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Combining Motion and Stills shoots: Is It Practical?


Francis Kuhn
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I've gotten a barrage of emails about this Collision Conference being held at the Los Angeles Film School on August 29th and 30th.

 

http://www.imagemechanicsexpo.com/

 

Among the keynote speakers are DP Shane Hurlbut and Canon-sponsored photographer Vincent Laforet. They will be discussing "the future" of motion and stills and how shoots can be combined to provide clients with both video and stills from the same shoot, using the same camera. BTW it's $350 to attend! They say these kinds of seminars thrive in hard times as everyone looks for an edge in getting work.

 

I'd love to hear what these guys have to say (and ask them some hard questions), because from my real-world experience it is impractical to shoot both video and stills at the same time unless it's under very controlled circumstances. Or unless you're able to find the budget to bring a film crew--including a good focus-puller--on every still shoot. Especially with the insanely shallow DOF of these large-chip cameras. And then there's the whole shutter speed dilema (1/48th is great for motion, but generally lousy for stills) But that's just me (and I've been wrong plenty of times).

 

Anyone else have an opinion about this?

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And then there's the whole shutter speed dilema (1/48th is great for motion, but generally lousy for stills) But that's just me (and I've been wrong plenty of times).

 

Anyone else have an opinion about this?

 

 

That's gotta be the deal breaker. I can't see motion work being acceptable as anything else, but it's just not a fast enough speed for shooting stills because it's not sharp enough...

 

 

jb

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John,

 

Yes, the 1/48th thing is a huge problem in the stills world.

 

Then there are other little things like, oh, strobes vs. continuous lighting: Most of the stills studios I know of--where you could possibly have enough control over conditions to actually try to shoot both stills and motion--use strobe lighting for stills. I believe cameras like the RED and have an issue with strobe due to the rolling shutter, right? So now you have to get a 10-ton truck full of hot lights. Maybe a tow-behind genny. And you probably want to throw in a Technocrane to keep the motion part of the shoot somewhat interesting.

 

All this while clients everywhere are slashing budgets.

 

-Fran

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This is, to a limited extent, being done in ads already.

 

Plus, there is always a stills photographer on set.

 

 

This may be a tired cliche, but it rings true here: Jack of all trades master of none.

 

 

Karl,

 

Good point. Actually, the whole idea is nothing new. One of the old-time Creative Directors I worked with told me they were always trying to grab frames from the 35mm commercial film they would shoot in the '60s and '70s. It was rarely good enough. Plus, a lot of print ads were a vertical format, so the slice they were trying to extract was really quite small compared to what they could shoot with a still camera.

 

-Fran

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Good points. I cannot see Shane Hurlbut being easily fooled into something like this unless there are some good answers to the 1/48 shutter (and other) questions, though. Please keep us posted if you do attend, $350 is a lot of money.

 

And yes, rolling shutter and strobes / some fluorescent lights can be hard to make play together. This is one of my biggest qualms to non-mechanical shutter motion picture cameras. Oh, and electronic viewfinders. Imho, the folks at RED should design digital mags for Arris, Aatons, even Panavision cameras, etc. But perhaps most production people are still not interested in this as a viable alternative, as insane as that sounds.

 

http://www.urbanfox.tv/articles/cameras/c19joedunton.htm

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It's hard enough just using one camera to shoot a movie. Then you bring in B camera and get shots that you aren't lit for. I guess they could stop the production at the end of the scene, make some shutter speed changes and shoot some stills. But then you'd hold up the entire production. The positive is that you don't need but so many stills. You don't need to shoot every set up. Still crews are generally smaller than film crews but what takes precedent the stills or the movie or commercial? It reminds of how video was supposed to save money and time but when it first started being used, you rolled on everything. What you saved on film, you spent on editors sifting through piles of video tape.

 

I guess Shane was available and they got him to do this. If he wasn't available it would have been someone else. $350 is a lot of money in this economy.

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Good points. I cannot see Shane Hurlbut being easily fooled into something like this unless there are some good answers to the 1/48 shutter (and other) questions, though. Please keep us posted if you do attend, $350 is a lot of money.

 

And yes, rolling shutter and strobes / some fluorescent lights can be hard to make play together. This is one of my biggest qualms to non-mechanical shutter motion picture cameras. Oh, and electronic viewfinders. Imho, the folks at RED should design digital mags for Arris, Aatons, even Panavision cameras, etc. But perhaps most production people are still not interested in this as a viable alternative, as insane as that sounds.

 

http://www.urbanfox.tv/articles/cameras/c19joedunton.htm

 

Hi Saul,

 

For $350 I will not be attending. It appears to be a manufacturers' sales pitch geared towards still photographers who know little or nothing about how different motion and stills shoots are. IMO it should be paid for by the many sponsors, with free admission for those interested in learning about and possibly purchasing the equipment. But I have no doubt it will be well attended. :)

 

FWIW, after RED trademarked the Digital Stills and Motion Camera name, I posed many of these questions at REDuser and never got a viable explanation (or even much of a response, for that matter). I can see where having this capability might be useful (and fun) at times, but it just doesn't seem realistic for real-world circumstances.

 

-Fran

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Even with the shutter problem, you don't shoot stills and motion the same way. I'm sure a lot of the still work that might be done would be for magazine or other print purposes, in which case a vertical format would make the most sense a majority of the time....but I haven't seen any commercials recently in a vertical aspect ratio, so.... I would be interested to hear what they said, but for 350? Ouch.

Edited by Ryan Thomas
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I gather the Canon HD DSLR was developed for use by news stills photographers working for organizations like Reuters, so that they could also shoot web news video material without them also sending a video crew. I gather this is the reason this for these cameras currently only having 30p and everything being designed for using the automatic settings.

 

Although, it better not be a fast moving news story because you'll end up with compromises and shots in the wrong format. Although news stills people tend to carry a number of camera bodies anyway, so one could be just used for video, but most tend to be looking for those stills moments, rather than complete pieces of action. Also. news editors tend to be more interested in getting an image that can be quickly turned around, rather than if it's the best quality photograph possible.

 

News is one thing, but I suspect this is like a number of other processes, you can do two tasks, but you have to accept the compromises that come with it. It's not the thing for high end work, but there are a lot of people out there just looking at the bottom line.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Take a look at this simple video and you might get a different take on this issue.

 

 

This is photojournalist Dan Chung's work for the UK Guardian newspaper. "Newspapers" are in flux, too. It's a nice short film and this guy is doing good work combining the feel of a traditional photo essay with the look of motion picture production, and the work appears in a new, popular medium - the internet.

 

In one regard, you have to admit it is good work. The question is, will there really be a market for this or not? Is it better than picking up an issue of LIFE magazine? (When is the last time you picked up an issue of LIFE magazine?)

 

The technology exists, and on SOME level it is beginning to merge motion and still methods and uses. The skilled cameramen are out there. Will there be a market? That may be the real question.

 

The NYTimes tried to charge a premium for their best web content, and failed. They are NOT doing well financially, and neither are most other newspapers - but they all keep spending more and more on their internet sites, adding content such as this while more and more people are canceling their cable subscriptions and getting their news on the internet. There seems to be some expectation that these Mainstream media outlets will continue to evolve towards a niche market, on demand model.

 

People who like Faux news watch Fox. Progressives tune in to Kieth Obermann and Jon Stewart - but increasingly more via their computer....

 

I saw the ads for this conference and thought it was interesting, but figured I'd wait to read about it later. I'm not sure what anyone can tell us at this point - it's a subject that is so new that even people who are at the cutting edge of it can't yet say what may come.

 

Dan Chung's work is just one example of what's happening, and it is happening because someone is paying him to do it... but it needs to be discussed.

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The British broadcasting Service BBC is championing high frame rate television that shoots at 300 frames per second and downconverts to 100 frames per second. I think if you could shoot video at these speeds you could get some excellent frame grabs from the footage.

Edited by Thomas James
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The British broadcasting Service BBC is championing high frame rate television that shoots at 300 frames per second and downconverts to 100 frames per second. I think if you could shoot video at these speeds you could get some excellent frame grabs from the footage.

 

Can you please link to this information ?

 

jb

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Just Google "high frame rate television" and look for a BBC link.

 

The only link I could find was for a BBC engineer who posted his internal White paper ?

 

I think you have misrepresented the views of the BBC Thomas. How about you not say say the BBC "Champion" 300 FPS tv but, refer instead to what it actually is.....a BBC white paper by a few of their engineers.

 

This is clearly NOT the BBC championing 300 FPS television. So how about you RETRACT that gross generalisation for starters ?

 

There are numerous (mostly insurmountable for the next few years) issues that have already been mentioned on these lists, namely ISO senstitivity, light flicker, and the fact that even these supposedly pro 300 guys were limited to 25 second takes from their vision research camera. Red struggles to do 4K @ 30 FPS. So then times 10 for the drive space as well of course.

 

But really the biggest objection..

 

NOBODY WANTS IT. Aside from you and a few engineers...(yeah and james cameron right ?)

 

Every time you post this idea, us "creatives" line up to say why we don't like the *look* of it...something engineers always seem to forget with their endless bouncing ball motion perception experiments. Just because you can measure something as being better doesn't mean it is. And even if we did like it, (which 99% of don't) then it won't be happening practically within the next 5 years will it ?

 

jb ( and i love the way yanks think the BBC is synonymous with quality and expertise in television )

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My digital cable network can't manage SD without freezing and picture locks, so it's rather pointless except as research (or specialised systems such as simulators or entertainment park rides ) to push higher frame rate TV until networks are in place that can handle this.

 

The BBC currently has enough problems with the digital switch over and introducing HD. Anyway, 3d TV is more likely before high frame rate television.

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You seem to forget that if you shoot video at higher framerates such as 100, 120 or even 300 frames per second you can always downconvert to any frame rate that you like such as 24 or 30 frames per second to preserve the film look. Just as super sampling at higher resolutions up to 4k is used to produce the best standard definition or high definition, super sampling at higher frame rates can be used to produce the best 24 frames per second footage. When super sampling at higher frame rates the shutter speed can be adjusted and optimized in post which is something that you just cannot do if you shoot at lower frame rights. This way you can fine tune the exact amount of motion blurring that you want for each frame.

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When super sampling at higher frame rates the shutter speed can be adjusted and optimized in post which is something that you just cannot do if you shoot at lower frame rights. This way you can fine tune the exact amount of motion blurring that you want for each frame.

 

Try telling a producer and why spend your limited budget on this when you can spend it on something that's actually on screen giving you real production values?

 

Using the RED for stills seems to involve fashion shows and it's being used more as a fast motor drive to catch moments of movement and the clothes rather than used as a video camera at the same time.

Edited by Brian Drysdale
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When super sampling at higher frame rates the shutter speed can be adjusted and optimized in post which is something that you just cannot do if you shoot at lower frame rights. This way you can fine tune the exact amount of motion blurring that you want for each frame.

 

 

How do you do that Thomas ??

 

jb

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It seems like the cameras of the future will of course be hybrid digital still motion capture systems that will shoot higher resolution still photographs simultaneously with lower resolution video streams. Then the higher resolution still photographs will be used to enhance the fine detail of the video stream. The higher resolution still photographs will also be able to increase the dynamic range of the video stream so you will no longer have blown out highlights and crushed blacks.

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It seems like the cameras of the future will of course be hybrid digital still motion capture systems that will shoot higher resolution still photographs simultaneously with lower resolution video streams. Then the higher resolution still photographs will be used to enhance the fine detail of the video stream. The higher resolution still photographs will also be able to increase the dynamic range of the video stream so you will no longer have blown out highlights and crushed blacks.

 

How does this work if the camera is moving? Or. is this a case of each video frame having a high quality still photograph? If that's the case, why have the video stream, with the hassle of recording extra data?

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Why would each video frame have to have a corresponding high quality still photograph ? 10 high quality still photographs captured each second would be more than adequate to capture motion and even that may be overkill. When combined with the lower quality video stream you end up with the equivalent of 60 high quality stills that are captured each and every second so you always capture the perfect shot. It sounds to me that this technology of digital still motion capture is the most efficient system of compression ever devised. Ultimately this means you can easily shoot Imax quality footage at a 1000 frames per second by the proper mix of photographs of various resolutions although some of the photographs will be extremely low resolution.

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  • 2 weeks later...
How do you do that Thomas ??

 

jb

 

I actually attend the Los Angeles Film School, so I got to go for free. The entire experience was pretty interesting, although it didn't quite convince me on the capabilities of the Canon 5D Mark II. As you likely know, 5DMKII is currently incapable of 24p, which for us narrative filmmakers, is a deal breaker right there. Though this is something that is almost certainly going to be featured in the next model (the 7D) I'm not quite sure that still/motion cams are going to fit a wide market. My day job as I go through school is as a wedding videographer for a company called Elysium Productions, and though I use my own gear I often work with other videographers who choose to shoot with the 5DMKII since most of the work we do is at 30F or 60i. The footage is gorgeous....for weddings. For narrative, any one of us could spot 30F vs. 24p (or 24F if you use Canon like me) from a mile away with one eye closed.

 

The Red demonstration/lecture though....well that blew me away.

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. My day job as I go through school is as a wedding videographer for a company called Elysium Productions, and though I use my own gear I often work with other videographers who choose to shoot with the 5DMKII since most of the work we do is at 30F or 60i. The footage is gorgeous....for weddings. For narrative, any one of us could spot 30F vs. 24p (or 24F if you use Canon like me) from a mile away with one eye closed.

 

The Red demonstration/lecture though....well that blew me away.

 

 

Gday Sean.

 

I was actually asking Thomas a question he can't seem to answer. You haven't either, and that's fine.

 

Thomas was suggesting that that motion blur (shutter speed) can be changed in post.

 

jb

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