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Re: Looper development and production costs?

At 12:54 PM 10/16/2001, Tom Ritchford wrote:
>>ok, so we take our tiny budget and devote a significant portion of it to 
>>pay for industrial designers, graphic artists, NRE on custom molded 
>>plastics, extrusions, fancy sales literature, etc.
>DON'T do that.

But Electrix gets to! it's not fair!

>this Great Divide here is a perfect example.
>there's a single stencil on it, three color, dark pink, dark purple and 
>the lettering is oversized in pink on the purple and the controls are 
>really simple.

and then later:

>Now.  You EDP folks, if you'd just "accept the note"
>and admit that a few grand in design would add hundreds
>of units to your sales,

so let me get this straight, we change the font, paint it pink instead of 
cream, and our sales will go up by hundreds of units?

wow, I had no idea. and here we've been wasting all this time trying to 
new features and improve production efficiency.

What is the magic font??

>>Sadly, we now don't have enough money after that to pay for another 
>>software engineer and software QA person that we desperately need.
>You have a dramatically exaggerated idea what the cost of design is,
>particularly once amortized out over a lot of cases.

well, I do this for a living, but maybe I'm full of crap.

>I'm sure you could get a designer to do a really nice front
>panel design in perhaps 50 hours of work at $100 an hour.

it's funny how I go through this so often in my professional life.

"It's simple!"
"it only costs $x!"
"it will only take a few days of work!"

it always comes from somebody who's never actually done such a project. 
Then somebody experienced in the field who actually has to do the work 
says, "no it will take more than that, it is not so simple."  That person 
gets shouted down because nobody wants to hear that doom and gloom story 
reality. Fantasy project management is so much more fun!  Of course, 
somehow you never get to say "I told you so" later when the project is a 
complete fucking disaster. but that's how it goes, my life is a dilbert 

>That's a really good designer and a lot of time and that's only
>$5000.  That might get you one MONTH of a decent software
>engineer and no QA person at all.


>If two programmers and two engineers worked on the unit for two years
>and cost $60,000 each a year (including FICA, benefits and all -- this
>is below market rates) then the whole thing cost 2*2*2*$60,000
>or $480,000 which means that each of these dozen features cost
>$40,000 to make.

uh, what decade are you talking about? You have to go to the third world 
find good embedded real-time software engineers or good dsp engineers or 
good hardware engineers who work that cheap. Maybe you can get somebody 
writes windows apps or java script for that price, but the salary paid for 
specialized skills and experience you need for developing something like 
the EDP are at least double that. Where I live it's even higher. for good 
contractors, you're talking $150 - $300/hour.

>The EDP had to have SOME sort of front panel design made up
>and something was printed on it.  That had to cost you something.

no, not really. I did it myself because I believed design was important, 
much as you and Mark have been saying, and other people didn't. Mostly I 
did it in my spare time, but I didn't get paid much anyway in those days 
it probably wouldn't have made a difference. I used the copies of 
illustrator and quark and the large font library I had "borrowed" from the 
printing company I worked at during college. I used the typesetting and 
page layout skills I had acquired during that job as best I could. I think 
we spent about $25 to get films done at a service bureau for the silk 
screen. There ya go, do it on the cheap or don't do it at all. Hate to 
burst you guy's bubbles, but that's the way things get done in the little 
niches of the music industry.

G-Wiz was a small new division then. There wasn't a big budget, there 
weren't many people working there, and the echoplex was the bottom 
project of the pile. the FAR synth, ZIPI, Infinity controller - those were 
the glamor projects that got what there was of the attention, the budgets, 
the resources. The ugly duckling looper project seemed like a long shot. 
This was before the jamman even, so nobody really was sure what to think 
the idea. I liked it though, so I worked on it. Or I was assigned to it 
because I was the lowest guy there. The Echoplex amazed us all by being 
of the few things that actually made it to a real product, and continues 
live long after g-wiz died. That is true because of determination and 
getting things done by any means you can find.

>>yet another fiscal reality check:  these are small companies doing this. 
>>Tiny companies really. Or maybe tiny divisions of small companies. 
>>Usually just 3 or 4 underpaid people tops, without sufficient budget. 
>>There is not a lot of capital available. There is not a large market 
>>available. There will not be a large return for your investment. You 
>>to manage these issues to make money. In fact, you will be lucky not to 
>>lose money. You make choices.
>but it's an inferior choice to drop graphic design entirely, particularly
>since you can get something really quite nice really quite cheaply.

in my opinion, we did get something nice for cheap. Just some people are 
real picky is all. It could have been worse, we could have used Matthias' 
design. ;-)

>you have a major opportunity on your hands!
>Why not take the opportunity NOW that you are coming out
>with a new revision of the machine to call it "EDP 2"?!
>You can put a new coat of paint on the face, call it
>version II, and everyone will look at it again, even
>people who knew about it before.
>It'd boost flagging sales, it'd encourage people who
>already had one to get another, it'd boost people who
>are turned on to looping by the Repeater to look
>at a very different alternative.

in fact, that has been my plan for a long time. I love deceptive marketing 
and sales tricks. Probably all we need to add is a pointy read bubble with 
"New and Improved!" in the middle. Or maybe the Digital Pro Plus XL?

>black and silver and white, that simple sort of thing,
>real typesetting, and it'll be done in a flash.

Not pink and purple? haha... I'm still waiting for an explanation of which 
parts of my typesetting are not real. did I get the kerning wrong 


Kim Flint                     | Looper's Delight
kflint@loopers-delight.com    | http://www.loopers-delight.com