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In the Pursuit of Creative Perfection, When Is It Enough?
Also: Selling A Wall, Vertical AI Videos, and Airdrop Farming Gone Wrong
Notably, they do what's called ‘coverage shots’.
It's also why they shoot movies the way they do now. Modern movies are shot "for coverage", meaning they get as many angles as possible so they always have something to cut away to when they have to remove something or add in a pickup shot later.
In order to accommodate potential modifications by studio execs or censors, they shoot broadly. In the pursuit of wanting creative control at a latter stage of the process (and to avoid mistakes), the film overall can risk becoming lifeless and un-opinionated. While it might seem smart to leave doors open for later editing, it also strikes me as potentially, artistically risk-averse.
It's interesting because I think it also points to a conundrum that every creator has faced. When is it enough? When is it too much? In the pursuit of creative perfection we sometimes inadvertently iron out the interesting creases of it.
There are days when you realised that a work should've been published already. Or, days when you curse yourself, realising there was more to be done.
As consumers, we've also experienced this from the other side. Some music, for example, is better when it's unpolished (like the disappointment at a too polished recording after seeing the band live). We sometimes enjoy it when there appears to be cracks: imperfections that allows us to see the creator through it, strengthening our connection to the work. Too perfect and we might stare at a lifeless and bland wall, separated from its context.
A recent documentary I watched, Unbreakable, was really great because in part it felt like it was a work of passion, with the unpolished parts of it (lugging actual cameras after the runners) added to the experience of it. If it was all stabilised gimbals and drone shots (like it would be today), it would take away a part of the rugged grit and playfulness of the story.
I don’t know how to answer whether we’ve done too much, but there’s a tool I’ve picked up that helps me get closer to realising when a work is enough and thus able to be launched into the waves of world: write and explain your work to an audience.
Doing this takes you out of the work into the intermediate layer: playing a tour guide to what you’ve done. Why did I write the code this way? Why did I put this instrument here? Why is this scene here? Why did the character choose to do this? etc.
I find that sometimes when we’ve been in our work for extended periods of time, we lose perspective and this process helps us to look at it broadly and in detail at the same time. Imagine being interviewed and you can’t explain why you did something a specific way?
I learned this again the hard way recently when I created a new generative art collection for a short story I produced.
I enjoy sharing the creative process, and when I wrote up the details behind the code after the art had already been published, I spotted a few questionable decisions and mistakes. I thought it was good enough and I let myself down. It didn’t live up to my own standards.
In other words, by explaining your work to an audience you are able to spot your own mistakes and inadvertent shortcuts you took. One variation of this that I discovered as well, is that when I hired voice narrators for written work, hearing them interpret it as if the story is being told an audience, I spotted mistakes I should’ve seen. Thus, when I write fiction now, I often try to inhabit the voice of a storyteller around a fire, regaling in the tale at hand. You are then both the creator and the interpreter.
The end result is a piece of work that can venture into the world on its own. It might not thrive, but it would be enough. The question of when it is too much still evades me. Somewhere there’s a line where when we do too much, we lose the soul of the work. Where is that? The fact that some modern blockbuster films do coverage shots… Is that too much?
Do you have any takes here as a creator? Would love to hear.
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The SAG Demands
It’s interesting to read the demands of SAG and AMPTP’s responses to it. For example, AMPTP outright rejected the idea that there should be revenue sharing agreements on streaming platforms.
One part of me kinda wishes that we should just actually go back to paying per media, and move away from bundling it into subscription services. There’s an inherent dilemma here, where the streamers hope to rake in more than what the people are actually consuming (same with music streaming). So, I get why they want to reject increased revenue sharing or residual payments. The business model is a bit hard to reconcile with this reality.
A big part of the problem, especially with shows being cancelled, is that consolidation of a studio into also being a distributor, leads to warped incentives. eg, Netflix can pay a team to make a film. Netflix owns all of it and then they can decide what to do. Disney+ cancelled a film like this, 7 weeks after launch. It’s actually one of the big reasons that past union battles existed: when studios also owned cinemas. Busting this open, broke a monopoly.
There’s a certain sense of irony that when AI is reasoned as a huge threat, that the internet gets swept up by humans acting like 2-dimensional bots and NPCs. The desire for there to be someone on the other side is still strong.
Really curious how this will all still unfold.
For Sale: A Wall
I really don’t get sometimes, the quirks of modern properties. A wall in Georgetown is up for sale. A literal wall.
Like, they try to explain it, but I still don’t get how it went from: “no one owns it” to, “well, someone owns a wall”.
When a rowhouse is torn down, occasionally a wall is left standing. Demising walls are partitions that separate one tenant space from another. Because this type of wall usually separates adjacent properties, there are instances where the wall is not owned by either property owner. And that was the scenario for the red wall in Georgetown.
In the early years of ownership, Allan Berger said that Perpetual Bank along M Street NW helped preserve the wall. As the years went by and the bank changed ownership several times, that arrangement went away.
When Berger inherited the wall following his father's death, he offered it to friends as a canvas for artistic murals. He also unsuccessfully attempted to sell the wall to the owner of the adjacent 30th Street home.
Either way. Quirks like this are really interesting. Cracks in our property rights system. Kinda reminds me of this Dunkin Donuts in Manhattan. By all accounts, it shouldn’t exist, but it does. The property is not owned by either side. That small alleyway IS the property.
If Tokyo still exists, no city should be struggling to build affordable housing. Here’s another great article on how it managed to keep pace with population growth.
It’s all about avoiding the possibility of local planning to exclude certain developments.
This paper argues that the recent wave of private investment in high-rise intensification has been instigated by these changes to building regulations, so that the form of urban restructuring and the distribution of winners and losers in the process are shaped by the central state, a reverse of the previous trend of decentralisation of planning powers.
This video actually goes into an interesting conflict with this.
HoA’s and Neighbourhood Associations exist, but they don’t actually have any power to stop people from doing what they want. But, they can strongly recommend you comply. Which sounds to me that it feels like a threat to exclude you and make your life hard if you don’t join in the harmony of the neighbourhood, which, probably, also only really works due to the culture in Japan. Either way, broadly, it works.
Vertical AI Videos
I’ve really enjoyed a set of videos where PhotoShop’s AI is used to in-fill films such that it looks like it’s shot vertically. It feels more real and I wonder whether it’s merely the fact that because we are used to vertical video being phone camera footage. There’s something alluring about them. Here’s two examples. Enjoy.
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The Other Side of Airdrop Farming
The co-founder of Dune Analytics apologised for joking about doing an airdrop. Dune Analytics is quite popular and provides ways to analyse all the data in Ethereum (eg, this one giving an overview of the NFT market). What’s been interesting, is that a lot of usage of apps in this ecosystem can come from people who use products merely in the anticipation of being potentially rewarded for doing so. I’ve written about this before.
This (retroactive airdrops) has interesting implications, especially when there’s compounding network effects: the more it happens, the more it will happen. The longer it goes, the more it will happen and the more opportunity there will be to reward past transactions. There’s a continuous reward system that incentivises more and more users to interact with protocols, not for a known speculative reward, but a hypothetical reward. It’s not akin to traditional speculation (buy something and hope it goes up), but rather a way to bet on any unknown futures. All becomes possible and to receive these future, hypothetical rewards, the sooner you interact, the better. The more traces you immutably record and leave behind, the more likely it could be that you could be rewarded.
This represents an inverse problem. While it helps to bootstrap new technology, users can farm engagement on new tools and technology without actually being interested in using it. This was/is the case with Dune, with the founders not anticipating doing any airdrops and thus getting frustrated with these farmers. Thus, they have to struggle with people engagement squatting the timeline, hoping that there’s some reward down the future. Definitely a unique conundrum, especially in the crypto space. It’s still bizarre to think that it makes rational sense to use this technology now for an unbounded future reward.
Don’t think you’d be able to avoid people wanting to stake their claims.
Christian Gabel - Videovåld
This week’s song is a lovely synth-esque electronica journey. Uplifting, driving track. Enjoy!
See you all next week. Enjoy a sunset!