Here at AV8, we sure do love Sketch Up! Who doesn’t love good software that’s free and helps you do fun and creative things.
We have learned that in today’s world of the “show-me” buyer, our sales executives are facing an ever informed customer. A customer who literally wants to see it from every angle. For that very reason we starting using 3D modeling to allows us to quickly and effectively show our clients what their displays will eventually look like. Here is a recent design concept which was eventually produced for a lucky buyer.
Once about a decade back I was sitting in a meeting with a financial services client of mine discussing security as it related to a digital signage project I was working on for them. I had been contracted through the marketing team and I spent little time thinking about anything beyond selling software seats for this digital signage platform I was well accustomed to working with. At the time, there were only a few good DS platforms on the market and the licensing costs were substantial and I made a very good living on selling software alone. The ability to do character generation without a full blown editing suite was pretty revolutionary, I was able to make some very nice animated content with a few tricks up my sleeve and accordingly, I garnered good money for my services.
Along came Flash and it was clear that websites were no longer static, rather websites were popping up with really crazy landing pages which took minutes to load but were pretty neat once they finally buffered and ran. For the time, there was enough boundary between my livelihood as a digital signage integrator and web developers for me to feel comfortable. That false sense of security was going to change before long.
So in 2014 at the ripe young age of 38 I found myself embarking on the second chapter in my professional career, as a web developer. The skills I gleaned in the years prior made the transition fairly simple, but learning a new language as an adult was no simple challenge. The need to stay abreast of current technologies was the impetus for this professional growth, and I can only help but wonder what lies in store for us in the next decade.
Back in 1997, I began working for an LED display manufacturer in the technical services division. We were working on making a new state of the art outdoor LED display, the resolution at the time was stunning by standards of the day. The LED clusters where on 50mm centers, and it did 16 bit color. This was really innovative stuff at that time….
As part of my training, I learned how to solder and repair PCBs and replace bad diodes. The repairs were carried out by hand and I could fix a board module in about 5 minutes on average. Over the course of the next 10 years I watched the pixel density increased significantly as the costs fell. 50mm was a long extinct dinosaur in 2007.
It wasn’t long until the advent of outdoor surface mount diode displays made the process of doing hand repairs exceedingly difficult to the point that I was no longer qualified to work on hardware with such tight tolerances. I too was now a dinosaur.
Fast forward another decade and I am stunned with the resolutions now achieved with both outdoor and indoor SMD LED technologies. As diode manufacturers have managed to package LEDs into exceeding small form factors, I cannot help but wonder where the technology will be in another 10 years. A recent 1.6mm LED project we completed with 1010 SMDs was truly stunning, I could not even believe that this was the natural progression of technology from the work I had done 20 years prior.
While I am doubtful I will still be actively working in R&D 20 years down the road, I can say that is such a wonderful experience to work with technology which has undergone such a transformative growth in such a short time span.
Admittedly, in my profession I am a hardware sort of a guy. First and foremost, I BUILD things.
It had been more than 15 years that I was working in the AV field before I had the opportunity to fully grasp the importance of content creation and how complementary it was to my vocation. I was always focused on making hardware decisions in order to give my clients the best technical offering, and I often left them to their own device when it can to post sale creative strategy.
During an out of town project installation I had the opportunity to have dinner with the head of a highly regarded agency. We were working for our mutual client in a collective effort and decided to treat ourselves to a nice meal to celebrate the successful completion of our work. My dinner date was quite the gastronome and insisted on treating me to a special meal at a place in NYC before I flew back to San Francisco the following day.
My friend suggested the tasting menu and instructed the sommelier that we would like to have a suggested wine pairing of his choice. He conversed with the sommelier in an unfamiliar dialect of “foodie”, a language which was greek to me as they spoke of the courses with colorful adjectives. In the end they settled on what the wine experience would entail and my host promised I would be amazed.
As expected, each course was better than the next. Over the course of the evening we talked about what our participation and preparation had been like in getting our work ready for our shared client. I had no idea the amount of time, effort and thought had gone into the creative content which went on the displays I built and for the first time I grasped that my work was only as good as the content which was displayed on it. I had always taken for granted the importance of the creative process, I just assumed that after I built my displays, the graphics magically appeared I guess.
The evening I had one of the best meals of my life. I also learned a valuable lesson in my professional career: like a good wine/meal pairing, the best AV installation is only as good as the creative it displays.