Image Source’s tips for shooting cross-media

April 14th, 2010 by

Last week I wrote about video/still productions. I had asked Image Source for comments but wasn’t able to work in the response. Since Image Source’s Lisa Curesky’s response was lengthy and informative, I decided to run it as a guest post. (I have no connection nor any direct experience working with Image Source,  except to say that I have known and respected the company for many years. Founder and CEO, Christina Vaughn, is profiled here)

Guest post by Lisa Curesky | Director of Photography, The Americas | Image Source US Inc.

In Ellen’s last post she raised the question, “To video or not”?

I am coming from the thick of things at Image Source, where we’ve spent the better part of a year creating and launching our new Cross Media product to offer our clients matching stills and motion. I thought I would share some of what we’ve learned in our experience with producing cross-media.

There is no question that getting into motion or cross media can be an intimidating process. We have produced elaborate cross media productions with 30 models along with still and motion crews on the same set, using the RED camera with tracks and a 400 lb dolly and we have done simple shoots using minimal crew, available light and a tripod and gotten stellar results from both approaches. Regardless of your approach, you must do your homework and have a great shoot brief that outlines each shot from start to finish. You can’t just “wing it”.

Just as a still image can fail so can a video clip, but even more so. The briefs that our art directors prepare for cross media are more complex and include sample video clips (to showcase a camera movement or cut) and storyboards for each motion shot – in addition to what they normally put into a brief. The shoots become highly scripted but the action still has to look natural.

Not every clip has to have someone moving or interacting wildly. Just as in a still shot, body language and small nuances in direction can make for a beautiful moment. We are shooting a variety of subject matters, some more lifestyle based and some more conceptual, but at the end of the day, there has to be a message in whatever you are trying to convey. Ellen mentioned in her blog post that motion needs to follow the same general subject guidelines as still stock imagery. Image Source is shooting some of the classic themes over again for our offering. We view this as an opportunity to look at what is missing in the market for motion and shoot it as a cross media production.

Demand for the ever-popular themes of families, business, seniors and healthcare, for example, doesn’t change over time, regardless of the medium. Many basic themes, as you mention Ellen, have been “shot to death” but there is always a way to make them look fresh and relevant again. Tying motion and stills together is just one exciting way to breath new life into these topics.

But what does today’s family look like? What are the current issues in healthcare that need to be addressed and what is the new “new economy”? Working closely with an agency that guides a photographer in the direction of what is needed is as important as ever. Collaboration is key.

We continue to think ahead to where the demands of clients will gravitate as new technologies emerge – just think of what the new tablets (like the iPad) are doing to bring “print” into a new era.   We are keeping our eyes on 3-D as another area to watch.

If you are thinking about adding motion to your portfolio I suggest that you partner with an agency that is going to give you support. Currently, Image Source is offering art direction and production support to photographers who want to get their feet wet with cross media. We are working within their budgets and most importantly; we are able to do all post-production on the stills and motion after the shoot.

Here is an example of something that highlights our  cross-media productions.

We often consider whether or not the photographer should be shooting the video or directing it. That is something that merits consideration, especially for photographers with no prior experience with motion. The value of good, smooth camera work cannot be underestimated. One approach is to hire or collaborate with a DP or camera operator to start, as there is some comfort in having someone who has experience on the motion side that can work behind the camera while the photographer directs. Hopefully that same person can also deliver final edited files, if you are not well versed in video editing software.

I don’t know if stock video will “save” the incomes of those who are suffering a reduction in royalties, but it does give another revenue stream in an era of convergence and cross media when many advertising and editorial clients are looking for photographers who can offer both options in their portfolios. So, at the moment, there is still time to be a big fish in a small pond if you plan to shoot still and motion together.