With the new RED cameras, 4k on the move, and RAW workflow becoming increasingly popular, it is almost certain that frame-grabbing video is going to be the norm in the near future. Funny how technology moves so fast, and how the industry reacts. Videographers are complaining about loosing jobs to photographers as everyone can now shoot video with the DSLR’s. And photographers are fearing that their role is soon to be obsolete with the videographer’s ability to frame grab from video in full res. Even Getty Images accepts RED frame-grabs for their content! So is photography dead? Will all photo pro’s have to jump on the video bandwagon to keep jobs coming in? Lets discuss.
First and foremost, there is increasing request for media. And media is now lumped into a general umbrella of photos, video, pre-rolls, banners, web ads, and more. So yes, there are many companies out there that want more, more, more; and not so much better, better, better. This is where the frame-grabs are great. We can provide more media without adding a ton more cost to the client. But though these requests are increasingly the norm, there will always be the need for excellence as well. There are still companies out there that don’t want to spend $5000 for fifty exclusive rights frame-grabs, and two thirty sec spots, and four pre-rolls; they want to spend $20,000 on five to ten great images. And though we see more and more media coming at us in all directions, I see a general degradation in quality all around. I think in the future, marketing departments will see this trend, and give the video shoots their budget, and the photo shoots theirs, instead of trying to link them all together to save some cash. When the film team can focus on getting what they need, and the photo team can focus on their job, the quality goes up on both sides.
This is not to say that frame-grabbing doesn’t have it’s place! It certainly does add a serious perk to a client on the cusp of “yes or no” and is a great add-on to what producers can provide. So yes, frame grabbing does help. I can shoot a resort and throw in 20 frame-grabs for web media, email blasts, small print, etc…but that one, hot-shot photo that belongs on the cover of Travel Magazine? That should stay it’s own shoot, and have it’s own team. In other words, if you have a client that wants a billboard shot, don’t throw it in with your video package…call on your photographers. For everything else, frame-grab away.
Now, frame-grabing, though awesome, also has it’s downsides that are worth bringing up. Many clients don’t understand what shutter speed is. This is a tough one to explain when a client wants you to frame grab a motocross jump that you shot for a TV commercial. In most instances you can’t frame grab action shots as a still camera you would shoot say 1/1000, and the RED you’re shooing at 1/48. So before you go offering all these stills, you better know what you are shooting so your client doesn’t call wondering why all their stills are blurry (or why your moto jump TV ad looks like the Gladiator battle). Will shutter be in issue in the future? Who knows. But for now beware of what you say you can produce. Some other issues to think about are weight, startup time, ergonomics, speed, autofocus speed, and more. Not to mention the huge question of “does this save me time?” One of the best wedding photographers I know went back to film and swears it saves her 30 hours a week in post alone!
So is photography dead? Not at all, it is alive and well. On the other hand, frame grabbing has it’s place in the world, all I can say about the frame grabs I’m getting on architecture, and model shots is WOW! I can’t believe this is possible. We are in exciting times for the industry, and who knows what will be next. Here are a few RED grabs from my most recent shoot.