Vincent Laforet – The Future Of Photography Is Convergence

- - The Future

Rob: I want to talk with you about the post you made last week on your blog (here) where you asked people to guess the camera you used to make an image then revealed it was a frame grab from the Red Epic M digital cinema camera.

Vincent: First of all, this is not a philosophical discussion between the value of a photograph versus the value of the moving image. Because no one can win that one, there is no answer to that question. And I’m not looking to challenge either side of that argument because I find it utterly pointless. The value of a still image versus the value of a movie or a still frame from a movie means different things to many different people. Each discipline has its clear strengths depending on how each is used and for what purpose it is being used. I am just looking at emerging technology and how it could potentially affect our future.

A still image is still going to be the entry point for everything in the future.

I’m not so sure anymore. YouTube gets more than 2 billion visits a day…

How can you get a message across quickly using video? When we’re talking about information overload and trying to catch someones attention with a piece of advertising video doesn’t have a chance compared to a still image.

Remember “Minority Report”? I don’t remember seeing too many still image billboards when he was walking through the mall, ever.

Right, but that’s a film maker’s idea of the future. It was probably the same in “Blade Runner”, right?

It was. And in “Blade Runner”, they actually hired a futurist who studies these things and helps technology companies design future products. The point is, no one knows the future and to proselytize about it is kind of pointless. I’m fortunate enough to work with a lot of leading companies out there and get a glimpse into, and often a private glimpse, into what they’re working on years ahead of time, as well as introduced to what I would call forward thinking people. Some of them are geniuses who are literally inventing the products of the future.

And when you get to sit down with these people, you’re fortunate enough to get a pretty good glimpse of what the future might bring.

You’re not going to tell us, are you?

I don’t know that much more about the future than anyone else reading this blog, but I have been exposed to what the leaders in different industries are actively working on and thinking of.

I think anybody involved in producing content or in the advertising world would love the 30 second commercial to live forever. It’s an expensive buy, it’s an expensive thing to produce. They would love that. But maybe the like button is the future, one dumb little button that I press and tells all my friends that I eat Cheerios. There’s a pretty big gap between those two ideas.

Sure. I want to make sure we stay focused on what I know, which is not the secret to advertising in the future. And, how to keep people’s attention in the future, when most viewers have the attention span of say – a mosquito. What I have been exposed to, is what camera manufacturers, computer companies, network companies, distribution companies, et cetera are working on. Whether it’s holographic imagery, chairs that move in your living room based on the input from the action movie you’re watching, new delivery methods online and ways to interact with the content so that you can purchase it from your TV or browser, technology that tracks all of your likes and customizes advertising to what you know. To what cameras will be shooting, what resolutions, what ISOs, the form factors, new changes in lens technology.

Yeah. So given with all that you know and have been exposed to, has shooting with the Red made you really stop and think, “OK, one camera that does it all…” I mean, is that what blew your mind?

I’m not going to go as far as to say that the Red is the camera that does all of it yet. It’s definitely the single closest thing I’ve used to date that made me say “wow.” But, given the pace at which things are going, it’s only a matter of years until these live action cameras, the Reds or other cameras, are taking hundreds of images a second at the same resolution that our 5D Mark II’s are shooting today. And many will doing so in a raw format.

And my reason for talking to you is not to freak everyone out, but everyone should look at this technology and look at the examples out there more closely. I think they need not ask themselves: “Well, how can I apply this today?” Instead they should at least ponder how all of this might come to be applied in a few years from now. That’s what we need to be thinking about, because we have the power to influence and sculpt that as creatives.

Why is this future camera that does both, that allows you to pull still frames out of motion, so important?

On the one side there’s technology pushing things but on the other side we have the manufacturers of television sets, the magazines publishers, as well as advertisers that are also going to push their agendas. The choices of what we shoot, how we shoot and with what we shoot is often made by executives, or worse: bean counters… not necessarily creatives.

So you’re saying that the convergence is a matter of cost and convenience?

It’s one of the big factors, is going to be that, absolutely. And I guess that’s a bit of a negative way of looking at it. There are positives to this. It’s a complicated matter. This is not a “one answer, one solution fits all” deal.

For certain uses, it’s really obvious that there are a great series of tools that are coming out. For example this morning I was about to leave my home to go to work. I had my Epic with me and my daughter got into her ballerina dress for the first time. And I had a choice between my Leica M9 or the Epic, two very different tools, to very different ways of shooting, and two very different results obviously. One’s noticeably heavier. But with the Epic, I get 5k resolution stills. I’m shooting it at 96 frames a second, at a 200th of a second. And I’m able to get incRedibly sharp 14 MP stills from the camera.

I’m most likely not going to print poster images of my daughter- as much as I love her. But I will definitely print 8×10, 11x14s with a 14 megapixel camera, which is what the 5k can do. And it’s going to allow me to pick one of 96 frames every single second. And I also have the benefit of having a video clip to go along with it. Slow motion video that is @6 times the resolution of 1080p content as a result. So why would I choose the Leica other than the form factor, obviously? And the fact that it’s a still image and slightly higher resolution.

You’d choose it for price.

We’re talking about the future here. Not what things cost today. My iphone shoots better pictures than my $20,000 Canon D2000 shot 10 years ago.

All right. You’ve seen the future.

No, but I have seen what the future can potentially bring. I’ve seen that I shoot more than 60 percent of my personal images now on my iPhone. Because guess what? They’re more than good enough. Two years ago I would never have dreamed I’d be doing that, because the iPhone’s quality was nowhere near where it is now. These days, I hesitate between running up to go get my 5D MKII or Leica if it’s not near me or pulling my iPhone out of my pocket. So form factor and price are always a big factor, of course. But the reason we’re talking about the future is the technology that’s in the Red Epic today could very well someday be in a very small Red Epic, or perhaps even in your cell phone or your still camera. The question is: what will you shoot then? Especially when you can get both high resolution stills plus video simultaneously? THAT is the question. Other than the amount of data you are shooting – if you don’t need to make a choice between the two – will you?

Here’s what’s important, if you can shoot 120 frames or 96 frames per second at a high resolution, it removes one of the single most difficult aspects of being a photographer, which is to capture the “decisive moment.”

You just said something very outrageous, you realize that? Camera manufacturers have eliminated the need to focus and the need to nail exposure, now you’re saying no more decisive moments. Christ.

Yeah. That’s the key point here and a whopper of one. Focusing was a technical skill once that made it very difficult to break into sports photography. Exposure was a technical skill that was another barrier. Granted, both can be used for artistic purposes of course. But the decisive moment, to me after 21 years of taking still images is still the number one most difficult thing to do. By now, after 21 years of shooting, I can do expose without a meter. I can frame a shot without thinking about it too much. And I can most of the time either auto focus or manual focus relatively easily by now.

The one thing that’s going to make me miss or succeed as a photographer is capturing “the” moment, because that involves anticipation and predicting the future. It involves a lot of skill, a lot of guess work, and experience. And I think ultimately knowing when to press that shutter is one of the greatest skills you can develop as a still photographer.

And eventually, there’s going to be no shutter to press.

Precisely. The cameras can now be recording all the time.

So doesn’t that just transfer the job of capturing the decisive moment to editing the decisive moment?

Editing is going to become one of the most important, sought after skill sets in the next five to 10 years. I think we’re going to see such an incredible amount of data coming in, to the likes of which we’ve never seen before that editors are going to become one of the most important job positions out there.

So there will be a need for a photographer to pair up with an editor?

I don’t see how a photographer/videographer can do all this on their own. They would never sleep.

Ok, let’s talk about the workflow. I mean that’s probably the biggest issue. There’s so much data and you’ve got to edit it and deal with it and save it and archive it.

The workflow is a bear. There’s no way around it. I shot, yesterday afternoon and this morning, for probably half an hour each. And I have half a terabyte to copy over.

[laughter] That’s ridiculous.

It is ridiculous. And people are going to roll their eyes right now and go oh well, this is all crazy! But wait a minute. Firs, I’ve got 96 frames of every second I shot in those two periods of time to pull beautiful stills off of and then of course the video. It’s all raw which why it’s so huge. Now you can do the type of color correction you expect to do on your Canon or Nikon raw file with your video. And then you can project this footage on any motion picture screen in the world. All this with a camera that’s not that much bigger than a Hasselblad. The data is crazy now. But has hard drives get bigger, and compression formats and workflows get better – it will become irrelevant.

And you think this is going to get down to the Canon and Nikon type of situation?

I don’t know if it’s going to. The point of the discussion is not to wave any flags of any color, white flags or red flags or black flags, but just to get people to think, that’s all, about what we’re going to be doing in a few years, and to think about it positively, not with fear, but with eager anticipation.

When I look at the imagery I’m getting off this camera, I get absolutely nothing but joy in terms of what I’m seeing in the moving image as well as in the still images coming from the footage. It’s an incredible pleasure to get to see both. The only downside to the technology so far is the post.

And that should improve as well, right?

It always improves. And creatives should not be worried about that stuff. Other than keeping an eye on it for their productions. Creatives should be worried about creating different visual pieces of art and other types of art. If you get bogged down into, “Oh, my God, look at the post workflow,” you’re losing sight of what your job is.

Tell me, how does this compare to what happened to you three years ago when you discovered HDSLR filmmaking?

I haven’t felt this sort of excitement or urge to get my hands on a camera and start playing with it since I saw the 5D Mark II. And I should point out that back then certain people at Canon told me I was making a huge mistake, that this was not a video camera. This was meant to be a still camera that happened to have a video feature. And that a lot of people outright attacked me on the Internet and in person for saying that I was crazy thinking anyone would ever shoot with these HDSLRs. So I’m eagerly awaiting the inevitable comments coming my way.

Keep in mind that I’m not trying to change anything. I’m just trying to remark or observe on what I’m seeing happening, and what I’m hearing people working on for the future, and how it’s going to possibly change the way things are.

Again, I’m not getting into a debate on what has more value, the still or motion. Nor am I really commenting on where things are right this minute. I’m looking at where things are likely headed.

I’m also reacting to something a cinematographers told me a few years ago that left a mark, something that I think is very relevant, and that we should all worry about as we discuss our job titles and our careers. When the Red One came out, they had the ability to save stills to an external card. And I went up a DP who was on stage at a Red event, and I asked, “Who in the world would want to shoot a still image with this huge Red camera with a Cine lens? It’s insane. Why wouldn’t you go out with my 5D Mark II that shoots RAW?” His response sent shudders down my spine. He said very bluntly, in a German accent, “We want to take your still jobs away from you, just like you want to take our video jobs away from us with your HD SLRs.”

Yikes.

So for the readers of your blog, who I assume are mostly on the still end, we’re very often focused on how we can evolve our career into the video world, and add that as another set of skills or another service that we produce. We don’t often discuss on the fact that most film makers, videographers, directors, DPs, are feeling the exact same pressures we are from their clients and are very eager to move into commercial photography. Not because they want to be commercial photographers, but because they want to land that job at all costs.

“We want you to shoot the commercial, and we would like to pull some stills from the footage to use for print ads and Internet billboards.”

Exactly. Don’t forget that most people in the motion world are “work-for-hire.” So they don’t get the same type of deals with still imagery that we do with still commercial photography contracts. Don’t think that that’s not going to effect the still market. And lastly, don’t think that I’m happy about this. I have no joy in sharing that thought or seeing it happen.

No. I think we don’t have to emphasize it, hopefully people realize that you’re not trying to destroy anything. You’re trying to help people understand, because you do have access to $30,000 cameras to mess around with and you can explain what might happen if it was a $5,000 camera.

Here’s another revolutionary part of the equation, I’m carrying my entire Epic kit with matte box, filters extra batteries and cards, in my backpack. I have a motion picture camera in my backpack. That’s going to shake things up a bit as well in some areas. You still need a full crew for a major studio film, but for some work (such as what Tom Lowe is doing at Timescapes.org) you no longer do. One other quick note photographers should pay attention to, I’m having to modify the standard DGA (Director’s Guild of America) contracts I sign now to prevent clients from pulling images from my commercial shoots. Just recently a still client and agency pulled a still from a commercial I shot for them. I had a previous relationship with them as a still photographer. They had also hired a still commercial photographer for the still portion of the shoot. But when the client asked to use a frame grab from one of my clips they did so without hesitation. They were unapologetic. Lesson learned. Most directors being hired out there aren’t thinking yet about whether or not their clients are going to pull stills from their footage.

Since you witnessed what happened with the HDSLR in the last 3 years, can you predict how quickly this will evolve and people will adapt to it?

I think that the HDSLR movement was much more rapid and far-reaching because of the types of market we’re talking about. Everyone from amateurs to professionals can afford to buy one. Price is a major factor. This will have a slower effect, but a more noticeable one, on the high end. Bruce Weber, Mark Seliger and Annie Leibovitz are shooting with the Epic already.

Really?

Yes, and tons of fashion photographers. The higher production people are going to be using this camera. And it’s going to have an effect. I don’t know how fast, how quick it is. But ultimately, I think you have to try your hand at this technology, you can’t sit back. I’m not saying you change your business model, or even own an Epic. But I think you need to have some experience with it, and rent it for a weekend. So that when you’re client calls you and says, “Do you know how to do this?” You don’t say, “No, I’ve never tried.”

Because not all video requests require Technocranes and 50 member crews. Some of it’s relatively simple. If they just want you to roll some video on that certain types of shoots, then the answer can be “absolutely,” for most photographers.

So is this your advice for most photographers, to prepare themselves for what you see as a convergence?

Dip your toe into it or make someone in your studio at least know something about it. Keep your mind open. And more than anything, the hardest thing to do is, instead of reacting to the change with fear (which is a natural human instinct that we all know about) react to this change as something that’s exciting and full of new opportunities and new ways of being creative.

It’s very difficult to be original as a photographer these days, given how long the medium has been around and how many photographers there are out there. But this is a new medium, in effect. It’s a cross over medium that’s becoming viable and offers up a lot of really interesting new ways of communicating. You’ve probably seen those example of photographs, where part of it is in motion, right? That’s a new medium that’s developed out of this technology. And that’s exciting, I’m excited. I’m not scared of any of this. I guess that’s just the way I look at it, but it does not scare me. I find it’s tremendously liberating to not have to choose between shooting video or stills. That doesn’t mean I won’t be making the choice between the two anymore of course – every job has the right tool. But I now have a new tool in my toolbox.

You seem to be walking very carefully around making any declaration that the still camera is going to be dead in the future. You don’t see that?

I guess I’ve gotten a little older, perhaps slightly wiser, and realized that you can probably make the same point, and get people to think more, without making huge declaratory statements. I think big statements like “the camera is dead” or “game changer” starts to fall deaf on certain people’s ears after a while.

I think it’s more important to say, “Take note of this new technology and try it out if you can. And if you can’t try it out, think about its potential uses and how that might benefit you in a future assignment, your creativity, or your business.”

There Are 128 Comments On This Article.

      • Um, Mark, the Alexa is the choice among many top DPs for shooting MOVIES on. They dont care about stills or what other people are doing with Epic cams. The resolution is a gimmick more than anything else when it comes to movies right now. Some of the best are actually shot on 16mm! Its a style choice and the human eye really can’t see much past 1080p, depending on screen size of course, and it doesnt always need to. Why are you guys so obsessed with resolution anyway? Ever think about it? You are being sold on a number and that is it. Stop being a fan of a one company who will soon be outdated by Sony, Panasonic and Canon, and learn the craft from an artist’s POV, not a consumer’s.

  1. Convergence is here already. We got to deal with it. I already get clients calling who want one day of still shooting and one day of video and only want to send one person out because it is video “just for the web”,

    • portnoi halifax

      yes “just for the web.”

      i have heard that too. and it reminds me of the marathon argument/debate/discussion going on here which i found in an earlier thread here:

      http://digital-photography-school.com/forum/earning-photography/159446-business-strategies-4-shooting-stills-hd-video-simultaneously-during-photoshoot.html

      lots going on there, including some quite vocal expressions of photographers who are against shooting stills and video at the same time.

      below someone says offering video-shooting concepts to photographers ho are drowning these days is like throwing them a life-preserver and then watching it dissolve. well, some of the photographers are pushing the life preserver of innovation and new things away.

      • portnoi halifax

        yes the convergence is all being driven by moore’s law.

        “Waste what’s abundant to make up for what’s scarce,” is driving the philosophy of shooting stills & video at the same time.

        from http://www.theinfoboom.com/articles/bernard-golden-cloud-computing-wasting-resources-redefined/ “I was struck by his second rule: “Waste What’s Abundant to Make Up for What’s Scarce.” Kessler describes a conversation he had with George Gilder, in which Gilder says “What’s abundant is cheap — the price signal tells you to waste it. What’s scarce is expensive. Instead of using economics to allocate what’s scarce, just waste something else until what you want is no longer scarce.”"

        from: http://blog.9shooter.com/2011_06_01_archive.html
        “Waste the Abundant! Conserve the Precious and Rare.
        “Waste what’s abundant to make up for what’s scarce!” Basically, time is precious and rare, while HD cameras and storage space are ever-more abundant and inexpensive, suggesting a new mindset, philosophy, and psychology for photographers/videographers–the 9shooter philosophy. Waste the space on the CF and SD Cards during a shoot! Buy an extra hundred gigs for a hundred bucks, and then waste it on all the shoots! Waste your hard drive space, to make up for the scarcity of your time and your models’ time.

        9shooting is Driven by Moore’s Law
        9shooting, like the internet itself and the digital video/audio revolutions is also driven by Moore’s Law. As computers became faster, cheaper, and more powerful so too did the price of storage media–hard drives and memory cards–plummet. A few years ago terabyte drives were unthinkable, and 100 gigs was a lot! Now we regularly buy 2, 3, and 4 terabyte drives for a hundred bucks or so. And SD and CF cards have all come down in price, as have high quality HD Camcorders, with the ~$200 Go Pro HD Hero being used in feature films and television! Run the numbers, and with time a rare as ever, and with cameras and storage inexpensive and abundant, it is inexpensive and easy to set up several HD cameras for a shoot, while also mounting one to a bracket connected to the DSLR. ”

        i remember reading how bill gates’ strategy was also to waste the abundant, and i know videogame company’s are always planning the next generation of games by wasting the abundant–processor speeds and memory.

        seems like photographers need to adapt the “Waste what’s abundant to make up for what’s scarce,” philosophy. Or ignore it at their own peril, as this book’s author did: “The book’s early rules are the strongest and most provocative. “Rule #2: Waste What’s Abundant to Make Up For What’s Scarce” is a bit of a mind-bender at first, given society’s intense focus on preserving, recycling and sustaining. But Mr. Kessler burns through the conventional wisdom to show how markets tell us what’s abundant (it’s cheap) and how that abundance, properly exploited, can lead to major breakthroughs. He relates the story of when he and a high-school friend built a personal computer before the PC boom and even thought about starting a company to make them—but didn’t bother. He had failed to see, he says, that the dawning era of cheap and abundant transistors would fuel the sale of PCs in untold millions. (The need to latch onto products or services that “scale” into the millions is another of his watchwords.)” –http://www.discovery.org/a/16461

        • Dr. Elliot McGucken

          Yes, but a Canon-based 9shooter system (with the Canon 5D Mark ii & HFS200) costs less than 1/10 cost of the RED EPIC and can be hand-held, as it is far lighter and smaller. The 9shooter also carries the advantages of redundancy and both dedicated stabilization for stills and dynamic stabilization for video, and one can use standard Canon lenses. In a showdown, the <$5,000 9shooter system would beat the $58,000+ EPIC RED hands down. And just you wait until the 9shooter with a Canon 5D Mark III & Mark IV!
          http://blog.9shooter.com/2011/06/canon-based-nine-shooter-9shooter-4500.html

          In a showdown, the 9shooter beats the EPIC RED hands down.

  2. For now, video lacks any allure for me because one of my favorite parts to the process is the finalization of an image via retouching. The perfection element is almost completely absent with video (for my personal taste).

    When painless retouching (imagine a product named ‘Videoshop’) for video hits the market with a low enough price tag, things will really explode in glorious fashion.

    Hold on to your hats ladies and gentlemen, we’re in for more quakes and career altering ripples.

    • paul herrin

      fairly soon we should see direct support for r3d files in photoshop, that means you can work on stills just the same with the same raw capabilities you’re used to. until then, you can work on the raw data in redcine-x (free), premiere, after effects, nuke, and a number of other applications, then export lossless stills or sequences for retouching. which can be done in something like photoshop or after effects, or the foundry’s nuke from the original camera files… so, try it out.

    • We already have retouching for video. Colour correction? And with the Magic Bullet plugins it’s become a lot easier. Add to this the new FCPX…

  3. I can’t help but feel a deep sadness at the loss of “The decisive moment”. That skill was what inspired me to become a Photographer.

    • things dont get lost. There will always be who still make a good living doing things the old way.

      i think there is a point where the technology starts to get in the way of what you set out to do in the first place. Having to copy a 500 gb of data after a shoot falls into that category. thats my opinion at this point in time but things change

    • paul herrin

      don’t be silly. people have been shooting however many frames in a row they can to capture that as long as they were able to. now we just get more frames in a row. that’s the only difference. now we can focus on being in the right place at the right time, rolling. we can focus on composition and lighting. we can focus on communication. the decisive moment has in one way or another always been about luck. always. now we’ve just taken one step to eliminate the luck factor. that’s a good thing. and you realize, with the cameras, you can click the shutter to store in the metadata a marked frame… where you think that decisive moment is. and if you were a frame or two off… no biggie. it’s about the shot right?

  4. Great post Rob! Thanks for the interview. Once again, Vincent Laforet is ahead of the curve and offers up stellar advice for photographers that still want to be photographers (or DPs) in the next ten years or more. This interview reminds me a lot of his stellar article “The Cloud is Falling” on Sportsshooter.com a number of years ago. Great stuff! Thanks Vincent!

    • Vincent’s comments are, as usual, very candid and well informed. I’ve been shooting on my Red One for some time now, and have even experimented with selling frames as printable stills. One of my frames appeared on billboards last year. I’ve been carrying a motion picture camera on my back for a few years now thanks to Red, so I echo Vincents comments only with the exception that I’m looking forward to EASILY carrying a motion picture camera on my back…. ;-)

      I think there are certain physical, creative, on-set workflow, and story-telling limitations to the convergence of stills and motion that prohibit a DP from shooting still and motion at the same time in the same box, or at least make it likely that instead of shooting BOTH, you wind up shooting NEITHER.

      The physical limitations show up as larger lenses that are more precisely machined for cinema work, larger cameras that require additional features like HD-SDI outputs, multichannel audio inputs, TC generation / synch, multiple monitor paths for operator / art director / client / focus puller / etc. This is more of a technical hurdle that cameras like the epic are starting to sort out. The most important physical limitation in convergence is lighting. Stills guys pull more ‘power’ out of their pocket than a motion guy can get from a 200 lb. generator. This is just a simply physical barrier that no camera or circuit board will change. Stills need a moment of light, motion needs continous light.

      From a creative perspective, shooting for both stills and motion is a nightmare because the whole story needs to be in the still frame, but a movie has the ability to cut from one place to another, developing the story over time. Bottom line is… do you put the whole story in the wide master, and then cut to redundant material in coverage? that makes the movie less interesting, when you’re coverage and close-ups reveal the same stuff you saw in the master. Plus, if you’re shooting for convergence your stills would suffer if you shot dark, mysterious, vague footage…. so your movie becomes heavy-handed, explicit, and uninteresting. How many frames from a good horror film would work as a still image? Almost none… they’re too dark, blurry, and you cant really see what’s going on. Here’s an example of material where if you were shooting for both stills and motion you would wind up with neither.

      On my sets, I like to have one person doing stills and another responsible for motion (usually me) if only because of the very different head-spaces that are required to get outstanding content in each type.

      Speaking of the devil… I’m off to shoot!

  5. Ascetically, I think convergence has been slowly happening for a long time. We all see many more moving images than stills, and that has influenced our collective visual language. If moving pictures had never been invented, I think still images would look a lot different today. It’s not a coincidence that someone like Steve McCurry went to film school before heading off into the world with his camera. And even the still photographer who says “I don’t do video” actually does do video, even if it’s just in his or her head as a visual language acquired from watching films.

  6. Donnor Party

    Convergence is overblown and overhyped. That doesn’t make it any less real. I would suggest that commercial shooters who want to “pick up” video think long and hard about it. BTS with a 5d2 is one thing, real video production is another. Some people can do it, some will fail. Consider partnering with a DP/videographer, even a loose affiliation. Its hard giving up th lone wolf thing, but with real production, you need professional help.

    A word of warning: Its far easier for directors, DP’s and cinimatographers to “pick up” stills, mainly because most DPs and cinimatographers have shot stills their entire lives.

    • agreed. my entrance into the world was through my film connections. did test films with my friend who was a grip looking to move up to gaffer and on again to dp.

      motion CANNOT be done alone.

      this is why it costs so much, and also why you don’t see it exactly taking over the world like film -> digital did.

      Still photos are the best choice for a lot of stories, and motion is the best choice and medium for other stories. “convergence” is a buzzword sold by seminar slingers.

      • Donnor Party

        You said: “convergence” is a buzzword sold by seminar slingers.” Truer words have never been spoken. The “convergence” is really on the client side. I do see a huge market in teaching principals of film production to terrified photographers. It like throwing a drowning man a life preserve that dissolves in water.

            • I think photographers should learn video production or partner with a DP/Sound/Editor. It’s just necessary.

              If photographers want to learn video production in it’s entirety, go for it, but it will still be necessary to hire an entire crew to produce something slick.

              Using video as an extension of stills is really important at this stage of the game. See my last article in American Photo Magazine.

  7. The thing is not all photography is about a ”decisive moment”. I’m sure this is a great thing for sports photographers but what is a landscape photographer going to do with it? What does a portrait photographer who shoots 4×5 now do with a Red? The Red seems like a great thing for some photographers but utterly meaningless for others.

  8. Thanks Rob and Vincent!!! I am looking forward to working with the Epic-X and or Epic-S in the near future. Hats off to Jim Jannard for starting Red.

  9. Richard Vassallo

    Definitely interested. How many times do I see the perfect shot and the camera delays by a second or two. Then it is gone. very frustrating. The question is can this shoot in low light.

  10. Jonathan Worth

    This a super interesting and much appreciated but with respect, the decisive convergence that technology is driving toward is not one of stills vs moving capture but one of traditional content supplier vs mediated authorship and hyper-engagement.
    The decisive digital moment won’t be one dictated by ever reducing micro-seconds but one where the audience engages realtime with the subject matter and takes ownership of their story.
    And that philosophical shift ain’t gonna be about buying new shit.

  11. I have been thinking the same thing, the future is about the edit. The position of Photo Editor/Footage editor is about to become as important a line item as the producer or the post charges. I already use editing assistants for my video footage and use photo editors for my large still shoots. It just makes sense that as these come together, the person with a great editing skill set is going to become key to the entire process.

  12. My teenage kids (twelve and fifteen years old) really couldn’t care less about the actual camera or format that’s used to create an image — they just want to see an image. The photos that I take with my big, expensive Nikon are just as interesting to them as the photos that I take with my iPhone. And the video that my iPhone shoots? As far as the kids are concerned it’s perfectly acceptable

    Convergence is a word that’s been a bit overused to describe the changes taking place in technology and media. Obviously, a merging of still and moving image technology has occurred. But the big changes that I’ve seen aren’t so much centered on technology as they are on culture and expectation. Simply stated, people have become format agnostic, and they couldn’t care what sort of equipment might have been used to create an image — they just want that image to be interesting and easily accessible.

    Myself, I don’t have any real issues with the agnostic aspect of this shift — the format agnosticism, that is — though the economic shift created by this has certainly had an impact on my lifestyle.

    I suspect that the people who become the most successful in this new economic and technological model will be those that create a niche for themselves — which really isn’t that much different from the situation we had in the past. The hard part is now just figuring out what the new niches are and/or will be.

    • niche is about subject matter. forget new york or london or paris and go somewhere where no one else is. DIFFERENTIATE YOURSELF. A Leica M6 and Imacon to scan the Tri-X is all that is needed. If you really want to make big money, then, fine, go the Red Epic route. I drive A BMW 1 series on a freelance reportage income. Yes, if you want to drive an M6, then the Laforest route is a must.

  13. A complete convergence is inevitable. I wonder how much importance is going to go into composition in the future because of this? To me it seems video shots are typically framed up different than stills. Which will lose, the composition of the video, or the still shot?

    • When you see a promotional still shot from an upcoming film, that is shot with a still camera by a photographer and not a frame grab from the motion reel.

      Why? Motion reel frames are blurry. The shutter speeds are slow. They have to be. Fast shutter speeds look stroboscopic. And they’re difficult to pull off – continuous lighting has to be blinding bright as hell to use a faster shutter speed, unless you amp up the gain. Fine for sports’ infinite DOF, not fine for everything else.

      Pulling still frames out of motion reels is impractical.

      • Donnor Party

        Absolutely. Convergence, to me, is giving the client a the commercial they paid for and shooting the stills for them on the same set, but with a stills camera. Same lighting, same look, same photographer/DP/director. The client gets one invoice, and there is one creative team art directing the stills and motion. Frame grabs is a hail Mary process for when the stills didn’t work, an after thought, a sign of desperation.

  14. Steven Fao

    The Arri is… nice, & all, but it’s been superceded by the Epic because
    1) It’s twice as expensive
    2) It’s 3X the size
    3) It’s 1/4 the resolution
    4) It’s not raw

    It has 1/2 stop more DR, but Epic has HDRx which gives it 3 stops more.

    Some DP’s are still saying that the Red has bad skintones, colour problems, etc., but that’s based on the Red One’s original “M” sensor and has nothing to do with Epic. Some DP’s and assistants prefer the Alexa operationally, but again, Epic is worlds different from Red One.

    Neither camera is exactly readily available for purchase; they are being made in very limited quanities.

    • Donnar Party

      We have an upgraded Red One with the new sensor. I like the Alexa files a bit more.

      • Vadim Bobkovsky

        He’s talking about the actual Epic camera as a whole, not just the new MX sensor.

        • Donnor Party

          I got that Vadim, I was just in a hurry! I really like the Alexa files. I like the Red too, but the Alexa speaks to me more, if that makes sense. I know they are working on raw capability. I wouldn’t buy an Arri because it is priced too high, but I do rent them on occasion and work with them on other people’s shows. I’m the type DP likes the Arri operationally.

          I do like the size, price and res of the Epic. It really does open up possibilities. If only they would make more of them!

  15. I can’t believe you fell for the “sky is falling” blog post which appears useful, but is shameless self promotion and advertising. Ever heard what Vincent’s nickname by his co-workers at the NY Times and Getty? FIGJAM

    I just won POY with my iPhone, I am not worried about convergence.

      • FiGJAM (Fuck I’m Great Just Ask Me) for those of you who don’t know him personally is the biggest self-promoter ego maniac this industry has to offer. Laforme says he “refuse(s) to make an image I’ve seen before” but his work his just one cheap gimmicky imitation of other photographer’s/dp’s work with a tech spin on it. He makes me sick…

  16. “This will have a slower effect, but a more noticeable one, on the high end. Bruce Weber, Mark Seliger and Annie Leibovitz are shooting with the Epic already.”

    Does this mean Annie will get more of her double trucks in Vanity Fain actually in focus? That Canon thing really isn’t working for her.

  17. So much nonsense and misunderstanding in all this. So many people get swept away in the marketing hype.

    A still image, done properly, taken at the DECISIVE MOMENT (not a shotgun of 35fps or whatever it is) has its own message, a thousand words, that only takes ONE SECOND to understand.

    So, tell me what video can last for one second and have the same narrative for me to consume alongside text that I am reading, or on it’s own?

    • I don’t care if it’s video or a still camera that can shoot 30fps, if I need a moment, and I miss it, then give me the 30fps and give me the shot! As long as the quality is there, then my client is happy!

      Case in point:

      Two days ago, I’m shooting a wedding and I’ve got flash and a 5D MK II and 640 ISO at 1/25 sec. at f/5 and a 24 to 70 lens and I’m shooting the bouquet toss by the bride. I’ve got 2 or 3 frames to get the shot with the flash and battery back. I’ve given my assistant the same camera, no flash and a 1.2 lens. He shoots at 1/100 of a second at ISO 2000. He shoots about 8 to 10 frames.

      He gets a good shot (OK, noise, yes, but he GETS the shot.) I get a decent shot, with less noise, but he gets a better shot.

      Who is the better photographer? The guy who keeps the button pushed?

      YES!

  18. I have to comment again because as a photographer I find this insulting, and actually rather moronic, so much so that I wont be reading this blog again.

    To suggest film negates the entire history of photography is both an insult and is total ignorance.

    For a start, film isn’t new. We’ve had video cameras for decades now, and camcorders too. Why weren’t these game changers for photography then?

    A new shiny digital video camera comes out that costs thousands of dollars and is the size of a small child, and it takes inferior images to film… so this means what? I’m going to put down my tiny 35mm rangefinder and parade round with that abomination on my shoulder, then trawl through the footage hoping I’ve got an interesting still?

    Utter nonsense. People go and educate yourselves, about the differences between film and digital for a start, don’t let marketers ru(i)n the world. Think for yourselves. Anyway; camera is a camera, a video camera is a video camera – always will be. It’s like comparing apples and oranges.

    • Exactly right, hyping up rubbish like this will not change the fact that a beautifully produced film will always stand on its own, just as an absolutely great image has done and always will do. Ask any decent art director or editor, for goodness sake.. ‘hey let’s shoot on an Epic & spend the next 2 weeks running through the frames, I’m sure we’ll find something new!’

    • Brilliant. I find myself in complete agreement, other than I will continue to read here. Sometimes it is important to see another viewpoint, especially when it is something that I don’t agree with at all. Good to know what other people think.

  19. “Remember Minority Report?”…is Laforet serious? That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve read in a long time. As if futuristic movies have anything to do with what the real future looks like. I’ve seen 2001 Space Odyssey but I don’t remember the actual 2001 having much in common with what’s shown in the movie. Go figure.

  20. I don’t think this guy is wrong per se, but I think there are some key components missing from is article.

    Surly the earlier commenter is right. When Vincent was saying why would he grab his Leica when he could shoot 14mp video stills, well because his Leica can do 1/500th of a second. And its silly to think that stills at going to stay where they are. We have 80mp backs now, were going to have higher resolutions in the future that simply won’t allow video capture.

    Plus to be perfeclt honest, 3D Imaging (not like avatar, more like an image you can grab on a tablet) is probably a more accurate future for photography anyway, or holographics.

    And at the end of the day, this only applies to commercial photography. People who like using a Leica M6 can still do so on their own time.

    • Eki Halkka

      “Leica can do 1/500th of a second.”

      What makes you think Epic can’t?

      Of course it can. And more.

      In fact, Epic can do in example 1/800th and 1/50th at the same time. You can use these individually and adjust ISO on the computer to match the exposures (i.e. ISO4000 and ISO250 respectively) or merge both exposures into an HDRI that contains the full dynamic range of both exposures, giving you up to 18 stops of latitude.

      In this HDRx mode, you can shoot 60 frames per second, with 14 MP RAW, for as long as you wish to roll the camera.

      • Hmmm, I guess I certainly don’t know as much as I thought I did about how cine cameras work…fair enough. :-)

        But I still think that my point about still capture technology emerging as with moving image capture, and neither fully eclipsing the other, is valid.

        Also I truly believe that if there is going to be a revolutionary future, it will change more than simple the frames per second of our cameras. There will simply be a different kind of imaging.

        • Yes Mark you are right. I’m a Photo Editor for an ipad only magazine and we have shot on a Red Epic camera. For our medium, this is an amazing camera that works like a dream. And the way i am commissioning imagery is different as a result.

  21. Timothy F

    Please, please, everyone start shooting video. Maybe then, the still photograph that was captured with skill will have value again. We will be like the guy still making fishing lures by hand, real craftsmen. So, please, everyone shoot video. :). The Walmart customer needs it now.

  22. This article is as lame as a Nikon vs. Canon debate. Although you never hear of anyone actually doing videos with a Nikon.

      • Name some feature films and shows shot exclusively on a 5d.

        I’ve seen it used for pickups in tight spots. Canon sponsored an episode of House to be shot on it (technical reviews were mixed, especially on focus issues). I think House is still using it for tight spots.

        The camera has a lot of compromises that preclude it from being used extensively on shows with a budget to afford better equipment. Lenses especially, still lenses tend to breathe when pulling focus. Cinema lenses have expensive mechanics to counteract it.

        • It’s not just that, it’s that the resolution is low (less than 720p) the dynamic range is awful and it does lien skipping which creates weird textures on skin and other things, and very, very bad moire.

          • Donnor Party

            With enough (costly) post you can get the 5d2 footage to work, sort of, with RED/Arri/Panasonic/35mm film footage, but it shows, and it is EXPENSIVE. The artifacts from spectrals are insane, which makes it suitable for certain well controlled environments.

  23. Tim Frederick

    I want to make a more serious comment. The interview has me thinking about its content more and more. I follow Rob’s and Vincent’s blogs for their insight, and I am not a big time photographer. Yet, my feeling here is about the value of the still image from a photographer. Just like everyone else, I need to pay my bills, and I struggle to do so with my photography. However, my love for photography is not about paying my bills, it is about the passion and the creative process. Photography is the only thing I have ever been type A about. I can go, and go, without sleep, and sometimes food.

    To me, it does come down to the value of the photograph. The value, the passion, the beauty of a photograph is in its creative process of the artist/photographer. I do not know about the future either for sure, but the difference in the future for the photographer will be the image for commerce, and the photograph as art. The forward thinkers are about the buck, making it, making it big, and moving on to the next buck. Little minds like me, the dead dinosaur thinker is about the riches of creativity. I will pay my bills, I hope, but I hope production does not smother my passion.

    I do not know how to make big bucks, that is the truth I have had to accept about me. It would be great to work as an assistant for someone who does, but I am not blond, so that is out too. ;) jk Photography is dead, and the photographer killed it. Well, it will be dead when we stop taking the still photograph and seeing the joy that is there still. No, I am not missing the points Vincent is making, and I understand he is not making any finite statements about photography and gear. My point is about the joy of art and making it in the future at a decisive moment. The future is about making money, but it is also about joy.

  24. I’ll keep shooting stills because it’s what I love to do and how I feel like I can make good work. I’ll leave it to those folks who change their vision based purely on market demands to get rich while putting a bunch of worthless visual garbage and fluff out into the world. Funny thing…? more uncompromising I have gotten with my work and making it the work I want to do, the more i have been getting paid to work. I’m sure laforet is right, if you want to make work like that. There are a million different motivations for making images and these statements only really address a few of them, which is why I dont care now and why I didn’t care 5 yrs ago when David leeson was saying the same types of things.

  25. In a world full of people with ADD, and the attention span of kittens, internet video can generate interest. The advertising world likes it because it is easy to quantize views. Metrics suggest this works better than guessitmating, but are we just fooling ourselves.

    Vincent wants to become a Director. If photography moves more towards Broadcast, then the guy holding the camera just becomes a camera operator, with zero creative input. If there is any convergence, it is in who provides creative input on a project. Without bringing ideas to a project, we are no better than camera operators.

    People still read, writers still write, illustrators still work on creative projects, and still images will continue to be used. Video billboards have already been dismissed because they are a driving distraction, creating a hazard. Many, if not most, motion projects use story boards for planning. These are distinct moments in a motion piece. All great movies had those distinct moments. People without ultra-short attention spans will remember those distinct moments.

  26. I’m still a still photographer, that’s what I want to be.

    When I read stuff like this I try to not get scared or bitter. But I remember bumping into Mr Laforet’s initial blog-post-teaser about this new game-changing camera and was struck by a few things…..

    First of all, I didn’t think that the image he used to tout the camera was actually all that swell, in any number of ways.

    Then I was miffed at the way he chose to publicize the thing….a contest to “guess” what camera produced the image. I mean, come on….that really just turns the author into a hero for fanboys.

    Finally, I wondered at his adamant proselytization of motion that can yield stills.

    I suppose anything is possible (if not probable) but putting faith in a camera system is just a chumps game.

  27. John aquina

    @steve fao

    Steve,

    Your information regarding the Alexa is incorrect.

    Alexa can record RAW via Arriraw, resolution is not limited to 1920×1080, DR exceeds Epic hands downs without the need of HDR.

    Comparing the size of the Epic to the Alexa is inaccurate as the current Epic does not include all the functionality of the full sized Alexa.

    But if you must Arri will have a T sized camera head which will be ideal for 3D applications.

  28. With cloud based ‘preservation’ storage (amazon, photoshelter, etc.) the average price right now seems to be hovering around $1000/Tb/year. To properly store the data coming off these cameras (with preservation and redundancy) the costs are staggering.

    The workflow with these types of tools sucks the joy out of making images, and the long-term storage burden just plain sucks.

  29. Super Zimmer

    I don’t know if I should feel really depressed or really excited . . . .

  30. Data transfer rates, CPU speeds, RAM and data storage is being outpaced by the technology of camera and video convergence….until that technology gets better, faster and more streamlined the democratization of all this will never happen.

  31. The decisive moment is what cinema is all about; one decisive moment after another strung together to make a story. To say the decisive moment is dead, you may be referring to the skill of the photographer to press the button at just the right time – this is wrong thinking.

    Feel that emotion? Good. Now make me feel it, make me want to feel it. Does that sound like cinema or still? Convergence is here and has been here for decades; convergence of expression and story; separation has been an illusion of technology.

    The future camera? Oh hell – it will probably end up being transmitted from your eye-implant at at resolutions so high that even lens choice won’t matter. So, are we still going to be talking convergence? No.

  32. Has anyone read a business section of a newspaper lately? Who is going to pay for this stuff these days, and I am not talking about the camera. What magazine, or company is going to pay to have some guy sitting there going through video to pull a still. What photographer is going to be able to afford everything involved? The industry is going in the opposite direction with smaller crews and much smaller budgets.

    On a side note. Do you wonder why Annie is bankrupt? Did you even see that completely out of focus picture she took of me walking out of my house for VF? I was practically standing still. How do you fuck that one up?

    • Dr. Elliot McGucken

      Hey there Warren,

      I totally agree–the future will consist of photographers/reporters carrying light & inexpensive 9shooters around, which beat the RED EPIC in 99% of cases, unless you are filming AVATAR:

      http://blog.9shooter.com/2011/06/canon-based-nine-shooter-9shooter-4500.html

      And the Nikon/Canon/Sony-based 9shooter will become more and more powerful, until it even surpasses the RED. No need to spend more than $5,000 now.

      One of the disadvantages of the RED is that you can’t capture a decisive moment with a flash in the field, but you have to go home and wade through hours of content to find it again. Stills let you capture the decisive moment in the field.

      • Stephen Gentle

        What the hell is that website? Is that some kind of joke?

        By the way, the EPIC has a flash port, and you can either shoot in stills mode, or shoot high frame rate and tag stills with the button on the handle.

        This is awesome, because you don’t have to trawl through the footage (it just shows right up in the software), and you can adjust it if you missed the moment by a few frames

        • Dr. Elliot McGucken

          Do you work for Red/Epic?

          The red/epic system outfitted for stills is massive compared to the 9shooter:

          http://blog.9shooter.com/2011/06/canon-based-nine-shooter-9shooter-4500.html

          It also costs over 10x as much, while being way too cumbersome for most occasions (and all smaller photographers!), and lacking the redundancy of the 9shooter.

          The 9shooter gives you full 60p HD video and Full-Frame stills from a Canon 5D Mark ii, simultaneously, which are ideal for the vast, vast majority of fashion/advertising/broadcast/web campaigns.

          It is a simple, mechanical solution to a technological problem.

          If you need to shoot Thor or Avatar, sue go with the RED.

          And just wait until the 9shooter system with the Canon 5d Mark III and canon 5d Mark IV!

          Also, the the red has no video stabilization for handheld shots. And canon’s lenses are way better. :)

        • Yes, it is a joke.

          He posts here and other sites under many names, “portnoi halifax” above for example, and then responds to his own posts under different names trying to get people to visit his nightmare spam sites. It is a shame that he is dragging this site down like he has many others.

  33. I think bemoaning the death of the decisive moment and loathing photographers who don’t seem to care or are unqualified to catch it the old-school way is a valid point of view – but I would only buy it from people using cameras shooting less than, say, one frame per second.
    Why should anyone complain who ever used a motorized SLR? Of course, everybody (in news, events, sports, fashion…) shoots all the pictures their gear can do because everybody has found that even better shot sifting through their catch in post. Shooting 100fps is just the logical extension to what has brought us 10fps cameras today (for those who use the feature).

    Whether you are pulling stills from the video you are shooting or creating a video as a byproduct of those thousands of stills you shoot seems to be an almost philosophical question. I wish someone would post a more knowledgeable comment on whether video shot with those short exposure times won’t look unpleasing because of the lack of motion blur.

    Obviously we will be needing new tools to deal with the glut of pictures. I’m pretty sure there will be software that will help the editor pre-sort pictures by finding targeted faces in focus, throw out (or select) pictures with closed eyes, group pictures by specified facial expressions (something like “find more like this one”), automatically annotate names of recognized people etc.

    I wasn’t around, but I guess a lot of this discussion was heard each time someone suggested roll film, 35mm film, autofocus, …

  34. If the average photographer is asked by the client to shoot stills and video regardless of what camera they use, then the client is going to have to pay for all the
    extra post production work. They may just decide on the stills when they receive the
    quote. In relation to capturing the decisive moment, one thing will never change, you will have to be there to capture it and someone will be paying you for your time.

  35. I’ve been super excited ever since the 5DMKII came out. I was one of the first in my group of friends to start messing with video and have come to respect and love the motion aspect of the craft.

    I can see many parallels between the motion revolution and the transition from film to digital. Both had many artists who were comfortable upset about what was happening. I think that change happens daily but with the internet we’re all able to communicate so everything happens much faster.

    I’ve made friends in the film world fast. They are good people and are a bit nervous but I found that working together and being open in conversation has helped me and them.

    Most every shoot I do is now a combo video/stills. Currently my clients are very happy with what they get with the MKII and for web its great. We pull stills from the video and its hard to tell the difference when viewing online.

    Since I’m not shooting red what we do is have the talent go through the motions twice so that I’m able to capture stills and video if that is what is needed.

    Here’s an example of a calendar I shoot that uses both video and motion online -
    http://giuliosciorio.com/1600/18458/gallery/pinups

    Here are two tests I did with natural light and me doing all the work. I was able to shoot, edit and output each within 6 hours start to finish.

    http://giuliosciorio.com/1600/105006/gallery/whitney
    http://giuliosciorio.com/1600/104932/gallery/vladimir

    I don’t think anyone has to be scared or pissed here. For me I see an opportunity to grow as an artist and business owner. What I don’t have in gear I make up with creativity and heart.

    Thanks to Rob and Vincent for a great post!

  36. Interesting debate, my take on this as an Art Buyer is;
    Will every campaign in future be a “cut & paste” campaign? Lets assume I haven’t seen your TVC and I see your “cut & paste” print and I don’t catch the strap line-will I, as an ordinary consumer-be able to tie your campaign message together? I think not.

    • Donnar Party

      You are so right. There is just no demand from the client side, as opposed to supply/capability pushed by manufacturers and people selling capability/”vision”.

  37. One person, one view. Always question the source. He may be right, he may be wrong, he may be half-way right. Who knows? Just one opinion in many. Look at the track record.

    Yes he has access to what people are working on for the future. That may be vital information.

    Personally, I don’t trust much of what I read on blogs these days. I like Rob and I don’t know Vincent. I know that many people respect him and others don’t.

    I know people that know him and think well of him, others think less of him because of the promotional aspects of his career.

    However, I’ll read his thoughts and take them into consideration but nothing more than that.

  38. DC-Photographer

    He may have access to the latest gear, but personally, my kids are worth than iPhone images. When my 3 kids are my age (mid 40s), I want them all to have trannies & negatives and some really nice large prints I made, not jpgs from a god damn phone (if jpegs will still exist in 30 years — I doubt it).

    As fas the decisive moment issue, I disagree with the prediction of its demise. To use another philosophical phrase, if all images are the decisive moment, then none are. The magic is indeed in the split second, not the tera-byte stream. There are not enough editors capable of identifying a magic image embedded in a couple million frames.

    The other anthropological-sociogical-biological challenge is that people tend to remember fleeting moments, not long streams. Experiences that really excite the unconscious are singular and often ambiguous, and that’s why, aesthtics aside, still images are so powerful and will likely retain that power.

      • This about sums it up: from the seesaw piece.

        AS: I feel like it’s a very exciting time for photography right now, because people who are truly invested in the medium are working incredibly hard to find out what else can happen within it. As a result, it seems that much of the detritus that has surrounded photography in the recent past seems to be disappearing.

        CC: How would you characterize the ‘detritus’ that you’re happy to be rid of?

        AS: More recently, I would include the notion of photographer as ‘artiste’.

        CC: Yes, so over!

        AS: The super-ego-driven, ‘genius’ aspect of photography seems to be evaporating. Yes, people are still canonized – which I’m just as guilty of participating in as anybody, and there are certainly figures in the medium whom I think are deserving of such a distinction – but the notion that canonization is the primary driving factor for living, working practitioners is becoming irrelevant. To be honest, I think that phase in photography went by pretty quickly – before 1965 it wasn’t really an option, and now it’s collapsing, so it only really lasted three or four decades. And to a certain extent, that’s a relief to me, because I feel that people can now get on with the business of making work that that is really important to them, rather than trying to satisfy a very narrow marketplace, or chasing fame and glory. So that’s one aspect of photography that I think, or at least hope, is disappearing.

        Emphasis mine.

  39. In the end, this is about the product that the end client needs. If video grabs become good enough or as good as stills AND the vision of the “Director/Photographer” is appropriate and purposeful, then it DOESN’T MATTER.

    Ask yourself, “Is it your vision?” “Are you being hired for your vision?” If so, it doesn’t matter if your camera is on motor drive with tri-X or you have a Red Violet Camera or Red Sunburst camera or Red Rainbow camera: it’s your vision that drives the project. And this has been the same throughout the history of the visual arts.

    Do you think Steven Spielberg is concerned with the camera his DP is using?

  40. We had an opportunity to experiment with an Epic earlier this month. We tested different compressions and frame speeds, even got our hands on some serious master lenses. After a day of playing, we grabbed a couple stills from the shoot and took them over to Getty to see if they’d pass their incredibly strict image submission standards. Our still grabs was so sharp, Andrew Delaney (DP Getty NY) thought they were a static shots. He said we are the first people to come in and pass the test. The Epic is definitely where it’s at.
    karen

  41. Commercial photographer’s will be led by their clients wishes and needs. THAT is the only absolute statement one can make about the future.

    Other photographers, on the other hand, will continue to do what they’re doing and always have done and clients will continue to hire them. Why? Simply put because its inconceivable to imagine a world where images are no longer needed or have ben replaced by video. We’ve had images with us since the beginning of our civilization (cave paintings) and I don’t think we’ll ever get to a point where we consider them obsolete. I think anyone who says ‘the image is dead’ is someone not considering every single aspect of the issue.

    On the issue of grabbing a still from video, I like that idea but cringe at the thought of exactly how long it would take to decide on what the decisive moment was when presented with infinite options. 96 frames a second?!!! NO THANK YOU!

    Also, can you even call yourself a photographer if all you do is hold the button down? What a soulless approach to photography. <:( Perhaps it means I'll never be a ultra rich commercial photographer, but I choose to let my instincts guide me to the decisive moment. If I fail, I fail. That's the way the world works. Anything else can be nothing but cheating and not worthy of respect. When you're doing the same thing as a monkey can do, but laud it as great…you might need your head examined.

    • “when you can do the same thing as a monkey can do, but laud it as great…you might need your head examined.”

      AGREED! I love this statement…

  42. Vincent,

    I could not agree with you more after months of having the pleasure to use our RED EPIC M cameras, with Master Primes and RED PRO PRIMES (the Red Pro Prime 50mm actually turned out sharper then our Master Prime 50mm Wow) I concur on everything you said, and more, we have sold al our inventory of Medium format cameras, and only kept the Canon 1Ds III till we get Flash sync enabled on Epic, just in case we need to pull off something nuts.

    Wit our first Ever gallery to come form Motion grabs out of Epic, we are ready to surprise people big time, this will be prints, large prints, in both standard 2D Monoscopic pictures format and 3D, to be viewed with Anaglyphic glasses, no not the paper kind, nice eye ware will be provided here in Rome… ;)

    Again it was a pleasure meeting you in Vegas during NAB, and let you hold our precious M8… ;)

    Keep up the great work and say hi if you come to Rome, Italy.

    Ciao,

    KETCH ROSSi

  43. Great interview, I totally agree with Vincent except for one point: story telling. Still photographer need to learn THIS part if they wanna be DOP and photographer at the same time.

  44. Interesting dialogue all around. However, all this techno talk about which tools to use leaves me wondering where the buyers are for the products of these new tools? People have been going to movies for about 70 years and they did not ask what camera it was shot with. Consumers buy magazines, newspapers, and print media without asking what camera was used.
    The discussion I want to see is this, if I buy a Red whatever, an Arri whatever, a Canon or Nikon whatever, HOW will that bring me MORE paying clients? It seems we had plenty of video shooters way before the 5d ever came our way. Turning still shooters into video shooters DOES NOT create more clients! Let’s focus on the business of photography, not the resolution. Just my two cents.

  45. Tim, dude. Wow. Great words there, man. This blog is like the craziest roller coaster ride. I’m a little stressed from reading it all, but your entry sort of brought it all back down to earth.

    The irony is I’m a “video guy.” but my current job title is “media specialist” where I have to be both a “videographer” (hate that word) AND a photographer. And let me say this to all the still photographers out there: you have a beautiful thing. No amount of video gadgetry can replace the simple beauty of capturing moments. (I actually now prefer photography over cinematography.)

    In fact, as a video guy, I am going on record to say that still photography will not die, it will simply show up differently on the other side of the carousel.

    Here’s what I mean. Yes, I get what Vincent is saying. In fact, I am living out the tension between stills and video most every shoot I go on. And yes, that would be awesome to have continuous “super” “ultra” “high res” images. But the time involved in selecting those images is way too cumbersome. The demands of the web and social media will force us all to be faster in the posting process. So ask yourself, who is better equipped to weed through myriads of still frames? A still photographer.

    Yes, changes are happening. And yes, Vincent has point. But still photography will not die. I put my money on people like Tim who will be breaking new ground long after Vincent has faded from the scene.

  46. The Federal Govt. is operating so far outside of its design parameters that this type of discussion is futile. In my opinion the place to begin is reducing tax which would force massive reductions in power and programs, bringing the govt. more in line with the founders structure. Only then can a discussion vis-a-vis federal and state govts. become worthwhile.