R.A.P. Interview: Scott Bourne

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R.A.P.: And most of that is done in the video card?
Scott: Right. And that's one thing a lot of people don't know. They don't get that. And when you hear people complain about the speed of workstations, what they're really complaining about is the speed of their video card. By all means, when people are buying workstations, I encourage them to spend the money big time on accelerators for video.

And the other thing to spend the money on is the right kind of hard drive. This is a crucial mistake that nine out of ten people who call me make. They see my name in the RAP WorkStation Network, and they call me after they've bought their hard drive. They're trying to save money by going down to the local computer store. They see a 1-gig drive for $599 and they buy it. The problem is, this is not an A/V drive. The way that hard disks seek and write data is different between an A/V drive and a standard drive. With an A/V drive, the caching system is different. Without getting too technical, the hard disk is a round platter and the hard disk head sits on an arm over the platter and reads data. It gets data from the disk and then it waits for the disk to spin around again before it gets the next bit of data. It will store certain amounts of data in RAM while it's collecting all this information. But if this is done on a Session 8, for example, what happens is you start to backlog the sound, and the sound starts getting stored in RAM instead of getting played. There are special hard drives designed for workstations called A/V drives where everything is instantaneous and the seek time is much faster. The seek time is the time it takes the head to seek out the data on the platter. This time is much faster and the data transfer rate, sometimes known as the throughput, is also much faster on an A/V drive. So, you can have continuous sound, and it doesn't get choppy.

Anyway, guys will spend four, five, or six hundred dollars on these hard disk drives that are meant for computer data. They'll try to load them up on a workstation, and they'll start to get this kind of weird sound. It's like a slow CD ROM where the audio starts to sound like it's being scissored or clipped. Well, go to some computer super store and look at a 386 or a small 486. Look at a standard 1X or 2X CD ROM and have it play some audio. You'll hear what I'm talking about. And the other thing is that these drives they're buying for four, five, or six hundred dollars are not commercial quality drives. They just don't have the MTBF, mean time between failure, that they need to be successful.

We stepped up and bought Micropolis A/V drives. These drives are a thousand dollars apiece minimum for one gig, but these drives have a very high data transfer rate and a very fast seek time. The seek time is like six milliseconds. On these other drives, it's somewhere around twelve. And, believe me, that makes a difference. Buy an A/V drive. Every drive that is A/V is so designated in the model number. And Micropolis is my favorite manufacturer, but there are others out there. And scuzzy drives are inherently faster than IDE drives. These guys are buying IDE drives, and that automatically makes them slower.

R.A.P.: Are scuzzy drives typically external?
Scott: With Macs, they're not, but with IBMs, they tend to be external. That's why they are a little more expensive because you've got a power supply inside the drive as opposed to relying on the computer's power supply. And this brings about the other problem with IDE drives. These guys I'm talking about are buying all these 1-gig drives and stacking them up in their systems. And they've got two hundred watt power supplies that are starting to get drained. By the time you add one of these accelerator cards with 16 megs of RAM, and by the time you add a couple of these internal 1-gig drives, guess what? Now you need a new power supply.

Every card you add requires power, and these little two hundred watt power supplies aren't designed to handle this. So these guys start to build a series of upgrade problems for themselves trying to save five hundred bucks, and it's like jumping over a dollar to save a dime. So I strongly recommend people get an A/V drive. And they are coming down in price. When we bought ours, they were fifteen hundred. Now they're a thousand. It's definitely worth the money. They can't come down too much more because of the mechanical process involved, so it's worth getting them right now because they make a difference. Also, there are some 9-gig drives available in the scuzzy format, which is really nice. You can buy nine gigs now for about fifty-six hundred bucks. And there's nothing like nine gigs when you're working with audio because, of course, everybody who has had any experience knows that they're real storage hogs. Basically, you're looking at ten megabytes per stereo minute. Actually, it's ten point five if we're going to be totally accurate. So you want to have lots and lots of storage space.

Anyway, we've got the Session 8 now. Everybody told us we were crazy, but one of the biggest steps we took was to do away with our mixer. We're just using the Session 8's internal digital mixer, and it's working great.

R.A.P.: Are you a musician?
Scott: Yes. I write, perform, and produce almost all the music. I occasionally have a little bit of help--some subcontract guys who come in and help me with the real advanced stuff that requires a lick better than I can play it. You know, MIDI's a marvelous thing. You can slow stuff way down, then you speed it up, and all of a sudden you sound great. My mom was a music teacher, so I've been playing instruments ever since I was a little kid in grade school.

R.A.P.: Tell us more about your ad agency, Visionary Advertising. In the beginning, was Visionary doing any production?
Scott: Well, actually, in the early years before there was 30:60, it contracted it out, but we did a lot of the copywriting. Primarily what I did was go sell people on using radio. Then I went and wrote the ideas. I did the whole thing through RAB. I'm a CRMC, a Certified Radio Marketing Consultant. I did the whole trip, and I've probably written two or three thousand commercials. That's the most fun part for me, you know, the creative side.

R.A.P.: During this time, did you utilize production houses in Boise or did you go to the radio stations?
Scott: Radio stations.

R.A.P.: So you were one of those agency guys that would come in and sit there with the Production Director during the session.
Scott: Right. I'd write the copy.

R.A.P.: Did they love you?
Scott: Well, you know, I think some of them loved me because I was getting them some schedules they never saw before, but they didn't love me for the fact that I wouldn't accept the standard quality. But, the one thing I had going for me was that I was probably the biggest radio agency in town. The people knew I loved radio and they knew I was converting accounts. When I got the Cellular One account, I took sixty percent away from newspapers. The newspaper people were not happy with me.

R.A.P.: So, 30:60 Production came about when you saw an opportunity to create additional income by creating your own production house.
Scott: Right. Then we were able to bill the client not only our fifteen percent markup on placement, but we started charging three hundred dollars a commercial.

R.A.P.: In Boise?
Scott: Does that sound like a lot to you?

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