Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Just a matter of time ...

Back in the day, yours truly was a graphic designer who worked with letterpress typesetters designing corporate brochures and collateral as needs warrant. Letterpress is the tech Ben Franklin used to print newspapers whereby lead slugs were assembled, in reverse, to generate text and graphics for the publications Franklin produced in Philadelphia. The charm of letterpress was, and is, the tactile quality of the impressions made by the slugs when applying ink to the paper in question.

After letterpress, computerized phototype systems, using film to generate text, became the way we integrated type into mechanicals after speccing the type in question, something completely beyond the kin of young designers today who use InDesign, and other apps, to generate accurate & visual digital design sets to send to printers via PDFs, the universal document format used all over the world. :)

With this being said, the golden age of Hollywood is coming to a close as AI and computer graphics will change how tinseltown creates films forever.

Hollywood, which has mostly avoided the dislocations affecting the rest of the media industry, now faces its own moment of reckoning. Unlike journalism, where technology has decimated profit margins, Tinseltown is still living high on the hog, sustaining an entire ecosystem of agents and middlemen who do nothing, add little value, and get paid incredibly well for their services. That’s why trying to get a movie or TV show made in Hollywood is like watching a salmon swim upstream with a cinderblock hooked onto its dorsal fin. And it’s also why the current brouhaha between the unions and agents puts so much at stake in the industry.

If you don’t live in one of the most expensive ZIP codes in America, here’s a little recap of what’s going on. Last week, the Writers Guild of America required its members to fire agents who would not agree to a new code of conduct regarding the widespread use of packaging fees, wherein agents get paid by studios or networks, rather than taking a standard 10 percent commission tied to writers’ earnings, and thus are able to make more money than the writers themselves. On Wednesday, the union ramped up its battle with the major talent agencies, announcing a lawsuit against the four agencies that dominate Hollywood: WME, CAA, UTA, and ICM. (My colleague Joy Press has a great rundown here.) With numerous writers going without agents, the W.G.A. has created a new online submission system designed to replace some of their functions.

Note: it's just a matter of time regarding actors and directors as well as people really don't care about who makes film X, they care about the narrative. Something to think about in the age of emerging AI, right?

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