Putting photogs in the video picture

Creating video has been touted as the way of the future for news websites, yet it has been largely ignored by news photographers due to time constraints.

However, Canon account manager Rick Slowgrove reckons news photographers have a chance to use their unique skills to create video from a perspective not usually seen.

“There’s a big opportunity to create short films, or short stories, that tell news in a different environment, and in a way different to TV,” Mr Slowgrove said.

“Newspapers have a chance to get involved and do it differently; to use the skills of a photographer to enhance what they’re doing.”

Mr Slowgrove said the imaging world was undergoing a revolution with the advent of YouTube, Instagram and the proliferation of smartphones.

In the third quarter of 2013, smartphone sales grew by almost 50 per cent compared to the same quarter last year, with more than 250 million sales worldwide. Technology is advancing so rapidly that smartphone cameras are now capable of capturing images and videos that are up there with most compacts.

In May 2013, the Chicago Sun-Times laid off its entire photography department in favour of freelance photographers and training journalists to use iPhones.

All journalists were made to learn the basics of iPhone photography, video editing, and sending and uploading content remotely through social media.

Mr Slowgrove acknowledged that smartphone photography and videography had its place, especially during breaking news, but they could never truly replace traditional, professional photographers with DSLRs or video cameras.

“We all want our news five minutes ago,” he said, “but photographers see light better than anyone else.”

Mr Slowgrove said shooting video was the same as shooting photos, and photographers had the ability to get behind a camera and produce something different to the usual video output.

DSLR technology was evolving just as rapidly as smartphone technology, with a wide range of DSLRs now available, with some capable of capturing 4K footage, or ultra-high definition footage, he said.

While the 4K-capable Canon EOS 1DC camera body will set a consumer back upwards of $AU10,000, some bodies are available for less than $AU1000.

Rival camera company Nikon also has a range of video-capable DSLR cameras, with prices ranging from $AU400 for the entry-level D3200 body, to around $6000 for its flagship D4.

However, Nikon currently lacks a DSLR capable of capturing 4K footage.

Some mastheads have already begun to experiment with more unconventional methods of capturing video.

The Newcastle Herald has opted to not only use conventional video cameras but also to use GoPros, high-definition personal cameras often used in extreme sports, which can be placed in unconventional places.

However, GoPros do have their disadvantages in an inability to capture quality audio, and a slight fish-eye effect, due to the wide angle lens on the camera.

Mr Slowgrove said DSLRs have the advantage of versatility, being able to be customised to suit any situation.

A wide range of lenses can change the suitability of DSLR cameras, from ultra wide angle lenses to long range lenses for sports, and each can be used for video as well as still photography.

“Video is made up of three things: video footage itself, the edit, and audio – with audio being probably the most important,” Mr Slowgrove said.

“You can watch some of the greatest movies without sound, and you’ll turn them off in seconds.”

While the default audio recording ability of DSLRs is limited, it can also be customised with the addition of on-camera shotgun microphones, and external audio which can be synced in post-production.

Similarly, a range of rigs are available to which the camera can be mounted to allow for smoother movement, and a wider range of actions and shots.

Rigs are also able to be customised with a range of external accessories like lights, microphones, focus pullers, and more.

Mr Slowgrove admitted that mastheads may find DSLR photography and videography an expensive investment, but said news photographers had talents and an unrivalled ability to tell a story through images.

“The thing is with video, you’re not going to produce a video that’s decent in five minutes,” Mr Slowgrove said.

“Whether it can produce monetary value on return, that’s hard to decipher.

“However, I think photographers have a great opportunity to take on this new medium, and do it differently than has been done before.”

Canon is a sponsor of The Newspaper Works.

For more news from The Newspaper Works, click here.

2 comments

  1. Here is a bloke talking about a dynamic, exciting and inspiring new(ish) way to cover news and features, from a brand that is all those things itself, and what do we get? A locked-off video and a talking head for 3.14 secs … not a single example of what this is all about – vision and movement. In fact, not even a close-up look at the products he is talking about, just a boring static shot. No I don’t want to go to Canon’s website for all that – I read The Newspaper Works for succinct, cogent information. This is just plain bloody lazy, not very informative at all and not likely to have the punters rushing into their Canon store. Big fail from TNW and Canon. And this email is from a journalist, not a photog.

  2. Best tell the shooter to stick to video and then grab stills from that. Trying to do both without dedicated rigs is too difficult to reliably do on a consistent basis.
    Once you have made the decision to take stills from video you may as well have a dedicated video cam not a DSLR.
    As he says in the article sound is probably the most important part of the equation and the most difficult to capture properly. I nearly spat my coffee through my nose when he started talking about post-synching sound recorded from another device. He obviously works on a monthly publication.

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