I’m a photographer originally.  I’ve been doing photography for clients from around the world for 30 years.  I’ve shot 7 covers for Newsweek Magazine, several for BusinessWeek, photographed the past three Prime Ministers of Singapore, and many CEOs including Bill Gates – twice.

I love photography.  But it is being overshadowed now by video.  In fact, video is kicking its butt all over the place.

We will have a few blogs in the future about the power of online video and back it up with all kinds of relevant statistics and quotes and such so that you all are convinced that every school in the world needs a series of videos (because they actually do).  But we’ll save that for another day.

This post is about shooting both video and photography – at the same time.

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Like I said, I started off as a photographer.  Photography was all about the “decisive moment” for me.  The exact moment when the child’s expression is perfect, the school campus is perfectly out of focus but still recognisable in the background, and the birds are chirping.  A moment of perfection.

But video isn’t like that.  Video is about a series of moments that are strung together to tell a bigger and longer and deeper story.  With interviews.  And music.  Although closely related, video and photography are not the same thing.  And they are hard to do at the same time.

When we first started our production company, we called it MotionPicturesAsia for a reason.  We shoot motion (video) and we shoot pictures (photography) and we do it in Asia.  Pretty straightforward, actually.  And we pride ourselves on being one of the only production companies that we know of that does both photography and video equally well.  But the actual execution of shooting both mediums at the same time was pretty challenging.  When we were shooting video, we’d miss those “decisive moments” that photography needs.  And when we were shooting photos, we’d miss some of the action sequences that video needs.  It would’ve been great to be able to shoot both at the same time.

And now we are doing just that – shooting both at the same time.

Enter 4k video.  4k is four times the resolution of HD video, what has been the industry standard up until now.  That means that each frame is four times the size.  Interestingly enough, each 4k video frame is about the same size file that we deliver our photos in.  In the past year, we traded in our trusty Canon HD video cameras and invested in MUCH better quality Sony 4k video cameras.  And I mean MUCH better quality.  So, now we just shoot video and then extract still photo frames from the video.  And they are beautiful quality with all the crispness and depth that we had gotten from our Canon still photo cameras.  The difference is that we don’t need to choose between shooting still photos and video, we can do both at the same time.

We recently shot this video for GESS in Singapore and were able to deliver the still photos in this article right from the video file:

There are a few small downsides to this approach that are important to understand.  These include:

  1. The resolution of the video/photo files is nowhere near as high as the resolution of the original photo files.  So, you can’t enlarge these photos up to the size of a wall.  But, honestly, when was the last time that you actually did that?  The video/photo files are perfect for all web uses as well as most print uses and look absolutely fantastic.  But they do have their size limitations.
  2. We can’t stop rapid action blur with the video/photo process.  Its too complicated to explain here, but the shutter speed of video is limited and can’t stop fast action like sports in the same way that photography can.  So we won’t be able shoot your next school sports day and extract photos from the video.  We’ll need to shoot on seperate cameras.  But we can still do that.
  3. You can’t shoot vertical photos.  Well, you can, and we’ve actually done so for both VISA and Uber in the past year, but its awkward.  And looks weird.  All of the photos that you’ll get from our video files will be horizontal.  There should be enough crop room to crop vertical photos from these that will still work for your website, though.  But by far the overwhelming majority use of photos today is on the web and most of those photos are horizontal.

All in all, the pros far outweigh the cons.  The time saved, the money saved, the “decisive moments” saved – you get the idea.  And one of the biggest advantages is this – your photos look exactly like your videos because they come from the same file.  Brand recognition across media platforms is a powerful thing for marketing.

We are thrilled with our new video-photo workflow and so are our clients.  It has already proven to give them much more content for their budget while keeping quality very high and capturing many of the fleeting shots that used to pass us by.