I bought my first macbook in 2002, and I think up until that point, it was probably the best day of my life.
As I started my Media Production degree it was the must-have item for creative students with any chance of graduating and, of course, winning a BAFTA. 15 years on, I run a busy and well-respected post-facility Green Rock, I’m creeping closer to that gold trophy (well, maybe)… but I will not necessarily be using Apple products as my tool of choice.
All those years ago, when watching Steve Jobs deliver his keynote talks, you knew that what he was about to unveil from a ‘cloak of secrecy’ was,
a) going to change the world, and
b) something you absolutely HAD to have.
The thing is, Apple products used to be something that would change your life for the better. Owning and using their hardware was a sign of a true creative, even more so than tight jeans and wearing shoes without socks . But it feels like a long time since the MAC v PC argument has been relevant now as we live in a multi-device, cloud based world. Indeed, being slave to any hardware eco-system today seems pointless, and a spate of disappointing new product releases made me realise how vulnerable I was having invested so much in Apple products.
The conscious uncoupling
Don’t get me wrong, Green Rock’s roots come from Apple and Final Cut Pro and I’m proud of that. But the challenge we faced in staying loyal to Apple when running a creative business is that we don’t have the foresight needed to stay ahead of the tech curve. That fateful day Apple brought out FCPX and everyone in the post-production community wailed “is this really it!?” Apple stayed silent, and I died a little inside. It was the start of a ‘conscious uncoupling’ for Green Rock and Apple. The once alluring ‘cloak of secrecy’ was now just frustrating for the continually curious. For us, we had to make some decisions. Like a lot of peers, it was continuing with our Avids, or moving to the newly promoted Adobe.
I’m not going to divert to a new debate over Avid v Adobe. The fact is they are both great bits of kit for professional editors. But as a forward thinking company that has an end-to-end production model, creating content for both broadcast and organisations existing in an always-on digital first world, we needed a partnering company that could support that every step of the way. For my money, Adobe are a more future-looking business.
As we unpicked ourselves from Final Cut Pro, it made me assess what I needed for the continued growth of my business. It’s not the product, it’s the relationship that is paramount. My frustration with Apple’s silence was contrasted with Adobe’s refreshingly open channels of communication. They share information and tell us plans for what is coming up so we can start experimenting. It’s pretty reassuring to run a business knowing that we can enjoy a relationship with a software giant who is always improving based on efficiency, not just on consumer trends and fashion.
A new mindset
As much as this sounds like a swansong to Adobe, I’m not going to lie; it’s not been easy. We have made significant changes to the business – including switching from Macs to PCs. This significant change allowed us to enjoy more powerful, reliable and flexible hardware for our needs. But these changes have improved us and also benefitted our clients as we are able to encourage and support in-house workflows that we can seamlessly pick up whenever we need to using the creative cloud. It has meant production managers are not worrying about ‘going in to post’ like it was a dark cave in Afghanistan, rather it is something that they can control and handover at their own convenience.
So whether it’s Mac, PC, android, iOS, – it doesn’t matter. That’s now a question of preference, not compatibility. For us, we are looking to the future of an integrated digital workflow, and already use BASE Media Cloud to securely back up our content every day. We also have broadcast projects on our slate that will involve shoots happening all around the world, uploading dailies to our cloud so that we can distribute to edits happening in London and in Miami using Adobe Team Projects. It’s the sort of flexible workflow I thought only available for Steven Spielberg – but it’s now more accessible than ever.
Looking back now, we’ve made a lot of change in a relatively short period of time and it underlines how fast our world is changing. But I don’t feel we’ve ever compromised, rather we’ve evolved a contemporary universal workflow, built around our clients. For our sins, we have used the buzz-word ‘always on’ to describe our company, but with the tools we have at our disposal, I think it’s an accurate description.
Simon Green, Green Rock CEO