Thoughts about Equipment Design
Problem solving can lead to solutions
after we learn the parameters of the problem: what do we want to do, what do
we know so far about doing it, what is available to solve the problem and where
do we search for answers? Unfortunately most industries, nations, and crews
tend to do things "the way it has always been done", and don't start over fresh
in their thinking. Their minds are cluttered with reasons why in the past things
couldn't be done or didn't work. Just look at what has been done in the last
Knowing that something HAS been done
is a very big step toward discovering HOW. Analyzing the problem is very important.
Just trying combinations of things at hand until something works can be wasteful
and not reach a solution.
There are many tools, methods and
gadgets from other industries that are often cheaper than what is found in the
film biz. Some film equipment suppliers don't want to jeopardize their sales
by looking for cheaper ways to do things. But from the user's viewpoint, saving
money on basic items like batteries and dollies can leave money to buy lenses,
magazines, filters, etc.
There is a good reason to use the
"right industry accepted tools". If they fail, YOU won't be held accountable.
You can blame the equipment. But if you bring something strange to the set from
another industry or a homemade rig and IT fails, then it's YOUR fault.
I have always thought on the way
home about how the shoot could have gone easier; how to get the camera steadier,
lower, higher, closer or set up faster. I made notes of what was done soon after
a shoot and what could have been done easier. This site if full of those solutions.
Making a prototype will illustrate many of the problems involved. Spend enough
time with your prototypes. Don't build a "Professional" model and apply for
a patent too soon. Share your ideas with others that can criticize and contribute.
Let them do a beta-test. Just trying to explain how something should work to
someone can help you solve problems.
I have found that telling a supplier
what you want to do can be helpful but also sometimes a mistake because it can
block their ingenuity. Doing a little research so that you speak a bit of their
industry's language helps to get people to spend the time with your request.
But don't sound like you know more than you really do.
Studying the devices of other industries
is very helpful. Catalogs are great. Patent searches can be fruitful. I have
found a lot of patents for the most ridiculous ideas granted by the GPO and
also some great solutions. Writing and applying for patents is a big business.
Few patent lawyers will tell you that your idea is stupid or already exists
and is not worth patenting. I think that the patent office is full of fellow
patent lawyers that make more work for their buddies writing patents. Few patents
go through the first time. Re-submissions are standard. You can get a patent
all by yourself. Try Nolo Press's Patent it Yourself and Patent To
Profit by Bob De Matteis.
© Copyright 1999-2004 Ron Dexter. All Rights Reserved.