Wow. Astute and Heartstring pulling. Bravo.

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Wow. Astute and Heartstring pulling. Bravo.

Postby AADX » 11 Nov 2009 11:55

From org thread & post :
http://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?sho ... t&p=465651

crazycomposer wrote:An issue that seems to be overlooked, save for by those who are doing the actual work, is the question of the inherent value - oft underestimated - of creativity. I've now read several posts in which creative endeavours are ascribed arbitrary 'rates' that are based on what a 'fair' wage would be, assuming that the creative act is completed within a set framework of time, of course, and that the act does not require anything other than 'time' (you know, things like specialized skills in the production of 3D graphics, graphic design, general design, and any number of other things that I can't think of for the simple reason that I'm a composer and writer, NOT a 3D cockpit designer).

Coming from my background as a fellow creative there has always been something that I've been able to appreciate in the work of others: the investment of time and person that has gone into a project. I always appreciate the works of Mid7night, for example, because of what he includes in his remarks: "As with all my projects, HUGE thanks must go first to my wife Natalie for putting up with me during this - I couldn't do it without her. :-)" Here is a man who understands the commitment that creativity involves - and who wants to keep his marriage safe - he realizes that being creative is often tied to what is referred to an imperative rather than a desire, we are often driven to be creative; it is not at all like 'going to work' and punching a time card at an ordinary job.

What people do not necessarily understand about the creative process, aside from the fact that it can, at times, be an incredibly isolating and lonely pursuit as we seek that perfection that mocks us in its elusiveness. It does not matter what the individual is working on; be it an acf with a 3D cockpit, a revision of the universal theory of everything, or a string quintet, creating something out of nothing may not be a task requiring physical exertion but it is as exhausting a pursuit that you can imagine as your mind taps every possible resource in order to produce the best piece or whatnot - the outcome is ultimately the fruit of your mind, not your brawn, but how can you put a price to this work?

Measuring the value of something by the time involved in its creation is tenuous at best for the simple reason that it does not take into consideration the background knowledge and experience needed for the individual to be able to complete the task at hand. For example - I shall use music as my examples as it is my field ... but the examples should be easy to apply to this discussion without difficulty - if you look at the realm of composition you can get an excellent idea of what I am talking about. If I am asked to compose a 'short' string quartet (two violins, one viola and one 'cello) of say, five minutes, and know that the piece will be performed in a live concert that will be recorded (not for a commercial recording, simply for posterity - providing me with an excellent digital recording), and it will be broadcast on radio - and subsequently performed in several other concerts by the same ensemble, the fee that I would be able to charge for the piece would STILL rely on the formula worked out by the Canadian League of Composers (only a suggestion), would still work out to $475/minute of music (designated by the size of the ensemble), for a total of $2375.

Of course, I would receive some very nice royalties for the performances ($60 for the concert, about $150 for the broadcast ... get the idea?), but that would hardly make the composition a 'blockbuster' compared to how much time and energy goes into the creation of said work. I used the idea of a five minute piece only because it is a length of time that people are able to relate to - for the most part my pieces are longer - usually between 8-15 minutes in length, and longer - but - if you are commissioned for a 5 minute piece and compose a 7 minute piece ... you only get paid for FIVE minutes.

Creativity, as a commodity, is barely respected by anyone save for other creatives. People do not seem to understand that the amount of personal investment that goes into a personal project cannot be quantified by something as banal as money. We will accept these comparisons and this sort of payment for the simple reason that it is the only thing that we have, and we need to live, but there is nobody that earns less for what they produce than the artist (and I am lumping all creatives into this category - with the exception of those who work for the uber-commercial operations and, as such, 'create' things on salaries and set rates, working for studios or whatnot, they are not trying to eek out an existence through freelance works, the sale of which is entirely dependent upon a fickle public whose tastes are often dictated by others without them even knowing).

Have you ever considered the amount of time and energy that goes into the creation of something? Well, I have - and I can tell you that what the creators of the 3D models, both free and payware, that we enjoy on X-Plane are giving so much more to the community than they can be possibly compensated with money. Have you an idea of what it takes, for example, to write a novel? Well, having written the majority of one (amongst other things that have been shelved for now), I can tell you that the amount of time and effort that went into composing one of my chamber pieces was at LEAST as much as the time and energy involved in writing a MAJOR literary work. Time, energy, and creative output is, after all, relative to that which is produced. We cannot appreciate the amount of time, energy, and talent that goes into the production of a quality 3D cockpit without experiencing such an endeavour for ourselves ... or we could step back and allow ourselves to appreciate without allowing ourselves the foolish impulse of immediately placing a price-tag on everything.

Several years ago I was commissioned to make an orchestration of a piece for viola and orchestra. What this entailed was taking the piano part and arranging it - recomposing it in many ways - for full orchestra. The piece was about 10 minutes long and very challenging, but it was supposed to be performed at 'The Proms' in London, England. How could I pass up such an opportunity? Six months of work from beginning to end - including the production of the final score and parts for the orchestra and everything was done. This also included two trips to visit the soloist when she came to Canada (I went from CYOW to CYYZ to meet with her and her manager, at my own expense each time). So - how much was this job worth? You would think at least as much as the 5 minute string quartet, right ($2375 - by the way - that piece was only an example - it wasn't real)? Well, we had come up with the fee of $2500 - less than one FOURTH of what would ordinarily be charged for the simple reason that I live on a disability pension so, quite frankly, I take on projects that interest me and - Praise the Lord - I only work on things that I want to ... I don't work 'for the money' - I work for the work.

So, how long did it take for the manager to settle up the account? Well, the score was delivered in 2003 and, well, it has yet to be performed (even though the soloist almost wet herself over how much she loved the piece), and I have not seen one penny (not even the travel expenses for the THIRD trip, or for the copying costs involved in producing the score and parts [about $60]). If you ever thought that getting shtumped by a women sounded like a fun thing, forget it - been there - got the t-shirt.

So, how much would I have received for that work? $2500 sounds like a lot of money, but the project took me six months to complete (during which time I wrote several reviews of concerts - something I have since stopped doing, at least one other original composition, and the liner notes for a CD set that the soloist was releasing - the complete Bach cello suites on the viola) - so, how many hours did I work exclusively on the orchestration? Best estimates would be about 10 hours / week - some weeks were much more while some were less, so this is an average - that works out to 40h/month, for a total of 240 hours for the entire project. The most difficult, time intensive portion of the project, came at the end when I was working on the computer - editing my work and entering it into the engraving program that would produce the final performance score (software is called Finale, it is a professional music program). That means that the rate I was requesting averaged to about $10.42/hour.

Considering that I have charged anywhere from $20-$35/hour for teaching (classical guitar, guitar, music theory, history, counterpoint, analysis, and composition), that $10.42/hour is - in a word - an insult ... especially when you don't even receive it in the end.

Creative acts cannot be boiled down to 'per hour' rates - that simply does not take into consideration the wealth of knowledge that brought that individual to the point in time where they are now able to execute the task at hand. Many people, I know, write music - but not all of them are 'composers'. What's the difference? It all has to do with what is 'behind' (and so much more) the music. Getting a piece of software to generate something that sounds half way decent does not replace the knowledge that comes with the thousands of hours (yes - thousands) that went into the training that earned me my 'wings' - if music was measured in the same manner as piloting - by the hour - I could say, without any exaggeration, that I have over 10,000 hours on my main instrument (classical guitar) and over 10,950 as a composer. Creativity requires 'working' at the craft - that is why I am not seriously pursuing 3D design on my own - there are more than enough talented individuals out there, my amateur contributions would not elevate the field.

We must start looking at the creative works of others as something other than a thing with a monetary value ascribed to it for the simple reason that it devalues the object rather than adding to the value. The upcoming release of the CF-104 will be a perfect example given the complex nature of the 3D cockpit in the project. In my comments to Greg during the flight testing of the Beta1 and 2 I have indicated that this plane (in my opinion) has one of the best 3D cockpits ever to have been developed for the community - and that whatever price point the acf is set at, it will still be a bargain.

Unfortunately, how can Greg and the others at Classic Jet Simulation hope to earn anything commensurate with the time and effort that has gone into this project? Given what Brett said about the number of downloads, comments, and etc. for a freeware file it seems depressingly difficult to attract the attention of the community when it comes to serious add-ons for X-Plane. One of the serious problems for payware, of course, is the scourge of the bit torrents ... the napsters are still out there, just Google 'Payware addons for X-Plane' and you will find bittorrent downloads ... it is disgusting and I hope (if you download them) that you get a virus that requires you to purchase a new computer.

The CF-104 will not work if some jerk-o uploads the acf to a 'sharing' site - Greg has brilliantly solved this by doing something that I HOPE all payware designers (JASON CHANDLER - ARE YOU LISTENING - YOUR AIRCRAFT ARE BEING RIPPED OFF!!!) will adopt ASAP - he will require a registration of the aircraft.

Given the work that has gone into the project, I welcome this step - I APPLAUD this step - and if anyone complains about it, whines that 'it takes time for me, I can't fly it right away' - all I have to say is this: grow up and stop being so self-centered. This plane will not be sold for $100 - as it should - so suck it up, register the darn thing, and then be prepared to experience a fighter the likes of which has not been seen in X-Plane 9+.

So, what is creativity worth? If you consider the accumulated experience and education that I have, asking someone for $2500 for a five minute piece of music seems ... paltry ... and it is, especially if you consider the number of professional composition commissions that a composer will average in a year (we're talking LOW single digits, folks ... try 4 and under usually - this ain't Hollywood), the rate becomes even more pathetic.

The quantification of creative output in terms of monetary amounts will never satisfy the time put into the project by the creatives, nor will it adequately demonstrate the 'true value' of what the consumer is purchasing when they look at the price. It is as though we have, as a society, lost the meaning of the words 'craftsmanship', 'handmade', 'well-wrought', and 'customized' in favour of 'inexpensively priced at ...'.

As my mother used to say, 'if you pay $1.99 for a pair of pants, you get a pair of pants worth $1.99.' Don't be surprised when the quality of a download is not 'up to standards': when people are unwilling to pay the prices (for payware) or quick to steal the work (by uploading to pirate sites - may their hard-drives seize up and be filled with the viruses of ages) of others rather than have people pay to experience the hard work that went into the creation of an acf, it amazes me that people like Jason Chandler are even willing to sell an aircraft for under $50 considering the number of pirated versions there are out there (and Heinz, and Verticopter ... may these maggots curl up into putrid scum and be jettisoned into the ether to be forever banished).

Ultimately, it isn't about the price or what one will be paid - or what one expects to receive once the project is completed - we do the work because we are creatives (a 'creative' - 'creatives' being the plural - is an individual answering the creative imperative - someone who, by definition of their being, must create) and, as such, we must do the work that is our calling. For some of us that means composing and writing (sometimes writing an essay on an X-Plane forum), for others, that means creating aircraft for X-plane - with spectacular 3D cockpits.

If we get paid, all the better.

CrazyComposer, over and out.
Here’s to the crazy ones. The rebels. The troublemakers. The ones who see things differently.
While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.
Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.
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Re: Wow. Astute and Heartstring pulling. Bravo.

Postby GlowWorm » 04 Mar 2010 16:56

Aloha,

I can't agree more with CrazyComposer, and left him a short note on xp.org.

AADX, I admire your passion and details of your design. Without having real world flying experience, I trust that the XP models that you create fly the same as their real counterparts.

Keep up the excellent work!
Aloha!,
. GlowWorm

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