Over the last week, from watching two political struggle films and then videos on computational photography, I have evidence of the shortening window for business opportunities. It’s made me go back to my own drawing board to determine how I can work fast and smart as opportunities scream for attention, yet lie idle.

Case study 1 – two films that took up the opportunity

With TV turning more than ever into a propaganda machine I rarely turn it on. Over the last week I broke that habit. That was due to a friend’s recommendation that I watch the BBC-funded film Mangrove. In Oz you can stream it on ABC TV’s iView. Watching Mangrove set off a week of inspiring thoughts, all fed into this post.

Mangrove is the first in the Small Axe series of five films directed by Sir Steve McQueen. Mangrove’s casting is excellent, it has great music, tight and effective cinematography, and McQueen’s talent as a director and co-writer is only now self-evident to me. Half the film is set in London’s Old Bailey courtroom, as seen below.

Mangrove was conceived by McQueen in 2012, long before its first screening in 2020. Like certain consumer products, films and TV series have a life formed also by their reception by audiences and critics. Mangrove was widely praised and recognised for its quality. It arrive and was watched internationally, territory by territory, during the peak binge-watching era to date of 2020 to 2022.

Malcolm X, from the opening credits

Days after my viewing my friend and I raved about Mangrove. On his recommendation too, I binge-watched the first three episodes of Who Killed Malcolm X? (in Oz you stream it on SBS On Demand). It is a six episode US documentary. The story unravelling is masterful, unpredictable and rising in tension. I can’t wait to see the last three episodes when SBS streams them. If you’ve never heard about Malcolm X, search his name.

In Malcom X, the sound design for the music is original. It’s muted funk, combining African-American genres rendered at an almost subliminally low volume, and treated in software so it’s like superb elevator music filtering through a white noise generator.

But my highest praise goes to the opening credits graphic design (an example is below). Just wow. Old news is brought to life with pixelated news photos and news print, onto which appear credits in yellow text (which by the way is the most common colour used in videography text, yellow works). The opening images telegraphed the shifts back and forth throughout the doco between colour film interviews with contemporary figures and black and white images from the 50s and 60s.

The hunch about the opportunity

Mangrove and Who Killed Malcom X had an opportunity to voice stories rarely covered. Speaking to two friends today, a hunch arose as to the market circumstances that may have made that possible.

Source: https://backlinko.com/netflix-users

I suspect that between about 2018 and 2021 the rising streaming revenue of Netflix, Amazon and Apple prompted traditional media to respond by funding what they usually might have considered non-mainstream, even radical, stories.

If that’s so, that period in made for TV product may resemble the wonderful second half of the 1990s on the internet. It was well before the dot com catastrophe dominated by big end of town swindlers, and a generation before the turning point of 2010 when corporate interests began with Facebook et al to chew and swallowed the internet commons. How’s that? Listen to one of the first major investors in Facebook – Roger McNamee, author of the 2019 book – Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe.

That hunch channelled what I heard US filmmaker J. Horton say on the Film Courage channel on YouTube (hear him here). J. Horton said that the opportunity window has now closed, you can’t get into Amazon Prime what you could easily when the window was open. That is explained by the dip in streaming revenue as shown in the graphic to the right for Netflix.

Case study 2 – the computational photography opportunity

Facebook post by Scott Phillips in 2022

Turn now to computational photography. Its window of opportunity has been open for years and it may be about to be flung wide open.

For the Android platform, a 2018 article heralded the change. Under the umbrella term of computational photography what users can do with smartphone cameras (for years the new ones have more than one), include image deblurring, merging images taken at different light levels or moments in time and other image enhancements. Ahead are potentially even more radical image modification.

In the last 24 hours I’ve seen two videos released on YouTube photography-focused channels. Watching them I recalled what I’ve read and personally heard Scott Phillips saying for months in his Facebook and LinkedIn feed about the Dall-E 2 software program.

As an early adopter of Dall-E 2, Scott alerted me to what it can do for images. Scott has legal and software competency, we’ve worked together. He shared the lead image (with six inventive images) which I’ve used for this post. They are computer-generated images, not photos. They were made by Dall-E 2 on text instructions by Google Research’s Imagen. Dall-E 2 takes text instructions (see the text under each image above), then scours the internet and computationally responds with a manufactured image responding to the text instructions.

With Dall-E 2 I’m reminded of the Arthur C. Clark quote below.

From two videos heard in the last 24 hours (here and here) my hunch is that the Dale-E 2 functionality may be brought to your pocket phone – soon – as a further step in the evolution of computational photography. I have an iPhone 11, my prior one was an iPhone 6s. The capability of iPhone X involved a big jump. What’s possible for photography in the 11, 12 and 13 were incremental improvements. It may be that a steep shift upward is ahead. That’s the message I’ve received in the last 24 hours. From the second linked video in this paragraph, below is an image apparently created with Android photography functionality in the pipeline.

Your and my personal reflections

My experiences this week makes me reflect on what opportunity I presently have before me in life and work. What time I am wasting or opportunity I’m allowing to pass by.

As an intellectual property and commercial law lawyer it is my unhappy job to be usually referred client work when an opportunity has gone sour for the client. This week that turning sour moment has involved a client in its adoption of a business name with no prior legal advice; and a business transaction going off the rails for another client that acted fast but not smartly. Established clients tend to call or email me first. Both of this week’s clients are new or newish clients, which faced opportunity, and made decisions. Now they have to defend their positions with legal advice. Fast is good. Fast and smart is better.

Each of us needs to nurture each opportunity when it is sweet and crunchy, and to execute fast and smart, lest the taste turns sour and the opportunity is lost. With technology and the world wide web of information sharing and intellectual property copying, the windows of time for opportunity continue to shorten. What do you need to do to work fast and smart for your current opportunities?

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Noric Dilanchian
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