Those who follow me across the various social media platform know that I am a photo-enthusiast. Back in my student years though I chaired the video association. I used to produce short films with a bunch of friends to capture the student life through its events, sport performances, parties, seminars, binging... Lot of fun and also a realization: when editing videos you can easily manipulate the truth. You can make people believe. Two characters can appear to be in the same room whilst they were not for instance... This was an eye-opener, because if I were able to achieve that effect with our very restricted means, what could the bigger media corporations do?!? I since went back to my first love, still images and photography. I am not saying that I went back to photography because they are more trust-worthy, in fact they can lie as well as films (read this interview of multi-talented artist David Hockney from the Guardian)... It's just that I personaly prefer a single lie to 24 lies a second!
With the rise of digital a new array of possibilities have become accessible to the masses. And with them people are pushing the boundaries of what is possible, even more easily. David Hockney for instance enjoyed doing photo-collages back in the analog era. He was thus showing the bigger picture through smaller ones. He used to achive that manually with loads of print outs of a bespoke subject, glue, and patience. The results in his portfolio are exceptional, to my mind. And they are great because you can see the process through the result. A bit like Impressionism which is showing you the landscape through brush strokes.
Nowadays, softwares enable you to automatically stitch batches of pictures by recognising common denominators in the landscape. I personnaly feel that the result look a bit clinical, and consequently fake. So I prefer to adopt a more manual, though digital way, and accept the imperfections. It is maybe a way to demystify the lie some could say... Here is a link to a panography tutorial if you are interested to experience it by yourself (beware, this is both time-consuming and addictive!), and some of my own collages:
But I am not saying that the softwares that enable you to turn still images into more than a 10x15 piece of paper are bad. Let's take a look at Microsoft Photosynth for instance. This is a brilliant piece of software by the Redmond giant which does exactly what I mentioned above: it looks at 2D images, identify common visual denominators, and stich them to create a 3D image that you can explore. The best thing? These pictures do not have to have been taken by a single individual, on the contrary the diversity of the point of views enable a greater experience. I find this really bluffing. For instance, here you can explore Venice, the Piazza San Marco, the Doge palace... All that by photosynthing something like 500 snapshots by tourists. You are not into pizzas, and preferbig historical event? Well, Microsoft and CNN partnered to capture the Obama Inauguration speech through PhotoSynth. Zoom in from the back row to the speech balcony thanks to the thousands of people who were in Washington that day and snapped... Finally here is another example for the couch potatoes on how Photosynth can help the CSI experts to solve a crime using the camera phones!Moving though still.
There is another techniques based on still image that has been around for a while and which I keep on being baffled about: Stop Motion. I already wrote about it in a previous blog post as this original technique is becoming popular again in short movies, advertising, etc. And when I say 'original', I really mean it: it is the origins of cinema. You can indeed manualy create a movement by collating still images at the right pace. Your eyes and brain do the rest, i.e. extrapolate the missing pieces to provide a smooth movement.
Here is another great example of genuine creativity through stop motion:
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