Production Sound & Video

Winter 2017

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24 ABOUT ME AND APP WRITING WHAT'S YOUR BACKGROUND? Primarily, I'm a Sound Utility that has been in the fi lm industry for a little more than ten years years. I joined NY IA Local 52 in 2008 and just recently joined Pittsburgh IA Local 489. Programming has always been a hobby of mine, but I didn't really have experience with anything truly commercial until LectroRM. WHAT MADE YOU START WRITING LECTRO RM? At the time, it was just a fun experiment. One of the most interesting things to do for me is to decypher protocols. At the time, I was day playing on a movie, Nature Calls, and I asked my sound mixer to borrow his RM device just to see if I could fi gure it out. Once I saw what the protocol was, I fi gured it would be useful to have it on my Android phone. Then, I fi g- ured it would be useful to have on everyone's phone. I was already familiar with Java, which is what An- droid developers use. I learned Apple's Objective-C just to develop LectroRM for iPhone. DID YOU HAVE ANY HELP? LIKE OUTSOURCING OR ANYTHING? I had help with the graphics, but that was by a friend. The rest was all self-taught programming skill. Probably why there've been so many bugs over the years. WHEN YOU HAVE AN IDEA, DO YOU REALLY HAVE TO LEARN TO PROGRAM TO MAKE AN APP? The path I took, yes. But Apple and Google make billions of dollars on apps that other people create. Really, what I can attribute my ability to put out a sellable product to is that Apple and Google work very hard to make the tools and information avail- by Richard Lightstone CAS AMPS SOUND APPS A n Interview with James LaFarge, the developer of LectroRM, FreqFinder and Timecard Buddy able for people willing to put in the work. Apple de- veloped a relatively new programming language that it very much wants programmers to use; it has a lot of great resources on how to program in it. YOU SAID SOMETHING ABOUT 'WORK.' ARE YOU SURE? Yes, and ideas can be deceptively simple. LectroRM is probably as simple as it gets. It doesn't require any sort of web service or online support (most ideas do). The UI is relatively simple. Even updating the remote controls for a new product is relatively simple (al- though reconfi guring the UI can be tricky). But every year, Apple releases a new version of iOS. Often, it causes an incompatibility with the previous versions, and maintaining backward compatibility means branching the code in multiple paths. And it is only harder with more complicated apps. This year, for example, Apple changed a large portion of its new Swift programming language. LectroRM and Freq- Finder aren't written in it, but my new app, Timecard Buddy, will have to be reprogrammed in large part to accommodate the changes. Long story short, ideas do not have value without the time and effort spent making it a reality. THAT SOUNDS ROUGH! IS IT WORTH IT? For me and the comparatively simple apps I make, I believe I earn a reasonable sum. I try to set prices to refl ect the work, skill and value. The market is small but substantial, and there is still a constant stream of new users. It is enough that I feel free to take time off from work to program, particularly in the win- ter months. More important than money though: I have experienced no greater feeling of fulfi llment in my life than releasing something I have created to be used by the greater community.

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