Quality Fanatics

You may be wondering who are you people, and why are you so picky about really high quality video and still images?

I have a BS and MS from MIT, but rather than a traditional job out of college I got seduced into news photography. I spent about  15 years as a photographer, mostly with Associated Press, which meant I traveled to major stories, and had to make shoot pictures and transmit them electronically so they could appear on the front pages of newspapers around the world.

It was an extremely competitive job. On major stories (shuttle launches, Presidential trips, Olympics, Super Bowls, Pope trips, wars, etc) you were frequently elbow-to-elbow with competitors from UPI, Reuters, the New York Times, Time, Newsweek and others, and your job was to get the best picture: if you lost, your competition’s picture was on the front page all over the world the next day, and everyone knew you had been beaten. Win, and everyone thought you were a hero.  You pretty quickly decided which felt better!

Early on I started watching the people who would win day in and day out, and what I saw was they didn’t do any one thing massively better than their competition: instead they did EVERYTHING 5% better than the person next to them. They changed lenses a little faster, they picked a slightly better angle, their timing was just a hair better, and taken in combination, their photos were visibly better, time and time again. Add up those 5% differences, and pretty soon you had a 40% better picture.

As you might imagine ,a no-brainer advantage  was to have a sharper picture: hold two choices side by side (yes, pictures were printed back then!) and the sharper one would be the obvious choice. Image quality was a huge differentiator: you did everything you could to use the crispest lens, the right shutter speed, the right technique. If you had a choice of shooting through a window, or opening the window and shooting directly at the subject, you ALWAYS opened the window.

These two lessons (do all the little things 5% better than anyone else, and always go for maximum quality) served me well through my shooting career (I placed second for the Pulitzer Prize in 1980), and then again starting in the late 80’s when I started a software company (we do very large, fast databases of digital images and documents, with customers like the White House, Pfizer, the New York Times, Worldvision, and law firms)). And those lessons have carried on to this project, as future blogs will hopefully illustrate.

But a project like this is not a one-man band. So I would like to introduce Richard Hardy. Richard was my role model growing up, I followed him to MIT, and he has led an amazing career, initially as a “rocket scientist” (no kidding) with Boeing. He worked on the Saturn 5, and then projects like the B-1 bomber, the Air Launched Cruise Missile, and he was Boeing’s program manager on the F-22 Raptor.  He left Boeing to found Hardy Engineering, and the design work on this project has been a collaboration between Richard, his son Jonathan, and myself. For more about Richard see his bio on the “About Us” page, and be aware he has written a book called “The Program Manager: The Bull leading the Charge” which is a primer on the art of running a successful (and ethical) technology project, set in the context of a Cold War aerospace company.

In the course of this blog you will be introduced to other players and organizations, but this gives you an idea of who we are, and what our culture is.