 feet in front of that wall. Did the brakes fail when you when you crashed into that wall? The decision process in terms of stepping on the brake too soon, soon enough, is what failed. You've come up in part with a creative campus initiative to promote digital literacy.
How does that work? Creative campuses or universities in North America worldwide. Actually that's regardless of one's discipline. If a student needs to be digitally literate if not digitally fluent...
in order to enter the workforce today and be relevant in terms of content creators and content consumers. And you hold these creative campus events throughout the calendar year. When was the most recent one held? The most recent creative campus we held was just a few weeks, 2-3 weeks ago, obviously, virtually. Normally these events are roughly quarterly.
We started about five or six years ago with a small group of interested academics in a small meeting in California. This has now grown to attract well over 100 instructors, professors, administrators from universities and and some K through 12 as they exchange ideas in terms of incorporating digital components into the curriculum. Regardless of what they're teaching, something I've always found intriguing about Adobe's strategy is that, unlike other software companies where you buy it and own it, Adobe tends to license it, almost rent it on a monthly basis.
How is that working out for your company? The reason why we converted to a subscription based model? As opposed to selling software in a block and delivering it like it's a bag of potatoes, is is that it allows us to continue to innovate. And add additional features and respond to the market much more quickly. Further, the concept of the software is now licensed or granted to an individual from a named perspective.
So when that end user logs into the software logs into the platform, there's a ton of services that come on top of the applications that you're used to using. And how do you and your team come up with new products you mentioned with the Creative Cloud subscription that people are constantly receiving updates. But how about something brand spanking new? How does the process work? It's happening all the time. We have groups of researchers working with the general public, working with our consumers, working with businesses, working with universities to figure out what that next great thing is, whether it's a great big giant application or whether it's a particular feature that will be incorporated into an application. An we are often working on things that never make it to market. Quite often though we will demonstrate some of those at at an event during our annual Creative Conference.
Well, actually we have two conferences every year-- Digital Summit, which is going on this very week, which is geared toward marketers and businesses and Adobe Max, which is geared more towards the creative audience, and that's in the fall. And each one of those has an event that we called sneaks where engineers and product managers and others, will get up in front of the audience and give a peek in on some of the very interesting things that R&D is working on. Some of them make it to market, some of them don't. These
days so many people are working from home and students are attending class remotely. Obviously we're hoping this is soon going to be a distant memory, but with respect to Adobe with so many people working at home, has this been a net positive, neutral or perhaps even a negative for your company? Absolute net positive. This year in the remote world that we're living in has demonstrated the need for creative tools to communicate #1, and #2 for the whole concept of the cloud connection.
So end users and businesses can collaborate from a creative perspective. Steve, what keeps you up at night mostly about your relationships with universities? And if you had a crystal ball and could predict the next 5 or 10 years with 100% success, what does that look like? 100% success? Yeah. 100% success would be communicating to university leaders and having that light bulb go off in their head realizing that regardless of the students they are graduating they need to have a creative component in their curriculum and they need to be good communicators. If I'm successful in that, if Adobe is successful in that everything else will come into play. Steve: Thank you very much.
Thank you Greg, I appreciate that. Stephen Hart, a senior customer success manager with Adobe. Are you a problem solver? Do you see the big picture and the small details? Want to turn big data into big decisions? Take AI to the boardroom? Translate rocket science into the science of business? Build your careers at digital speed with a Master's of Science in business analytics. Be ready for careers like analytics consulting, designed analytics. strategy data. Translate AI, analytical business and ten months and you're in business analytics. Mark Spencer is a creative guy. After all,
how many video editors do you know who are equally fluent in Porter's 5 forces and elasticity of demand? Yes, he has his MBA. He currently is president of Day Street Productions, which produces corporate and industrial videos and is also a creative partner with Ripple training, a tutorial, and plug-in company. Mark: Welcome to The Language of Business. Thank you very much, Gregory. Really happy to be here.
You received your MBA from Wharton, an started off as a CFO in the financial world. How did you then pivot into video production and editing? Yeah, that was that was a bit of a shift, wasn't it? I wanted to do something else. I wasn't really interested in a bigger company and always had a background and fascination with photography and filmmaking, but I didn't think filmmaking was something I could ever really do because of all of the technical requirements. But Final Cut Pro came out in 1999, the original version. And that really changed my life.
I saw that and I got excited about it. All of a sudden you could edit on a computer for a $1,000 piece of software instead of $50,000 for like, you know, Avid. And so I started dabbling in that while I was still in my existing role in my company.
But over time I began to do more and more on the video side so that eventually I was able to shift it to consulting. Basically in the high tech field, while I continued to build a video business, at the same time. On the subject of YouTube, you're currently up to over 80,000 subscribers. First of all, congratulations. Second, how long does something like that take to accomplish? It takes a long time.
We've had a YouTube channel seriously actively about 5-6 years. Something like that, and I wish we had done it a few years before. Then we were dabbling in it. We've actually been doing a weekly series called Macbreak Studios of video for 10 years. Now we have well over 500 episodes, but we really didn't push that in terms of our own channel until about five or six years ago.
So it's a long slog to kind of build that audience and you've just got to be constantly having new content and constantly be interacting. You know, you've got to be watching the content, watching the comments, responding to the comments in order to build that up. You know, just in terms of folks who want to get into it. That is sort of realize it's, it's a big commitment to really try to build a channel and build a brand in that space. Why do you currently focus so much on Final Cut Pro and Motion as opposed to products from Adobe or Black Magic or Avid? Yeah, it's a good question. I would say for me personally it these are the tools that I use and I think it's sort of the same with Steve and Ripple Training.
We've done some Adobe training in the past, but the bulk of our training is really going to focus on the tools that we're using most of the time everyday, which is a combination of Final Cut Pro and Motion, and DaVinci Resolve. Where do you see the industry going in the next five years? You've been at this for over 10 years and I'm sure have seen your share of software products come and go. What do you think is going to happen next? A couple of things. Lower prices of everything, lower cost of entry for everything so you can get, you know, amazingly powerful software. Even like, you know, Final Cut Pro is $300.
But over these 10 years if you bought it 10 years ago for $300 you've had, I think at least 20 upgrades for no charge. Also with the camera side you can buy fantastic cameras that shoot great quality for lower, lower prices and I think that's going to continue. It's kind of funny because access is getting to be less and less of a problem, but you still need to know what you're doing. Even though the tools are getting easier to use on the software and hardware side, things are... everything
is getting easier to use. There's still a lot to digest and learn on both the production side with lighting and sound and camera movement and on the post side between editing and color correction and sound design and tightly in motion graphics and visual effects. Or just it's a very big field and so I think they'll, they'll always be a place for for teaching people how to tell stories. Mark: There is a dizzying amount of information out there. If somebody puts Premiere or Rush on their phones, they go down the Adobe path.
If they're going to be working with Black Magic, they're going to the DaVinci route, or possibly with Avid Technologies and their software products. For someone just starting out, what is your advice to just get going? My first piece of advice is to focus on storytelling and not on gear or the hardware or software side. It's really easy to get drawn into all these YouTube videos or reviewing and wanting to buy the latest whatever, thinking that's going to make your life easier.
But the most important thing is having a compelling story to tell, but once you get into it, you get it with a phone and iMovie, which is essentially free if you already own the phone and you've got a movie! You've got a computer, and then as you get better at it, you can start to move up. So with iMovie you can bring everything in iMovie into Final Cut Pro 10. It will all appear exactly the way it did iMovie with all the color correction you did, all the editing of the transitions or the titling... whatever. So it's a very natural path to go. Mark:
Thank you very much. Mark Spencer, president of Day Street Productions, and Creative Partner with Ripple training. Big choices after college, right? Grad school maybe? Soar from your undergraduate major to a great career in business, biomedical engineer to healthcare analyst, health science to clinical systems analyst, mechanical engineer to solutions engineer. Before you know it, you can have a Master's degree in management studies... nine months
and you're in business. We're on location virtually with the CEO and Founder of Stupid Raisins, an as he puts it, "Chief Raisin Hater." Welcome Dylan Higginbotham to The Language of Business. Hey, thanks for having me. How did you come up with the name Stupid Raisins for a video production company? It's a great question, and that's usually the first question people ask.
But when I was starting the company I was trying to come up with all sorts of business name ideas. I wanted something different because so many people were putting VFX or FX in their names and I didn't want to be like them. I wanted to be different and I hate when you reach for a chocolate chip cookie, and after biting it, it's an oatmeal Raisin.
I'm like 'stupid raisins!' Every one of your plug-ins for Final Cut Pro has the name 'pop' in it. Why do they all use the same name? I wanted the products to kind of describe what they do so our plug-ins are titles or effects. They take somebody's video or their project and they bring it up a level in professionalism. They really pop your video to the next level and so I just put a little pop on the end of it and that's a great way to also brand and differentiate all of our products from who everybody else is. Now you concentrate primarily on Final Cut Pro.
Why not DaVinci? Why not Adobe? Why not something else? I've always thought Final Cut Pro is the way video editing should be. It's simple to understand. It's easy to use, it's very accessible, and so I decided from the very beginning that I was going to just focus on Final Cut.
And how do you come up with ideas for future plug-ins? A lot of times our customers-- they'll write in or will email me and they'll say: "Hey, I've got this problem. Can you help me solve it? Can you help me fix it?" For example, a customer few months ago told me he needs a timeline plug-in to make cool looking timelines on the video and so we met with him and we chatted and we discussed what he what he would see in it, what he needs in it and we've been building it so "Timeline Pop" will probably come out in the next few weeks. And in general, what is the time frame from an idea to them actually putting it on FX factory or your site for sale? So when it was just me that took like 3 months... it was so slow and took forever. But now with my team we've got it down to about 30 days. And of those 30 days, how much of it is building or composing vs testing? I would say...
so we've got design-- usually takes about a week, maybe 10 days-- and then animation comes after that. And that takes about 20 days in total to animate but that can start right after design. So if we have one design then the animator can start on that right away. So that kind of overlaps-- that production stage-- and then testing takes probably about 10 days.
And then how often do you come up with, say, versions two or three? Well, it really depends. If a plug-in is very successful and people love, we will usually update that one, will create some new designs and maybe add functionality to it and features... that kind of thing. But if a plug-in is kind of a dud, people aren't buying a lot of it then it usually won't get updated. And how exactly do determine if something is a dud? Is it based on straight sales, social media postings, or something else? Help our viewers to understand that aspect please.
Yeah. The way I tell if it's a dud or not is first off sales. Sales speaks so well if they took. That tells us is this helpful to someone. If it's not selling most likely it's not helpful.
It's not... It's not doing anybody any good. It's not a tool they want to add and then we combine that with feedback: "What are customers saying? Are they emailing us and saying, hey, this would be great if you change this?" Or are they emailing us and saying: "This is no different from another plug-in." Why? Why should I buy from you? So it's kind of a mixture of sales and customer feedback to decide if we want to update a plug-in.
And how about your weekly email? Some of them directly relate to a plug-in or others are just special interest stories. Who comes up with them? Who writes them, and who sends them out? Yeah. That's your talking about our Friday 5 email. I actually got the idea from Tim Ferriss.
He does an email, too, where he sends out five things that he likes, he likes or finds interesting to his email list. And so I applied that to Stupid Raisins and so a lot of times those are just helpful articles on video editing and then other times there are funny videos to make people laugh or smile. What I do is I go through and I find five things that I found interesting or useful or funny. And then I just share it with our email list. And
what keeps you up at night about Stupid Raisins? That's a good one. I want Stupid Raisins to become a true business that can run on its own. That doesn't depend just on me. And so I'm in that process right now, creating it to be something that can be bigger than me and grow beyond me. And so I'm constantly thinking of ways to make that happen. Things that need to be in place in order for that to happen, and so that's probably what keeps me up at night is is getting Stupid Raisins to become a true business, that doesn't depend on any one person.
Dylan: Thank you very much. Dylan Higginbotham, founder and CEO and self described "Chief Raisin Hater" of Stupid Raisins. Are you a problem solver? Do you see the big picture and the small details? Want to turn big data into big decisions? Take AI to the boardroom? Translate rocket science into the science of business? Fill your careers at digital speed with a Master's of Science in business analytics. Be ready for careers like analytics consulting, designed analytics, strategy data. Translate the AI analytical business and ten months and you're in business analytics. How popular are you going to be with your coworkers if your job description is to break everything they build? We're on location with Dustin Danesi, who is the Chief Content Creation Wizard based out of Philadelphia.
With Stupid Raisins. Welcome to The Language of Business. Hey, thank you so much. It's great to be here. Yeah yeah, my coworkers love me even though it's my job to make their job harder. I can tell you that much.
And how do you go about testing it? Is it the same, or are some plug-ins more unique than others? How does that all work? Sure, yeah, so each plug-in really creates its own set of testing criteria, right transitions, titles. effects... they all require different things to happen with the media beneath them or going along with them, but at the end of the day, I just try to break everything, right? So I push our stuff to its limits. Yeah, I change the durations. I change every parameter I make stuff look ugly, right? I just want to make sure if one of our customers takes each and every parameter-- so the things you can change in the plug-in-- and really messes them up and changes that makes it look exactly the way they want that they still work. And how do you stay current normally with testing but with respect to your own knowledge? I like watching YouTube videos.
I love editing. I love using plug-ins so it's really easy for me to keep up to date. So I just I love tinkering with other people's stuff, you know.
So let me give you a hypothetical: You've tested the heck out of a certain plug-in, you've looked at it from different angles and it's working well and all of the sudden somebody emails you out of the blue that it's broken. How do you determine whether they're pressing the wrong buttons, their computer isn't functioning correctly, perhaps one of their pieces of software has been corrupted. Right. That's a great question, because that is the main thing I have to determine when dealing with our customers. You know, it's just like-- like any tech IT person is going to tell you to shut down, reinstall.
That's like 90% of what I do. To like reinstall FX factory reinstall the plugins, restart the computer. And I just had one today who is like 'Oh my God it works!," and like I told you it, sometimes, it's just that easy.
Has there ever been a tech problem that you've been unable to fix with your team? So not with my team, we've always been able to fix true issues, right? 'Cause you know, I love testing and I think I'm really good at it, But I'm a human right? I'm not a robot. I'm going to miss some things so when customers come and there's like legit things, we miss spelling errors and stuff. We're always good with, been able to fix them, but recently I've been dealing with the customer in an Eastern European country. I forget what it was and with one of our plug-ins. He's having trouble exporting it to the broadcast standards of his country. I just tried trying to walk him through how we do it here and at the end of the day I think it was just his system and the standards for the TV company that he has to export this file to, and I felt bad.
I was like, you know, I'm sorry, but the the plug-in works an it's just as some miscommunication between him and his employer and I felt bad. In so many of your pitch and tutorial videos, you talk about loving cake. Is that true or is that something that's essentially a made for television like movie? I do love cake.
Dylan took that... Yeah, so we have a great copywriter too. She writes all of the promo videos and yeah there is truth and I love me some cake. So my carrot cake maybe. Yeah some cream cheese.
I think that'll be good. Hi, I'm a tester with Stupid Raisins. This plug-in is a piece of cake and. Man, do I love some cake.
Step one, drag and drop your title template. Step 2 add your own text. Step three, customize everything, colors, animation, frosting and-- Sorry I can't stop thinking about that cake-- Anyway, you're all done. Dustin: Thank you very much. You're very welcome, thanks for having me, it's been fantastic. Dustin Danesi: Chief Content Creation Wizard for Stupid Raisins, based out of Philadelphia.
Support for The Language of Business is from Boston University, Questrom School of Business. We're also available as a podcast on Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play or wherever you get podcasts. Thanks for watching.