TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Moviemaker
Volume Number:10
Issue Number:10
Column Tag:Inside info

Think Like a Moviemaker

You may have a roster that really does look like movie credits

By Chris Espinosa, Apple Computer, MacTech Magazine Regular Contributor

If your development shop is more than just yourself, you probably have some separation of function among the people working on a project. Usually there’s a separation between development and testing; if you’re big enough, documentation is a third branch. Some organizations last a long time without really breaking the organization up into more parts than this.

But as your development team gets bigger, you may need to break the developers into teams. Often one team is set to work on the core technology and another on the interface, or one team does user interface work and another does system-level stuff. If your project gets very large, you may have more than two teams working on different modules of the project.

And everybody knows that as you increase the number of teams, the development time increases geometrically, because of the added burden of communicating among the teams. This stage of growth can be fatal for small companies. Things stop working like they used to. The kind of easy collaboration that happened over cubicle walls doesn’t happen from hall to hall, or building to building.

And unless carefully managed, the teams can go in different directions, duplicate each others’ work, or leave holes in the product big enough for competitors to drive through.

And nobody’s making it simpler for you. With each year the requirements on you go up: you need experts in cross-platform development, better user interface designers, and multimedia mavens to keep up with new technologies and user demands. At some point the credits in the About... box start looking like the credits at the end of a movie.

Take a cue from that. Movies are pretty complex creative processes, taking dozens of people months or years to create. And while the analogy breaks down pretty easily (a bug in a movie doesn’t generate tech support calls, for example), there’s a lot to be learned from the way a studio organizes a movie production.

And I’m not talking about big-budget epics here. Thousands of made-for-TV movies, direct-to-rental releases, and minor studio pictures are made each year, and there’s a lot of consistency in the way they’re put together from studio to studio.

First of all, somebody’s in charge: there’s a producer responsible for bringing it to market and managing the investment, and a director responsible for the creativity and quality of the picture, and managing the people. The director may work on only one picture at a time. How different this is from a software company of moderate size! In such companies, people probably report up through functional organizations that work across products, and there’s no equivalent of a “producer” until you get to a division VP, who doesn’t have enough personal involvement to make authoritative decisions. To correct this, you may have a project leader to function as a “director,” but without the management authority to tell people what to do.

Next (and most distressing for people who want job security in high-tech): most people who work on a picture are independent contractors. There was a time when actors, directors, and cinematographers were firmly attached to one studio, but nowadays they float from studio to studio, picture to picture. Even sequels and serials are made by different teams of people. This is easy in Hollywood, where tools, equipment, and raw materials are pretty much the same from job to job. The training time currently needed to learn and understand a large body of C++ source code puts a damper on hiring journeymen programmers for a specific job, and the desire to not have your trade secrets go to the competition is a reason to keep your engineers around.

But I predict that over time that will change, as less and less coding is required to develop saleable software, and more and more the job of creating applications becomes one of fitting new components into an existing structure, or redefining the relationships among components. This is already happening in other areas of technology (like VLSI design, where designers rarely work at the gate level, much less the transistor); that software programmers still write code a line at a time is as crazy as trying to make movies with a still camera.

So in the organization of an application team, you may have a roster that really does look like movie credits: a producer and a director; a couple of assistant producers and directors to manage the relationship with the platform vendor; an overall architect (like a scriptwriter) and a few lead programmers (the lead actors); a supporting cast of programmers and testers, brought in for the job; an interface stylist, a sound editor, a technical crew doing tools and integration; and of course second unit to port the application to a different platform. After the project, the work gets filed in a good source repository, the leads may stay with you, but the majority of the team moves on to other studios and other jobs.

Next month: making the movie

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

WRIO Keyboard (Utilities)
WRIO Keyboard 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Utilities Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: 40% OFF DURING LIMITED INTRODUCTORY OFFER | Read more »
Hatoful Boyfriend (Games)
Hatoful Boyfriend 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: The hit PC game that everybirdie loves has now migrated to your mobile device! Now you are free to explore the wonders of St... | Read more »
Warp Shift (Games)
Warp Shift 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: [ CHECK YOUR HARDWARE: Warp Shift does NOT run on iPhone 4, iPad 1 and iPod touch 4G or older devices! It requires at least iOS8... | Read more »
Lifeline: Whiteout (Games)
Lifeline: Whiteout 1.0.2 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.2 (iTunes) Description: Alone in a frozen wasteland with no memory of how he got there, a lost adventurer’s only hope is his last line of... | Read more »
Castles of Mad King Ludwig (Games)
Castles of Mad King Ludwig 1.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $6.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
How to command and conquer in Raid HQ
Raid HQ is a satisfyingly deep base building game with over-the-top macho action and explosions. This little free to play bundle gives you a lot to do from managing a squad to building the most powerful base you possibly can. [Read more] | Read more »
How to build a successful civilisation i...
GodFinger 2 grants you godlike powers, leaving you to raise a civilization of followers. In the spirit of games like Black & White, the GodFinger games will see you building bigger and better villages, developing more advanced technology and... | Read more »
How to get all the crabs in Mr Crab 2
Mr. Crab 2 may look like a cutesy platformer for kids, but if you're the kind of person who likes to complete a game 100%, you'll soon realise that it's a tougher than a crustacean's shell. [Read more] | Read more »
How to be a star in Britney Spears: Amer...
If you've ever wanted to be a star, baby, then you've probably already checked out Britney Spears: American Dream and are happily making your way up the charts. But fame doesn't come easy, and everyone needs a helping hand sometimes. So we've got... | Read more »
AppSpy is hiring a part time Staff Write...
| Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Kanex Introduces GoPower USB-C Rechargeable B...
Kanex has announced its GoPower USB-C portable battery for the USB-C MacBook, featuring the new industry standard connector and cable used for connectivity and power. Providing users with a new... Read more
Convertible and Detachable Devices Winning Ov...
According to the latest figures published by International Data Corporation (IDC), Western European shipments of ultraslim convertibles and detachables posted positive growth (44.7%) to account for... Read more
New MacBook Pros And Will MacBook Air Be Upgr...
With my mid-2013 13-inch MacBook Air closing on its third anniversary come November, I’m in system upgrade mode. Actually the Haswell CPU equipped Air is still doing a fine job, but my good wife is... Read more
Apple’s Education discount saves up to $300 o...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad using Apple’s Education Store and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free, and... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999,...
B&H Photo has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
Apple refurbished iMacs available for up to $...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 21″ & 27″ iMacs available for up to $350 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. The following models are available: - 21″ 3.... Read more
Textkraft Professional Becomes A Mobile Produ...
The new update 4.1 of Textkraft Professional for the iPad comes with many new and updated features that will be particularly of interest to self-publishers of e-books. Highlights include import and... Read more
SnipNotes 2.0 – Intelligent note-taking for i...
Indie software developer Felix Lisczyk has announced the release and immediate availability of SnipNotes 2.0, the next major version of his productivity app for iOS devices and Apple Watch.... Read more
Pitch Clock – The Entrepreneur’s Wingman Laun...
Grand Rapids, Michigan based Skunk Tank has announced the release and immediate availability of Pitch Clock – The Entrepreneur’s Wingman 1.1, the company’s new business app available exclusively on... Read more
13-inch 2.9GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for...
B&H Photo has the 13″ 2.9GHz Retina MacBook Pro (model #MF841LL/A) on sale for $1599 including free shipping plus NY tax only. Their price is $200 off MSRP. Amazon also has the 13″ 3.9GHz Retina... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Nissan Service Technicians - Apple A...
Apple Automotive is one of the fastest growing dealer...and it shows. Consider making the switch to the Apple Automotive Group today! At Apple Automotive , Read more
ISCS *Apple* ID Site Support Engineer - APP...
…position, we are looking for an individual who has experience supporting customers with Apple ID issues and enjoys this area of support. This person should be Read more
Automotive Sales Consultant - Apple Ford Linc...
…you. The best candidates are smart, technologically savvy and are customer focused. Apple Ford Lincoln Apple Valley is different, because: $30,000 annual salary Read more
*Apple* Support Technician II - Worldventure...
…global, fast growing member based travel company, is currently sourcing for an Apple Support Technician II to be based in our Plano headquarters. WorldVentures is Read more
Restaurant Manager (Neighborhood Captain) - A...
…in every aspect of daily operation. WHY YOU'LL LIKE IT: You'll be the Big Apple . You'll solve problems. You'll get to show your ability to handle the stress and Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.