Feb 8, 2010

Future of commercial photography and film?

I'm not sure what this means for the future of photography, particularly in the world of advertising and commercial photography which I'm a part of, but the fact that computer generated images are this realistic, makes me wonder.  Alex Roman delivers the most compelling argument I've seen for computer generated (CG) imagery especially when we're talking about one guy pulling this all together not the whole Avatar team down in Weta NZ for example.  It's pretty insane to think about.  What blows me away is not just the realistic nature of every frame in this film, but the level of art he achieves as well.  There's an interesting discussion taking place at "A Photo editor" with predictions about whether CG will or will not take over the role of a photographer as we know it.  It's a fact that Photography and film are becoming more and more about compositing the "pieces" together to make the final image than shooting everything "in frame".  This bow hunting image is an example from my own portflio (rain, clouds, lightning all composite work).  Unfortunately or fortunately depending on your perspective, in the commercial world it's a question of resources and if the "same" film or photograph can be made cheaper, that notion will rule the day.  Here's another example on the topic:

What are your thoughts?  Does any of this affect the type of photography you do or how you view the world of photography? Chime in!  All I know, is I that I have a ton of real, "live" locations to visit all over the world with photographs to be made in each and CG won't do any of them justice!  

Park City Utah, Photographer


Freddy said...

Hi Kevin!
love your work
I'm a CG artist for a living, but happen to love photography also, I don't do the second proffesionally, but I practice and study a lot in hopes of doing so some day.
I don't neccesarily think that CG is going to replace photography, I see it more as just another tool, to create a compeling image.
Based on experience I can tell you that cg is not neccesarily cost efficient. But under the right settings it can provide aid in ways you wouldn't normally be able to achieve through just the lens.
I think this is also like the idea of video replacing photography, cause all the DSLR's shoot HD video these days, and most major photographers all hell bent in being directors.
It's just another medium that aids with visual communication, and I personally think it should only be viewed as such.
here's my stuff in case there's any curiosity.

Kevin Winzeler said...

Hey Freddy,

Thanks for the insight, especially coming from your CG background. I don't see CG replacing photography either, but it seems cost and time to delivery will only go down in the future, as technology continues to ramp up. Certain "fields" of photography also seem to be under more scrutiny and thus future competition (product and auto photography comes to mind). It's a fun roller coaster to be a part of, but I'll admit, makes me think "strategically" every day. The video revolution is as equally interesting and has me caught up wondering also, although I really do enjoy the art of motion and directing. To make a living commercially, you have to ask yourself where the eyeballs are and with YouTube views up 40+%, magazines folding left and right and easy access to HD video via your DSLR, it's easy to get nervous and "jump" into video out of fear. I've always felt that the number goal is to go after your passions. If video, CG, etc. are included on that list, then great. Otherwise, stick to becoming a better photographer and finding those niches that pay for your work (if you do it for a living)

BTW - just checked out your demo real and was really impressed. Great stuff! Keep up the photography as well, it's probably a blast to be able to blend the two per your self portrait.

Darrell said...

There's just no words to describe the insane realism in that video package. I think that a plus on the old dSLR or SLR's side of the court is accessibility. A normal schmo like me can pick up a camera and play with lighting and a copy of PhotoShop or Pixelmator and turn out some compelling images. On the other hand, I'd never be able to grab a book from Barnes and Noble and teach myself to put together a CGI video capable of truly challenging the borders of reality.

Economically - advertising companies are pinching pennies - they're going to marketplaces like Flickr for images to run in their campaigns - I know, because I've sold some off my Flickr account with no advertising or effort of my side. Not just local either - I've sold images for ads to advertising agencies in Texas, Mexico, California, and most recently to one in Ireland! As cool as CGI is, it's got to be expensive on the labor / education and hardware / software side of the equation. Those costs have to be forwarded on to someone. I think photography still offers bang for the buck and an equally visceral response. A great image is a great image - period - be it a photo, CGI, painting, sticker on a bus. You touched on it - cost is king.

Print companies have toyed with video and CGI - like Esquire in the recent past - so it's obvious the tide is turning - but just how high the tide will go before receding is unknown at this point. It does make for interesting conversation though. For now, I can easily keep a few copies of my favorite mags in the bathroom...but I won't be stacking up any laptops or iPads in there anytime soon ;-)

Roger said...

Wow the video looks real. I thought it was shot on a red camera or something.
This video looks more real than the CGI in major hollywood blockbusters.
CGI wont replace photo or video anytime soon. Takes too much work. Its faster to shoot it than to make it.
Again, like the big budget movies they spend a few months shooting the movie and the rest is spend on editing and special effects/cgi

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