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millimeter's The Briefing Room

Dream Job: Distance Medicine

Offering your clients printed output to check the look of 3D models--something once reserved for high-end animation houses--can now be had for an average cost of $50 to $150, according to Netherlands-based Shapeways. Users download easy-to-use 3D software or send output from programs such as Autodesk 3ds Max, with results returned within 10 days.

Offering your clients printed output to check the look of 3D models—something once reserved for high-end animation houses—can now be had for an average cost of $50 to $150, according to Netherlands-based Shapeways. Users download easy-to-use 3D software or send output from programs such as Autodesk 3ds Max, with results returned within 10 days.
Photo: Dolf Veenvliet

Whether you work for someone else or run your own business, you don''t need to be reminded how difficult things are. What''s more useful is discovering new ways to save money or to grow your business.

While we''ve had a throwaway culture, extending a product''s useful life now looks smart. Take something simple: that sluggish, aging laptop that takes forever to load Windows. Sure, you could go out and buy the latest, but if you mostly use it for email and web surfing, why go to the extra expense?

 
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One solution is an OS facelift: For $20, you could install Xandros Presto. This cut-down version of Xandros'' Linux distribution shares disk space on Windows XP- and Vista-based systems (you choose which OS to use when you boot). But unlike Windows, this uncluttered OS boots up in seconds and shuts down just as rapidly. The GUI interface is easy to use—no arcane Linux command lines here—and the company offers plenty of useful, free software on its site.

The Web, of course, remains today''s singular and constantly growing production tool that anyone who plans to stay relevant—or within budget—needs to address.

Good places to begin searching for faster-cheaper-better production solutions are web forums. Leading spots to stop by include those at dvinfo.net and creativecow.net.

If you wanted to take it a step further—find work or research used gear—websites provide a good place to start too. You might try millimeter''s reel-exchange.com to post that visual résumé, scan job postings, and find collaborators.

Dive a little deeper into the Web to become part of the next big IT trend—cloud storage and cloud computing. Amazon Web Services'' Simple Storage Service (S3) as well as services from IBM, HP, and others offer secure IT infrastructures with little up-front investment.

Market7 and MediaSilo (see millimeter.com/dcc/revfeat/collaborate-better-online-0209) use Amazon''s S3 to enable a new style of wide-area production collaboration. Their sites, accessible via any browser, save you one major expense: regularly traveling to a client''s site. Production teams can collaborate on developing content, participate in edit sessions, or sign off on complex projects.

Plenty of low-cost production innovation is on hand via another hot trend: smartphone apps for video production. You can already find dozens of useful iPhone apps including footage calculators, shot logs, and even a teleprompter (visit thedvshow.com for more). Meanwhile, rumors float about that Apple''s soon-to-be-released iPhone OS 3.0 upgrade could include a one-stop studio—allowing users to record, edit, view, and share video.

Finally, Kyte is among a number of startups that herald the next stage in low-cost video production: using the Web to produce, distribute, and make money from video content posted on social-networking sites. Unlike most other setups, Kyte allows you to create a single, branded channel and push it across to Facebook, MySpace, cell phones, and more. Add this to Kyte''s ability to instantly stream video from a cell phone to your channel, and you''ve become your own TV mogul.