Edit Day At UCI

Shaunt's Edit BayTuesday was an edit day for my project at UC Irvine. It’s a training video for distance learning instructors.

A project like this has three stages: writing, shooting, editing. You try and follow a roadmap, but ideas change, things are fluid.

Editing is where stories are made or lost. It’s critically important, but functionally unknown to most outsiders. Video editors often work alone in windowless closet sized rooms with video monitors and the constant whir of computer fans.

Shaunt Kouyoumdjian, who shot our video, is editing. All the clips are in a server. Sony Vegas is running, mathematically pasting together snippets of video. Shaunt commands an arsenal of electronic wizardry which treats video like Photoshop treats stills! Even for this simple production, some sections have a half dozen simultaneously overlapping layers of video.

Video editing is one of the few computer applications where faster processing power really matters. The calculations necessary to edit HD video are mind boggling, but easily within the reach of modern high end PCs.

We pick it up Thursday morning. I love this stuff. It’s just in my blood.

The Consumer Unfriendly Business Model

Adobe-LogoAdobe has announced a new business model for Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere and their other products. No more sales. Adobe’s creative products will now be leased! Your financial obligation will continue each and every month as long as you use the product.

There’s more and more of this happening all the time. It’s not a good trend for consumers.

Here’s Adobe’s problem. These are mature programs. There are some, but not many, improvements with each update. Businesses balk at spending big bucks for little return.

Microsoft faces the same scenario with Office. They’re adding a cloud based licensing product while maintaining the purchase option.

This doesn’t happen solely in software. I remember speaking with the father of a child with diabetes at a JDRF function. His worry: the majority of research was going toward treatment, not cure!

A cure leads to one sale. Treatment produces a continuing revenue stream. That’s great for the producer. It sucks for those who are diabetic.

Producing mature products that work well and last forever is not always in the best interest of business. I’m not sure how to fix it or if it can even be fixed!

They’d Fire Me For What I’m Doing!

Your eyes can catch the detail in brighter whites and darker darks simultaneously than your digital camera can.

Some day that will surely change. Not yet.

A photographer working in news, whether a still or video photographer, is limited in what he can do to his photo. The finished product should be a documentary representation of what was in front of the lens. The use of Photoshop and its pretenders is limited.

National Geographic got caught moving the pyramids closer together a few years ago. Obviously a no-no.

Other guidelines aren’t quite as easy because cameras and humans see differently! Your eyes can catch the detail in brighter whites and darker darks simultaneously than your digital camera can.

Some day that will surely change. Not yet.

As a practical matter a properly exposed skyline will often have a blown out sky–whiter than its actual color and devoid of detail. If you take outdoor snapshots you’ve probably experienced the same thing where a sunny day is captured as bright gray.

Darks suffer a similar fate. Stands of trees or the detailed steelwork of the Verazzano-Narrows Bridge are lost in a blob of black.

A newspaper shooter is stuck. I am not! I take advantage of science and readily admit my finished photos often look better than real life and always look better than what came directly from the camera.

The Verazzano-Narrows shot (above) is a perfect example. I shot this bridge a bunch of times as our ship approached. No single image exposed everything properly. On top of that, I was on a moving ship so my perspective was constantly changing. I couldn’t use multiple shots differently exposed because each shot would ‘see’ differently.

I needed everything the camera’s sensors saw and got just that by using RAW files. Instead of compressing my image to a jpg (as most cameras do) my RAW file was saved just as it was sensed on the camera’s chip. The file was much larger, but it retained lots of detail–even if that detail couldn’t always be seen.

I brought the file into Photoshop and began selecting sections. I isolated certain shades of blue. I isolated areas where the luminance (brightness) was low. Now I could manipulate those sections without affecting the rest of the shot.

I brought up the bridge’s levels until the intricacy of the girders could be seen. Then I went back and deepened the sky color making it richer and giving the whole picture more contrast.

None of this would ever be done by a news photographer. It’s ethical poison. For my non-news artsy shots it doesn’t matter… at least it doesn’t matter to me!

It does make a difference in the final result. I think the finished shot is more pleasing and more like what I saw as we sailed under the bridge.

If I tried to pass this off in a newspaper or magazine they’d fire me.

WTNH Satellite Dish At Sunset – HDR Photo

Over-the-top HDR photo.

Heavily processed with QTPFSGUI and Photoshop. Some folks will find this a bit over-the-top and I can’t necessarily disagree.