13 Dec

Skill Doesn’t Matter If You Lack Taste

The video had bold titles, complex animations, and loud music. All demoing a great new product. Technically it was a very complex video, far better than I could do. I only wish the people who made it had taste.

I see it all the time with designers who know how to use Photoshop and Illustrator, but fail to understand what makes a design great. Video editors who can create any complex transition you want, but don’t know how to make a video feel timeless.

If you watch the newer Star Wars movies pay attention to the transitions near the end. When they are switching between each of the battle scenes they use Powerpoint style transitions. Dissolve, blinds, swipe. It’s an amateur effect in a movie that is otherwise very technically difficult and visually impressive. The skill is there, but taste is lacking.

The contrast between local and national television commercials is a perfect example. The local commercials are loud, poorly written, and are more in-your-face. Painful at times in their lack of quality. Blaring messages about sales, quickly spoken copy, and flashing graphics are not going to make anyone look fondly on your brand.

Most of having good taste is knowing what to leave out. Slow down. Remove content. Rewrite your script. Never use phrases like “4 easy steps.”  Focus on the details. Keep it simple.

Don’t just learn the technical aspects of your craft. Focus on creating well-formed art.



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14 Responses to “Skill Doesn’t Matter If You Lack Taste”

  1. The star wars transitions are a throwback to the original movies transitions. But I agree the movies have no taste. It’s a bunch of people making them who appear to be afraid to tell Lucas that many of his ideas (and his character and dialogue directing) appear to be unfocused and barely usable.

  2. star wars scene transitions are the same on the older ones.
    the new movies respect this “old fashioned” or “basic” way to do the scene transitions.
    you know nothing about star wars or you would have noticed this simple fact.

    • nathanbarry says:

      I remembered the transitions in the original Star Wars, but didn’t think they were so over the top. Now I need to go back and watch the original films to see how bad they really are.

      • Mat says:

        The original star wars scene transitions (and other parts too) was influenced by an old Japanese movie called the Hidden Fortress. I’d recommend checking out it, definitely a timeless classic :)

      • You need not. The transitions were awful and that’s a fact, both in the originals and the ‘new’ ones. You made a good point. Great post.

  3. agree with your general premise, but the wipe transitions from the new star wars movies were legacy transitions taken from the original star wars. an homage if you will. so… maybe what is really required is skill, taste, AND knowledge.

    • doop says:

      People defending Star Wars: Sorry, the transitions are bad and you should feel bad.

  4. NoisyPanther says:

    Hey, as long as people are talking about a brand, the advertisers did their job. A commercial can suck or be bland, or whatever. As long as you notice it, as far as they’re concerned, they’ve done their job. Even if you don’t buy their product, you’ll talk about it, maybe you’ll post it on the Internet, and somebody will get curious and buy it.

  5. Raxor says:

    Wow, fail to use the Star Wars transitions as an example.

  6. Jason says:

    I would like to respectfully suggest you do some research into film history before jumping to the conclusion that the transitions in the Star Wars films are copied from Powerpoint.



    The transitions used in the original Star Wars weren’t something George Lucas invented. Film transitions such as wipes have a long history going back to 1903. The transitions in Powerpoint were copied from traditional film transitions, actually. When you say it was the other way around — well, to be frank, you sound a little ignorant.

  7. No, the transitions were not influenced by powerpoint.

  8. Not sure if it’s a CSS rendering bug but your content for some reason doesn’t start until about 11″ down on your page, or about 1″ above the bottom of how my browser is currently sized. Kind of an awkward experience.

    Oh, and your tab order is messed up. Tabbing out of this textarea doesn’t take me to the Name field, it takes me to some mysterious, unknown focus. Also awkward.

  9. Nathan,

    This is probably “wrong” of me, but I am curiously lazy at the moment, and wondering why:

    1. There are only a few comments I see here, even though this made it to HN front page? (and no “more” button, etc.)
    2. The OG article date is Dec., but comment dates are Apr?


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