Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hollywood and Hidden Creativity

Update 10/11/11: In a timely piece of related information. Disney get's sued for patent infringement in regards to a way to create animation.

This is an article I wrote detailing the lack of Intellectual Property creativity in the film industry.

Discovering Intellectual Property Behind the Camera

The film industry is a business sector that is well acquainted with protection of intellectual property (IP). Unfortunately, that protection has historically focused on digital media rights, trademarks, and copyright and has overlooked the numerous other aspects of IP that offer potentially lucrative outcomes.

Having worked on several movies and seen firsthand the inventive and creative processes of not only the actors, but the crew on the set, I can say with some authority that there are inventions, trade secrets, and processes that are passing in and out of the soundstage door on every movie being made.

Even months before the first frames of “film” are shot (very few studios actually use real film these days; most film digitally), as well as throughout shooting, dozens of people are working in the background setting up the soundstage or location shots. In addition, there are people creating storyboards, costumes, and music. All of these skilled craftspeople, regardless of their title (be it Camera Operator, Construction Coordinator, Gaffer, or Costume Designer) are presented with unique challenges to meet the needs of the movie and the director’s vision of the script.

As the old adage goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” And given some of the challenges presented by creating an entertaining film, there is a great deal of need for invention in this process. While there are tried and true methods of filmcraft, as any industry, the unique challenges presented by making the words on a page come to life are unlike those of any other job. Let’s pretend for a moment you are given this piece of script:

1 Exterior Overhead Shot – Old Western City

A non-descript city circa 1845. We can see activity in the streets. Horses and people move about. The sunlight is not like anything on Earth.

Suddenly an explosion destroys one of the buildings; a chunk of iron flies towards the camera.

The task before you is daunting: Do you shoot this as a full city-sized mock-up, as a miniature model, or perhaps all as computer graphics? How do you get the metal to fly at the camera? How do you protect the camera? What sort of chemical mixture will you use for the explosion? What kind of lens filter should be used to create the sunlight?

Through that process of identifying and executing your task, comes invention. Perhaps you shoot the scene in miniature and insert the horses and people using computer graphics - all standard movie-making stuff. But perhaps you take a different approach to create the filter for the sunlight. Perhaps you go into your kitchen, grab some plastic wrap, color it with your kids’ finger paint, smear some oil on it, hang it from a bent coat hanger, and make sure the distance is exactly 4.5 inches from the camera lens. You very well may have just created a new type of lens filter and a new process for using such a filter; something you could recreate, sell, or license, and if the movie performed poorly at the box office, perhaps actually make more money from this lens filter invention than from the movie itself.

Sadly, such inventions are created all the time on movie sets, but given the massive time constraints on a film set and the crew’s lack of understanding of the invention process, such inventions are usually discarded after one use, or kept solely by the creator and never brought to market.

Movie studios, and even more specifically executive producers, need to be aware of the income potential from inventions being created by the crew on their film shoots. Creating a patent portfolio of techniques, structures, compositions, and devices could create a completely new stream of income to the studio through sale and/or licensing of IP.

There needs to be a way to capture on-set innovations created on the fly and bring them to the attention of someone specifically tasked with gathering and protecting these unique ideas. Even a basic one-paragraph description of the invention accompanied by some photographs (there should be plenty of cameras around…) should be sufficient for said person to bring to the studio in order to expand on the inventions and have proper invention disclosures created, or have any new trade secrets documented.

An Intellectual Property consulting company such as ipCapital Group ( , based in Williston Vermont, can be an exceptional asset to this process, whether through on-set participation as the point person for IP “harvesting,” or by helping to sort through the copious amounts of data being generated. ipCG has done this in other “IP-na├»ve” industries and can help anyone through the process.

I imagine once this neglected revenue stream is focused upon by one studio, then, just like other forms of IP already used in the industry (e.g. copyrights), all the studios will aggressively put in place processes for harvesting IP. The first studio to embrace the new culture of “IP on set, all the time” will be in a much stronger position within the entertainment industry than its competitors.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Thorium Nuclear Reactors

I had a nice lunch time discussion today regarding some of the needs for the State of Vermont. One item that came up was the need for reliable cheap power and that it was agreed that Thorium nuclear power plants (as I mentioned in my Shadow State of the Union speech) are a spot on solution for the state of Vermont.

One of these plants could be built in Newport and one of them could be be built where the existing Vermont Yankee plant is.

Below is a link to a great graphic detailing why these nuclear plants can be the future of America's energy needs.


Also here is a nice story from The Telegraph talking about Thorium Nuclear Power:

Thorium by the Telegraph

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Budget Compromise...A Total Crock of &$#@!

It's been a long time since I've blogged to you all, but something is happening that you really need to be aware of, and that's the continued hoodwinking over the Federal budget. You see our "leaders" clapping themselves on the back for cutting $38 Billion off the budget with the latest extension. This is NOTHING on a $4 trillion dollar budget.

Philip Greenspun a political blogger explains it oh so eloquently below.

News accounts on the latest federal budget deal gave the numbers in a vacuum, e.g., “The deal cuts $38 billion from last year’s budget. It’s being called the largest domestic spending cut in U.S. history” (source). How can an individual voter make sense of quantities that are ordinarily written in scientific notation? I think the easiest way is to divide everything by 100,000,000 (10^8).

Let’s start with federal spending. The FY 2011 federal budget is approximately $3.82 trillion (3.82×10^12). Of that, approximately $2.17 trillion will be paid for by taxes collected and the remaining $1.65 trillion will be borrowed from our grandchildren. If we divide everything by 100 million, the numbers begin to make more sense.

We have a family that is spending $38,200 per year. The family’s income is $21,700 per year. The family adds $16,500 in credit card debt every year in order to pay its bills. After a long and difficult debate among family members, keeping in mind that it was not going to be possible to borrow $16,500 every year forever, the parents and children agreed that a $380/year premium cable subscription could be terminated. So now the family will have to borrow only $16,120 per year.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

MY State of the Union Speech

Charles Root State of the Union Address

So Obama’s 2011 State of the Union Address was an hour of my life I can’t get back. So filled with lies it was, peppered with flip flop statements, stunning ignorance, and patriotism he obviously doesn’t believe in. In response I feel compelled to write my own address and tell you how, if we are to get this country back on track to prosperity and individual freedom, what needs to be done.


Ladies and Gentlemen of the Congress, Our Military Leaders, Mr. Vice President, Distinguished guest, the state of our union is, precarious.

We as a nation are facing a mounting fiscal debt that is non repayable! We have created an entire class of people with an entitlement mentality. We have stretch our military forces to the breaking point, and we have lost our ability to create consumables domestically.

In order to repair our country I am going to take the following immediate actions, and direct congress to facilitate the changes where their authority is required.

First I am eliminating several government agencies that have no constitutional right to exist and handle matters that should be decided by the states or are better handled by private industry. The EPA, The Department of Energy, The Department of Education, and NASA are but a few, the list will be scores long and fully disclosed tomorrow.

Second, we can no longer act as the policemen of the world. Effective immediately I will be recalling all soldiers, sailors and marines to American soil, and will begin the shutdown of all American military bases on foreign soil worldwide, this is to be completed within the next 180 days, with sale or return of foreign lands to their respective countries.

Third, Illegal immigration is a threat to our sovereignty. I will be mobilizing national guard forces to militarize the border between the United States and Mexico immediately. If need be after review we will also militarize the US – Canadian border. If you want to come to this country you will do so legally through a legal entry point. As for immigrants currently here illegally, we will be stepping up immigration enforcement, if you are here illegally and caught, you will be deported, including dependent children regardless of citizenship.

Forth, there will be a completely overhaul of the tax system. We will be going to a flat tax for all peoples and corporations. The first $45000 you make is yours to keep tax free. For every dollar afterward it will be taxed at 12%. There will be no deductions. In addition there will be a 1% sales tax initiated nationwide. Currently the US has the highest corporate tax in the world, this will make the US the 8th lowest. This will allow for substantial business growth, and job creation.

Fifth, we will be imposing tariffs on all imported goods, that are made in countries that do not allow their currency to fluctuate with the market, or do not have a minimum wage equal to that of the lowest state mandated wage. Currently Kansas at $7.25 an hour.

Sixth, If you receive government assistance but are able to work you will be given a list of available jobs nationwide. It will be your responsibility to acquire one of those jobs. If you need to move to another state, then you will need to do so. You will receive your salary plus government assistance equal to $45,000, but you will work a minimum of 30 hours a week.

Seventh, We are going remove the authority of the Central Bank and Reserve from setting any monetary policy, and over the next 12 months recouple our currency to physical metals.

Eighth, I will be making a list of items that are not in the preview of the Federal Government, and are entirely the responsibility of the states, for example universal healthcare, gun control, and abortion. Federal laws pertaining to these subjects will be put before congress for immediate repeal.

Ninth, We can no longer be dependent on foreign oil for our energy. We will undertake a substantial infrastructure creation of Thorium nuclear power plants and interior oil drilling.

Tenth, I will be directing the Interior Department to begin the sale of unused government lands to private citizens starting immediately.

I understand that these measures will be difficult. I understand that many government workers will be losing their jobs, but the number of jobs gained by these measures in the private sector will offset these loses. I know families may be ripped apart, but if you are a criminal you need to make things right. I know that other countries that have lived off our largess for decades will now need to fend for themselves. This is not our concern, but we are your friends and will be happy to advise you over these difficult transitions.

These ten points are only the beginning, in six months I will give another State of the Union speech outlining more measures, more government reduction, more repeal of federal laws.

We must never again allow our federal government to grow so large. To quote Ronald Reagan, government is not the solution to the problem, it is the problem. If we don't turn our backs on omnipotent government we risk returning to the same servitude that our forefathers fought to free us from 235 years ago.

My fellow Americans good night and God Bless.