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 century.

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.