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FileMaker Development Led to Success In Reality TV

Pilotware has been used in over 500 television programs.

  • FileMaker

    FileMaker: Tell us more about your work in the entertainment industry?

  • Pilot Peppler

    Peppler: I live in Los Angeles and build software called Pilotware for the television production industry. Pilotware is primarily used in the entertainment industry for reality shows, game shows and talk shows. Since our inception, Pilotware has been used in over 500 television programs. Some of our clients are “The Apprentice,” “Survivor,” “America’s Next Top Model,” “Hollywood Game Night,” “Top Chef,” “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” “Family Feud,” “The Price Is Right,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “The View,” “The Late Show with James Corden” and “Jeopardy!”

  • FileMaker

    FileMaker: Tell us more about yourself.

  • Pilot Peppler

    Peppler: I grew up in Ottawa, Canada, and dropped out of college to play in a rock band for 10 years. We put out two records, got played on the radio and it was great fun. I still love to write songs and play guitar but I’m really into putting things together. I never liked jamming as a musician, I much preferred crafting a song and making it perfect. Writing good computer programs is much the same thing. Growing up, my mom would always play Twenty Questions with us on road trips. We had to guess what person she was thinking of. I often consider that as the real training ground for how to think logically and how to solve problems.

  • FileMaker

    FileMaker: A lot of Reality Shows use Pilotware. Tell us more about what they need it for?

  • Pilot Peppler

    Peppler: Pilotware allows users to view, log, transcribe and share video media outside of the edit room on any PC or Mac computer and without the need for editing software. Traditionally on any TV production, the editing systems are on their own private network. As a result, users could only watch footage from an editing station, and not from their own personal computers. A number of years ago, we came up with a method to bridge that gap, and invented a transcoding system that would take footage from the AVID editing system, and automatically populate the PilotWare database. This really sped up the production process and allowed users for the first time to see footage from the avid on their own computers. Then we can also attach transcriptions and logging meta data to each piece of footage. It really helps the producers find clips and sound bites. Survivor, for example, can shoot over 4000 hours of footage to get 13 hours of television. That’s a lot of footage to sift through. PilotWare helps out with that process.

    Because of how our Pilotware logging system works with footage and string outs, we can cross reference who is in a piece of footage and give a list of everyone who appeared in a reality show. As a matter of fact, as a result, we once kept a producer from getting fined because he could use his Pilotware database to prove that one of the performers on his show was over 18. Pilotware could go to the time code of the source material and cross reference to the paperwork and also show a picture ID of the person in question and prove that everything was in order.

  • FileMaker

    FileMaker: What led you to Los Angeles is what leads everyone to Los Angeles?

  • Pilot Peppler

    Peppler: The promise of no winter, and the whole mystique of living in California. That’s what happens when you spend your life in the chill of Canada watching “Simon and Simon,” “Rockford Files” and “Bugs Bunny.”

  • FileMaker

    FileMaker: How did you get your start in the programming world?

  • Pilot Peppler

    Peppler: I got a job when I moved to Los Angeles as a clerk at a mail-order house. My handwriting was atrocious so my boss suggested I get a computer system to print labels so people could actually read the envelopes. My boss bought FileMaker to print the labels and I took to it like a fish to water. We tried Microsoft Access, FoxPro, Panorama, 4-D and a few other systems, but they weren’t as easy to learn and use. That was the beginning of my career as a computer consultant. Many of my first clients were New Age people who sold Chinese herbs and crystals, ran yoga studios...that kind of thing.

  • FileMaker

    FileMaker: Why is FileMaker suited to this type of work?

  • Pilot Peppler

    Peppler: In the entertainment industry, it’s always last minute changes. Everyday there is a last minute change that needs to be done, especially on a new show. It’s the usual stuff that I’m sure every developer goes through. The big difference for me is that it has to be done immediately because we are about to go to stage with it.

    For example, on “Hollywood Game Night,” the producers are always coming up with new games to play. We often have last minute changes that need to coordinate with the stage electronics crew in a few minutes.

    It’s a daily moving target on every show. So the real push is that only FileMaker can keep up with the rapid-fire changes and demands. I know of no other program that can let you make changes live and on the fly in hours. It’s important too that these changes can be done while the staff is also using the system. That’s key!

  • FileMaker

    FileMaker: Would you recommend to others that they become FileMaker developers?

  • Pilot Peppler

    Peppler: A lot of young programmers just want to create computer games, but frankly that market is full. There are so many huge opportunities in other types of programming, including FileMaker development, that are just as rewarding and the salaries are very good. It’s a matter of supply and demand. From what I’ve seen, you can make twice as much or more money doing FileMaker programming than you can making computer games. And who knows? People may find themselves flying to London or another fun destination to set up a new software system they developed. FileMaker development can be a wonderful, long and rewarding career. It certainly has been for me!

FileMaker development can be a wonderful, long and rewarding career. It certainly has been for me!
- Pilot Peppler, Founder of Pilotware
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