Storytelling for Success

Starting a company is a wild experience, but even from the very first event you go to, struggling to figure out how to start a business, there’s one big thing that separates the crowd. No, I don’t mean who’s wearing Google Glass and who isn’t. I mean how each person speaks.

Valuing A Company

I know the basics of finance (buy low, sell high), but the world of startup valuation and financing is a mystery to me. Recently, I took a seminar entitled “Startup Finance: Valuation” from Startup Saturdays that was really great! The absolute best part was the Q&A that happened between the students and instructor (I don’t have his name unfortunately), who absolutely knew his stuff and clearly has experience with this field. By the end, we understood why Snapchat is valued at $3.5 billion.

Stop Piracy Using Gamification

You might have noticed numerous websites “going dark” a few weeks ago to protest the anti-piracy bills, Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA). I seriously doubt that Google or Wikipedia have any desire to promote IP theft, but they did have valid issues about the way those bills implemented that IP protection and the unknown technical, economical, and socio-political ramifications. And when push comes to shove, people care more about uninterrupted Facebook access than they do about protecting a studio’s content, plus as we saw with the music industry, the people trying to protect their IP often come across as villains. We as an industry need to create a reason for people to care about stopping piracy. Gamification can provide that incentive.

DSLRU Lessons Learned

DSLRU logo


For a while now, I’ve been part of an educational photography site called DSLRU (DSLR University). It was essentially like the iTunes store for photographic learning material, having a mix of video, text, and downloadable content (like Photoshop actions). The main idea was that you’d own any content you purchased, unlike other subscription sites, and that the content would be available in low-cost chunks so that you could buy just what you wanted.

Unfortunately, we recently decided to shut the site down because we weren’t breaking even from it and didn’t see a viable way to increase our business. I wanted to share my experience in case anyone else finds it helpful.

Starting to Build the Arcticopter I

Tinning the wires on a Turnigy Plush 12A ESC

Tinning the wires on a Turnigy Plush 12A ESC

The past couple of weeks have been pretty busy, between finishing up on Cars 2 and getting things together for a trip to Bolivia, and I haven’t been flying as much as I’d like to. However, Mark and I started building our first quadcopter, dubbed the Arcticopter I, yesterday, and it’s pretty neat!

Sachtler Cine DSLR and RRS Plates

I’ve been looking into fluid heads for a long time, wanting to buy one for video work but not seeing much that I’m happy with. Ideally, I wanted a lightweight one that had an integrated flat base (to work with my existing tripods) and could accept my Really Right Stuff plates, which all my cameras have. Oh, I didn’t want to spend tons of money, either. I recently decided to buy the Sachtler Cine DSLR, and while it’s not perfect, I’m happy with my purchase.

First Flight

While I’ve been continuing to find time to practice with a flight sim, I decided that I wanted to try flying my Blade mCX2 for real. I have to say it was a lot of fun and easier than the TRex 500 I’ve been using in the sim, but there were still a few gotchas.

Aerial Photography with RC Helicopters

I’m looking at heading to some remote regions of the planet in the near future, and I want to do some aerial shooting. Unfortunately, in one location, getting a helicopter costs $100,000 for a week, and a hot air balloon costs $50,000. That’s more than I can afford. Instead, I’ve started to look into using RC helicopters to do some aerial shooting. With wireless video downlinks (so that you can see what the camera sees) and features like GPS hold (which will cause the heli to hold itself exactly where you put it in the air), it seems like the time’s right to use these guys for serious work. I’ll try to post what I learn here, as there’s a lot of info out there!

Offsite Backup for Photographers

We photographers have a serious problem. We’re generating hundreds and hundreds of gigabytes of data (even more now that our DSLRs shoot video), data that represents hours of hard work, and yet it’s incredibly easy for us to lose our Aperture and Lightroom libraries if a drive goes bad. There are ways we can setup our main workstations to limit our potential data loss, but we really need good, offsite backup so that we don’t lose everything in case of fire or theft. However, most offsite backup services aren’t aimed at people with terabytes of data. After a lot of investigating and trial and error, I think I’ve finally found a great, offsite backup solution with Amazon S3.