Greg Maletic

Apple Rings and Watches

There is, undoubtedly, a lot of truth and clever insight in Craig Hockenberry’s piece, Wearing Apple. (Please read it; it’s definitely worth the time.)

But first, some issues I had with his argument about why a watch seems out-of-the-question.

The Competition

He notes:

…the companies that dominated the music player and mobile phone markets were making complete crap prior to Apple’s arrival. Granted, there are a lot of cheap and crappy watches on the market, but they’re not remotely interesting to the demographic that buys Apple products. And to many people, a fine timepiece is more about status than technology.

I’m not aware of many Apple users that wear “fine timepieces”. (Rolex is the only company that springs to my mind if I even try to think of companies that build fine timepieces. It’s possible it’s just me…but I live in a den of Apple users, and I don’t hear them talking about fine watches, either.)

I don’t see what would be wrong with Apple entering this market from a brand/status perspective. Apple would trample the existing players.

The Customer

Then, Hockenberry seems to argue against his own point:

Who is going to buy this wearable technology?

Trends are always set by the younger generation. Especially with clothing, jewelry and other items that appeal to a demographic with a lot of expendable income.

So Apple’s product needs to compete with high-quality, luxury brands…yet youth will define this market? I don’t see any of the younger generation wearing luxury watches, or watches of any sort.

The earlier point and this one can’t both be true. (For the record: it’s this one that’s true. Youth will define the market. Again, another reason why an Apple watch doesn’t seem out of the question to me.)

The Ring

Then I think he gets on track, in a big way:

The first step is to start looking at things from Apple’s point-of-view. I ask myself, “What problems can a wearable device solve?”

As I think about answers to that question, it leads me to the conclusion that Jony Ive and crew aren’t looking solely at the wrist. Wearable technology could take cues from other kinds of jewelry: rings and necklaces, for example.

I do agree that a ring is—conceptually—closer to what Apple will release than a watch. I’ve always envisioned Apple’s watch as having a minimal screen and almost no interactivity; a subordinate, an adjunct, to your phone, and certainly not the combination TV/GameBoy/mini-iPhone that people seem to think it will be.

But Hockenberry doesn’t mention something I think is important: an Apple ring is scarily close to a punchline.

Asking customers to wear a ring instead of a watch is a big deal. Now, it seems like it’s asking less. But really, it’s asking more; a lot more. Asking a non-ring-wearer to become a ring-wearer (and most male youth are not ring-wearers) is asking them to almost jump to a different demographic.

A ring is also more personal than a watch. Rings are to identify my marital status, my membership in a club (my high school class, my Super Bowl-winning team.) People feel close to Apple…but that close? By contrast, wearing a watch is…wearing a watch. No biggie. (For what it’s worth, in a different but not entirely dissimilar situation, Disney is asking people to wear a watch.)

I’d like an Apple ring. It satisfies exactly what I want from an Apple watch. But…it’s asking customers to make a big leap.


George Lucas comments on unfinished Episode VII script

General Cinema Feature Presentation

Re-creating the old General Cinema Bumper

General Cinema Feature Presentation

My friend Cabel had curious gaps in his movie knowledge. Gaping, er…gaps. He’d somehow missed Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Godfather, Saturday Night Fever, Alien, Rosemary’s Baby…you name it, he’d missed it. We decided to rectify the problem—partially—by kidnapping him, renting out a local theater, and forcing him to watch two movies he’d never seen, but needed to see. (The movies we picked? For reasons too numerous to mention: Goodfellas and Aliens.)

We had the movies; we needed some trailers, too, so we picked a very humorous trailer for Rocky (another flick he hadn’t seen), one for The Godfather, and another for The Terminator. (Hadn’t seen that either.) But that wasn’t all: I wanted authentic vintage bumpers to announce “Coming Attractions”, “Feature Presentation”…plus a special message for Cabel.

One of my clearest moviegoing memories as a child in the ’70s was the distinctive General Cinema opening bumper. There was only one half-way decent sample of it online, but its quality leaves something to be desired. Fortunately that clip has a pretty reasonable audio track—and wow, what an audio track!—so I used the audio and took this as the opportunity to fulfill a dream I’ve had for years, to re-create the video of the General Cinemas bumper. (I’m experienced with After Effects, but wanted learn Apple’s Motion. Verdict? It took a while to get the hang of it, but I won’t be going back to After Effects.)

Here’s the result. It’s not exactly like the original…but it is pretty close. Feel free to use it yourself. (There’s a Coming Attractions version, too. And here’s the all-blue version from the early 70s. Finally, here’s the humorous version we showed to Cabel during intermission.)

How was it done?  I made the background from a photo of a ruby I found on the web, run through Motion’s Kaleidoscope filter. I drew the projector, scrolling circles, and text in Illustrator. After that, Motion’s incredible “Bad Film” filter added scratches, jitter, and the like. (A secret: did you notice that the blue film projector graphic is comprised of the letters G-C-C, for General Cinema Corporation? Whoever designed that was brilliant.)

Oh, and by the way: if you like these bumpers and you live in the Portland area, you should come to our Match Cut Movie Club. The whole renting-the-theater-and-showing-surprise-movies thing bit us hard, and we’re going to be doing it once a quarter. I’m also taking it as my opportunity to go crazy with all my mid-century bumper motion graphics fantasies, so you’ll see lots more stuff in this style. Please come check it out! It’s lots of fun.

Corporate Logos at Disneyland

A great Disneyland postcard that I found on Flickr:

Lots of folks—non-fans, but even some die-hards—resent the corporate logos found at Disneyland. For me, as a kid, they totally legitimized the place.

Tomorrowland especially: as much as I admired the Walt Disney Company, who were they to say what was going to happen in the future? But Disney + Monsanto + GE + RCA + McDonnell Douglas, etc…there’s a vision I could trust.

TILT is on Netflix. But no, actually, it isn’t.

Two years ago, after enough prospective viewers had inquired about it, Netflix decided to start carrying my documentary, TILT: The Battle to Save Pinball on DVD. They purchased two hundred (!) copies, and I was thrilled: not only was the film going to be available to a lot more people; it also meant that TILT was now a real movie, in some sense on par with all the other real movies you see on Netflix. Like Lawrence of Arabia. Gone With The Wind. I’m going a little overboard here, but you get my drift.

Weeks later, TILT appeared on Netflix. I proudly put it in my queue, and moved it to the bottom. (Because let’s be real here, the last thing I need is another copy of TILT to watch.) Emails trickled in from people who watched it for the first time via Netflix, and loved it. Between this and the film’s availability on iTunes, things were great.

Things looked even better a month or two later when I noticed that TILT—still in my queue—was listed as “Availability: Unknown.” They had two hundred TILT DVDs, and they couldn’t keep them in stock?! Unbelievable! I wrote back to my Netflix contact: “Need more?”

“Nope,” he said. “Not enough demand, so we won’t send them out.”

Which patently makes no sense.

I followed up with him and, for some reason, couldn’t get a straight answer to the seemingly obvious question of why they wouldn’t mail out DVDs they already had. All his responses were in the vein of, “don’t you get it, your movie isn’t popular enough?” Which, of course, I get. The only information I did glean is that if enough people put TILT in their queue, they’ll start sending them out again.

So I’m asking a favor: put TILT in your Netflix queue. (It won’t actually go into your queue, it’ll go into that “Saved” no-man’s land at the bottom, with all the films as-yet-unreleased on DVD.) If enough people do this, hopefully those two hundred TILT DVDs sitting in Netflix’s warehouses will see the light of day again.

And thanks for your support.

P.S.: If you haven’t seen TILT and would like to: well, it should be obvious, don’t wait for Netflix. You can buy it on DVD, or buy or rent it on iTunes. (One quick plug for purchasing the DVD: you’ll get the brimming-over-with-content Extras DVD, which a lot of people like better than the film itself. You’ll also get my brilliant and insightful director’s commentary. And the deep pride of ownership that comes with possession of a finely-crafted piece of art. Okay, going overboard again, but anyway, feel free to watch it any way you’d like, just watch it!)

UPDATE: I’m told that if you only have the Netflix streaming plan, you can’t add a DVD to your queue. So in that case, we’re out of luck. But I appreciate the thought anyway.