Making Innovation an Advantage

HackSee this? This is a hack Ryan Summers developed for the CGI team working on the Dolby job. It’s a GPU cluster: a series of five $600 boxes that could soon disrupt the world of render farms. A standard motion graphics render farm has roughly 60 nodes, each with one processor and four cores, for a total of 240 cores. In contrast, each of these five GPU’s contains around 2500 cores. They don’t need cooling, they require far less power, and they’re infinitely scalable; all huge advantages over current render farm technology. GPU’s like this were developed by the gaming industry to process heavy math. Ryan’s repurposed them for our needs to generate more renders, quicker and cheaper

As an industry solution, these types of GPU’s are not entirely ready today, but in a few months, they could be. And that’s the point; until the industry generates software to catch up to these processor speeds, Digital Kitchen can leverage this technological advantage to make us more competitive in the marketplace. While others have lower cost margins based on how they’re structured, getting more done more quickly helps us to close that gap.

Innovative thinking like this doesn’t only relate to hardware. As technology reinvents itself on increasingly shorter cycles, all sorts of opportunities will become available to anyone paying attention. Most of us recognize we no longer need to build websites from scratch; we can customize existing platforms already coded for security and responsiveness. We no longer need to settle for a stock shot or set up our own second unit shoots; we can access a community of DP’s on something like https://genero.tv/ and get a bespoke shot reasonably quickly and for a fraction of the cost. Hacks like these won’t work for everything, but in the right situation, they lend DK a real advantage.

But that advantage relies on embracing change and innovation. As it does for any company. After all, it’s at the heart of no less than Steve Jobs’ famous mantra: stay hungry, stay foolish, stay curious.”

Let’s…

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So Steve Jobs Stumbled As He Introduced the New iPhone Yesterday…

Element 79 Chicago Advertising Dennis RynAll I can say is “welcome to my world.” The fact that intermittent wireless access interrupted his planned presentation just puts him in line with the rest of us who depend on technology to work 24/7.

As much as I love Cupertino design and think the iPhone is a fascinating little device, it’s basically a crappy phone.  It drops calls like a butterfingered juggler and the promise of 4G connectivity is laughable given it’s frustratingly sporadic 3G coverage.

Conventional wisdom says I should blame AT&T and truth be told, I do.  But I never felt right giving Apple a pass on this one.    Which is why I was cheered to see this piece written by Danish mobile consultant John Strand.  In it, he dares to tell the truth about this wildly popular device: it has barely over 1% of the total global mobile phone market.  As Strand points out, “there are more people with Polish passports in the world than iPhone users!”

Strand argues that the iPhone is a niche device.  And he’s right.  What’s interesting is how much sway it has in the media.  He compares it to Paris Hilton–he just doesn’t understand why it gets so much attention.  Given that most agencies regularly offer iPhone app ideas to clients, this information does give you pause.

As an advertising person, I’m particularly culpable for this misinformation.  We have all been so moved by it’s elegance, so enraptured by it’s digital life integration, so charmed by it’s apps, that we forgave far too many other sins.

Which is yet another reminder: never underestimate the power of coordinated, synchronized PR.

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By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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Anyone Wanna Talk about the iPad? Anyone?

If you watched the news during the late 80’s, perhaps you too wondered “Just when did pitbulls stop biting people?”  We seemed to go through a couple of months there when pitbulls were biting everything: tearing through titanium, ripping children out of nurseries and basically behaving like canine Nazis.

Then, as quickly as the stories started, they stopped and we went on to other lasting things like acid washed jeans and Yahoo Serious.  The ugly truth was this ‘story’ was part of a coordinated PR effort to draw more attention to the American Humane Society.  Unfortunately, it resulted in character assassination for a notably courageous. loyal and yes, loving breed.

But that’s the nature of PR and trends: they burn hot and furious, then die to be replaced by a new flame.  And maybe that explains why it seems like no one is talking about the iPad anymore.  Two or three weeks ago, you couldn’t get away from the thing; every blog, news story, and tweet breathlessly reported some new aspect of this technology that was going to change the way we did, well, everything.

Eventually, cooler heads considered it and asked “1 GB of memory?”  “No camera?”  More damningly, despite Steve Jobs’ bluster about how “Flash sucks,” essentially all web video uses Flash, so without that capability, the iPad will be severely hampered as a web surfing tool.

Yes, someday it will create a viable new category between laptop and smart phone.  Maybe even a version or two from now.  But more likely, much like the Newton eventually begat the iPhone, the iPad will inevitably beget something people actually want for more than two weeks.

You know, something that becomes a brand, not just a Google trend.

In a world where opinion enjoys a mass channel, brands need word of mouth that’s not just positive, but sustainable.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

Apple Moves Over Two Billion Apps In Eighteen Months

Picture 4According to a press release from Cupertino yesterday, Apple’s App Store delivers roughly 6.3 million downloads a day or a head spinning seventy-three apps per second.  You can now choose from over 85,000 programs, up over twenty thousand in the last two months alone.  All of this software serves the more than fifty million iPhones and iPod Touches in the market right now.  More importantly, it drives sales and differentiation for this smartphone platform.  The release quotes Steve Jobs as saying “The App Store has reinvented what you can do with a mobile handheld device, and our users are clearly loving it.”

While this is clearly a bit of sales-driving commentary, those words rang incredibly true for referring to my iPhone as ‘a mobile handheld device.’  It is mobile, it is handheld, and it is one remarkable device.  Unfortunately, it’s also a lousy phone.  It drops calls, it stumbles for minutes at a time as it searches for a 3G connection…but it does have those wonderful, engaging apps.  I have a modest thirty-five on my phone and use maybe four everyday, the rest very sporadically.  That’s not particularly surprising; it’s not like anyone really needs to constantly check movie times.

Still, there’s undeniable genius in this model; create a platform and open it up so that independent programmers can supply it with an endless variety of new and fascinating content, which insures the platform remains differentiated and vital in the world of smart phones.  Mr. Jobs clearly learned some things by watching how software developers flooded the open PC market with choices that his closed Mac system could never have.  And he leveraged that to insure the iPhone’s long term success.

Now if he will just let us pick our own carrier.  I can’t wait for a Cricket iPhone.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79