Got a job

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Got a job

Postby Jerry » Tue Oct 12, 2010 11:12 pm

Finally got a job, well, for at least about 8 weeks or so, maybe less if I work too fast. ;)

Working as a Camera Tech for Laika Entertainment here in Hillsboro. They made the movie Coraline. I am making parts for the cameras and stuff for stop motion animation.

So far it is pretty interesting. I have never worked in a place that had so many people in one location. Adults playing with dolls!

http://www.laika.com
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Re: Got a job

Postby Doug Coulter » Wed Oct 13, 2010 9:52 am

Very cool! I'm reliably informed that some of those houses hire the very best and cleverest guys to get their thing done -- this is another data point showing that ;)
I wonder if they'd have a use for that gantry/positioner thing you are working on to hold a camera and move it around the "set"? I saw something like that here.

While not as cool, this is what I saw right at the start of my day job today...Hurrying up to wait often pays off nicely.
Screenshot-2.png
Display for a game for ADD+retarded people (me)


In this case, I'm up $1700+ in the first few minutes of the day (a couple percent) -- and I'm not all in by far, too dangerous for that kinda cowboy stuff just now. So I take some of that and stuff it back in the matress, get on to whatever is going to do that next to be ready for the next swing (which is what takes all the work). The hard part was building these positions yesterday when all looked more like the end of life as we know it. But it is cool to see it all go down, the data service I use shows me literally every thing that happens (I'm not showing the fancier plots I can get that show trade by trade, including *who* did what). Usually by the time something hits the financial media, I've been on it for a week or so...which is how this works if you want to make money at it. This shows just one account, I run several with different goals, kind of, or more accurately, different strategies in each as I learn -- this is always about learning and adapting to the flow of "stupid human tricks". Or as more recently, stupid human-programmed computer tricks along with stupid government tricks. That actually makes it easier, both are much stupider than the usual "masters of the universe" and easier to work with -- because they really are stupid. Sigh.

For an example, right now I'm looking at why MCHP might have just tanked like a stone tossed into a well on news Intel was doing OK -- they don't compete, and the little guys are eating Intel's lunch right now anyway in phones etc. Either I wait for it to bottom and get in for the inevitable mean reversion, or short them right away and catch the rest of the down move. Most of the interest is usually at either the top or the bottom of the watch lists -- extremes revert to means a lot as the little girls run back and forth between sides of the boat, make it tip, freak out and run back the other way. Sad commentary on the human greed reflex, you only have to be a little aware of it to catch the other side of those dumb emotional moves.

StockFunny.jpg
Certainly true of the financial media...
Posting as just me, not as the forum owner. Everything I say is "in my opinion" and YMMV -- which should go for everyone without saying.
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Re: Got a job

Postby Jerry » Thu Oct 14, 2010 1:38 am

Neat link. We are using Canon 5d Mark II cameras. 50 in all. Thats some major bucks!

I managed to get in through someone I know. A little over two years ago I got axed from airgas. At that time they were in the last few months till wrapping up Coraline. My friend who owns that surplus store had some contacts down there and I managed to get in there making last minute parts the needed for certain shoots. They were really happy with me because of my quick turn around times. After that ended and I had moved on to TechShop one of the guys that had given me work showed up at TechShop. His wife does commercial sewing and ended up setting up shop at TS and teaching classes. Also other former Laika employees became TS members and took classes so I know a few people down there. Production on the new movie started a few months ago and thanks to that one friend he got me in there when they needed some help.

Been making all sorts of parts and dohickeys. One thing I had to do was add drive gears to the focus rings on generic nikon lenses for motor control.

The bad thing is the tools I have at my disposal suck big time. A Jet 9x20 for a lathe and a little tabletop jet mill. I can get some stuff done but I am having to bring parts home to do the work because the equipment there is just not capable of doing the work. I have taken some of my equipment down there like my surface plate and various hand tool and measuring equipment. I have a spare South Bend 9A lathe I am probably going to bring down there as well.
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Re: Got a job

Postby Doug Coulter » Thu Oct 14, 2010 1:21 pm

Back when I got jobs, the best always came through people I knew, never a head hunter or some HR junk (had those jobs too, but they weren't that great). That even extended to the consulting biz, as employees moved from one customer to another and mentioned us to the new boss. Nothing like knowing you already like one another and so on. Bodes well, maybe you'll get to play in that toy room for awhile!
I've seen a fairly level headed guy do wonders for outfits full of "imaginative" types, and they often "get it" and discover how much they need you.

I'm not real surprised that since they lacked a pro machinist, they also lacked machines. Sounds like a contracting opportunity (eg rent them time on yours?). That would seem fair, as not only are they using your time (paying for that) but also taking advantage of your capitol investment (risk you took should pay back off to you -- the guy at risk).

Bet you have fun with all those super fine threads the camera biz seems to love so much. I hate those for most uses. What's the point of 114 tpi threads on a lens cap other than to make the tolerances harder to get, and the cap harder to start on? It's not like it's optically aligned or that the thread is the best way to do that anyway -- give me sloppy threads and machined mating flats anytime. Gun guys worked that one out about a century ago -- for the basic working parts...and they are on the slow side on a lot of things -- but the guys making gun optics are just like the camera guys, and flying caps off them are commonplace. A little off size and the cap either won't go on or won't stay on...duh. Do you really need those fine threads on a battery cap or a sight adjustment cap? Can't see why.

BTW, sold a ton at yesterday's peak and wound up $3.7k up on the day. So the market zooms ~100 points and I make good money. Today it's right back down and I lose $99. I had a gut feel I should go short, but didn't, oops -- so back to hurry up and wait again. I don't always call it that well (because it's not always this obvious), but man, it's shaping up as a good week! A few more like that and next year's budget is all taken care of in very nice fashion, with principal not only intact but going up. With some risk management techniques I learned from CurtisF (among others, like William O'Neill) you can kind of ratchet yourself up even if many trades don't go your way. If you make 3x on the wins what you lose on the losers (which you have some control over) even a 50:50 ratio of good to stupid trades makes you good money indeed, for example. I am at kind of a sweet spot -- small enough to be nimble and able to get in and out without moving the market myself, while still big enough so that I can book good money on small % changes -- not half penny spreads like the HFT guys, but you know, changes that no one would jump up and scream about -- 1% on some stock position makes me a good chunk of change, and they all do that almost every day if you choose from the right groups -- you just gotta be on the right side of it at the time...
Posting as just me, not as the forum owner. Everything I say is "in my opinion" and YMMV -- which should go for everyone without saying.
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Re: Got a job

Postby Jerry » Sat Oct 16, 2010 2:38 am

I would say about 2/3rds of my jobs came from knowing people.

The riggers down there do some pretty amazing work down there with what they have. It appears Will Vinton Studios (Of the California raisins fame), which was Laika, had a machine shop of some sort. The guys down there can use the equipment but really dont understand things like feeds and speeds and even basic tool geometry.
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Re: Got a job

Postby Doug Coulter » Mon Oct 18, 2010 11:40 am

Or, it's not who you know, it's who knows you!

Your specialized serious knowledge should serve them well -- and by karmic reflection, you, or so I'd hope. Hopefully they kick in a little extra for access to your better gear, too.
I know from long experience as an employer that when you find a guy who really helps things go -- you take real good care of that guy. They're not that easy to find.
Posting as just me, not as the forum owner. Everything I say is "in my opinion" and YMMV -- which should go for everyone without saying.
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Re: Got a job

Postby Jerry » Tue Oct 19, 2010 2:58 am

Nope, not getting anything for using my tools. On the last film they did they did rent equipment but not now. The beancounters are drawing the purse strings a little tighter it seems.

Here I am just one of many guys who are really good in their fields.

Today I worked on adapting a matte box to fit on our camera system and the mount for setting up a Cooke 20-100mm lens to one of the Canon 5d Mark II's. Looked up the lens when I got home:

http://cgi.ebay.com/Cooke-Varotal-20-10 ... 1e5d0bd09e

Yikes!!!
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Re: Got a job

Postby Doug Coulter » Tue Oct 19, 2010 12:16 pm

Yikes indeed! Don't drop one!

Yeah, it's nice to be in a team of all good guys, particularly when there's decent diversity in the skill sets -- that's what I'm trying to set up here, after all. Partly because that's what I used to do as a business owner and it was both very successful (retired at age 50) and one heck of a lot of fun, besides. It seems to make each person more valuable, more than the sum of the parts when there's always someone to fill in the other guy's weak spots -- carries the group vision forward much better, not to mention quicker.

Or even rock and roll -- I was primarily a drummer when I was a pro. Doesn't sound that great alone, but then the other guys don't sound that great without a drummer interacting and providing punctuation & emphasis. Together, we really rocked -- and actually made enough dough for it to be our "real jobs" for some years. But that was also a case of "overnight success after only a decade or two of practice" -- and finding the right other guys so we all meshed well -- that part was very much the key.

The best times I've ever had have been in situations like that, just about any way you want to measure "best". Since those situations usually resulted in a burst of productivity, and what goes around comes around....generally made good money too, though often from unexpected quarters.

Dumb example:
I was kinda broke, bored, working with a college kid I was mentoring, while homesteading this place. No sales of anything in sight, but we wanted to be doing "something". So we decide we want to make a digital recording studio, at a time when most PC's were 386 based, or maybe the hot rods were 486, and the best sound cards were 8 bit. So we design a DSP based sound card that has some serious on-board computing power, and real good a/d, d/a on it. It was expensive for the time, about a grand in those dollars, and musicians, well, aren't the rich crowd usually. We didn't sell too many (but one of the customers happened to be a good programmer and he joined up too). So, a lot of "labor of love" but near zero bucks, but we became quite good at signal processing, and the guys we got our DSP chips from (texas instruments) knew it.

At some point, a major electronics manufacturer (Valcom) became aware that pushing opamps was the way of the past in telecom kinds of stuff, and really needed some help getting into the new world. He asks the TI rep who in the area knows this stuff. He mentions us. They call me, we go in, and bring the super soundcard and system in for a demo. They are duly impressed (it was very cool for the time) and they started asking questions like "who did the board design": I did. "how long did it take": Couple months. "who wrote the drivers for windows" I did. "How long" two weeks. Who wrote the nifty multi-tracking non linear editing software" We did. "how long" about 3 months (much of it was also used in the CoolEdit program later on which was pretty successful itself). OK, name your price!

5 years later, we'd netted 10 million dollars from jobs for that guy (three of us split that). And it was fun the entire time! They took all the risks, and made most of the money -- fair all around, and their CEO (also owner) was heard chortling down the hall that C-Lab (my outfit) was essentially "free" and the best deal they'd ever made, after a product we'd designed for them (based on the same soundcard, for crying out loud) for a couple hundred K$ billed had made them 10's of millions in the first 6 months on the market...and saved their ailing company.

So not only did we all get rich, it was a real love fest along with that -- perfect. Some would be complaining that we only made what we made while they made much more, but I think it was fair -- we took no risk, we got paid on time and up front always. They took all the risk (and with 500 guys running expensive robots, it was substantial), and made most of the dough.

But had I stuck to my first business model, selling digital recording studios, I'd be in sad shape now. That business really took off once we showed the way, and when the big boys got in, and PC's improved, we'd have been left in the dust, utterly. So sometimes it works out that you do a favor to guy A, and guy B is the one that pays it off. Funny old world, but the golden rule IS a rule.

Needless to say, during the .com boom, we also did a lot of less fun work for desperate startups and their VC's, and even turned a lot down, as it was obvious they were going to fail, they needed more than design, they needed a good business plan (and does anyone actually want this mousetrap you want us to design?), and we didn't want the inevitable bad karma associated with all that. A key there was them wanting to pay us in stock or options instead of cash. When we said we'd take like 1/3 of it, but cash only, the looks in their eyes told the story, and we would just bail right off. Turned out to be wise (luck? maybe, but I'll take luck).

But I'll never forget what all that taught me, and the power of a diverse team of good people, and how much plain old good clean fun it can be, which is why I'm here doing this now.

Call it trolling for talent, if you want to use the lowest words for that. And I'm overwhelmed how well it seems to be working out so far. It's early days to be sure, but it sure feels "right".

The only thing new about this, really, is that this is international, and there's little likelihood we'll all wind up working F-F, or even on the same thing(s). Balance that with the much larger potential talent pool we can tap, and I think it's still a winning plan that will benefit all of us, probably in unexpected ways, like always.

So who knows, maybe my fusion efforts are a similar "labor of love" that will net me diddly by themselves (other than large amounts of pure fun). Could be, won't stop me. But what a setup if the skills acquired in it turn out to be hyper valuable to someone doing something else cool....like last time. High risk, kind of, high payoff in the currency that really matters -- fun and good people to hang with and do good things together.
Posting as just me, not as the forum owner. Everything I say is "in my opinion" and YMMV -- which should go for everyone without saying.
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Re: Got a job

Postby Jerry » Wed Dec 01, 2010 4:00 am

Three days left to go. The stage manager is trying to get me a stay of execution but I am not holding my breath. From what I hear corporate is slow to act on anything.

On the bright side they have some side work for me making some camera stands. That should get me by for a bit. They say they are going to try and bring me back full time in Jan.
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Re: Got a job

Postby Jerry » Sat Dec 11, 2010 3:23 am

Well, they extended me for another three months. Woo! A paycheck!
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