Is This the Wedding Video Every Event Photographer Should Fear

Still image from Toncai RED wedding highlight. Click for larger image.

Back in the early 2000’s celebrity event filmmaker turned post-production house entrepreneur Paul Korver started shooting weddings on 35mm film. Yes, that’s right folks. He shot high profile weddings on the same super expensive film format that his movie star clients were used to being shot on for their films. Was it overkill for a wedding? Perhaps. But enough people were willing to pay for it that he did a number of them. Back when weddings were my main gig, I thought of an idea that would be the equivalent in the digital domain. A wedding shot with the RED cinema camera, famous at the time for offering the quality of $100,000 digital cinema cameras at less than a fifth the price. Alas, I eventually changed the focus of my business to commercial work before getting the chance to shoot a wedding with a RED camera. Well, I no longer have to wonder what it would look like. Tonaci Visuals has gone out and shot what they are touting as possibly the first wedding shot with the RED cinema camera.

Is it overkill? Maybe. But what’s more interesting is what this means to both the event filmmaking and photography professionals. The 5K still images you can pull from this camera are on par with a still a photographer might take with a traditional DSLR. In fact, the stills from this camera can even be used for store front displays. What happens when an event filmmaker can shoot 24 5k images a second? You may no longer also need a dedicated photographer.

Now, before all my photog friends get all worked up, I know that it will be a long, long time before we see weddings and events with just a filmmaker at an event. And truth be told, long before that happens, the titles “photographer” and “filmmaker” will have less importance in the event world directly because of technology. We already see a number or high profile event (and commercial) photogs taking on the title “visual artist.” Also, I absolutely know and acknowledge that there are some photos composed in such a way to make a dedicated photog still very important (e.g. vertically aligned photos). But make no mistake, we are heading for an age where you will see a lot of events shot with one camera taking 24 (or more) high resolution images per second that are edited into amazing wedding films from where all the stills needed to create individual photos and albums will come. Cameras that can also take high resolution stills like a traditional SLR (if the RED Scarlet ever materializes, that will be one). Vince Laforet recently blogged about this topic as well when he asked the question “what camera did I use to make this still image.” This was the image:

Frame grab from a RED Epic shot at 96 frames per second. Click for full size. Image copyright Vincent Laforet.

So…what do you make of this crazy whirlwind of technology? How else do you see the event world changing because of it? Are you scared or inspired? Here is the highlight video from the Tonaci Visuals RED wedding.

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13 Responses to “Is This the Wedding Video Every Event Photographer Should Fear”

  1. Ron,

    Technically, a videographer/filmmaker can capture “The Moment” as motion and as a still using any number of products. I really don’t see this as unhealthy competition. This is really no different than an amateur with a canon 2ti… competition. Frankly, a guy with a RED is moving the market in a direction that allows me to make money. The guy with the 2Ti… not so much.

    The difference is the mindset. David duChemin refers to this as the vision that gives the photographer and their photography value. The idea behind the image. There is a distinct difference between the way a still and motion artist thinks. Stu Maschwitz often talks about how film is less about capturing “reality” and more about capturing the “artists vision”. How you do that with a still and with motion is different.

    Interestingly, the guys (and gals) at StillMotion have been aggressively attacking this segment with a great deal of success. (Is anyone right now more successful than StillMotion?) They get the fusion bit like no other group. That is not to say still and motion skills don’t overlap. It is just that the approaches are different.

    Fear is not what I need to approach this competition. Understanding my value position and being able to communicate it IS the skill that I need to more fully develop.

    David

    • Very well said David. I especially agree with the part that still and motion artists look at the event differently.

      I would disagree with your point that the T2i guy is not moving the market in a direction where you can make money. We’re one of the highest paid wedding filmmakers (when we shoot weddings) and I use a T2i for them. The quality is on par with the 7D. As you said, it’s all in the mindset. :)

      • Ron, I am pretty sure that Ansel Adams would kick my butt with a Canon G9 (or a kodak brownie for that matter). No mistake for talent. My point is that not the equipment but GENERALLY the level of vision that someone with a person who carries a T2i and someone with a RED.

        David

  2. Very well said and agreed David.

    As a filmmaker I have a different goal and completely different product to give to my client than my photographer counterpart. Brides that are passionate to the artistry of Photography and Filmmaking will require the independent talent of both to capture the details of their day.

    The only two for one deal here will be for the bride who wants to save money and sacrifice quality.

    Marty

  3. Photographers don’t have to fear anything because great photography is not about the camera you use but about artistic lighting & being mobile. The photographers that work along side me at weddings create masterpieces with off camera flash which film can’t compare to. The photographer can be at more than one place the filmmaker needs to be on a tripod and slow moving. You don’t want 300 photos per second you want a single moment artistically composed & captured. As a photographer/filmmaker I appreciate the two very different approaches required for each field.

  4. Nathan Lee Bush July 26, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    Went a little overboard with the slow motion there

  5. Remote triggered flash & monkeys with cameras aside, I think the point people are missing here is that capturing so many frames per/second, gives you the ability to pick that one amazing exposure over the limited frames (moments) a still photographer can capture with the hit of a shutter button (as educated as their guess may be.) This is like the wedding photographer who machine guns every scene using the spray & pray method but better! We’ve been pulling frames from our videos for our blog for years. DSLR video has demystified photography for wedding film-makers who are now more aware of ambient light and posing techniques. Film-makers are leading the charge and I think its only natural that the 2 disciplines will eventually merge.

    I would have to concur with Ron however, that unless you’re charging enough to justify the investment, using a Red One to shoot weddings is serious overkill. The other problem I see, is the way in which technology gets superseded so quickly these days, with a camera’s value dropping down so quickly (Panasonic AF100 is a great example.) To me, it doesn’t make good business sense to invest $20K+ on a camera system just so you can say you shoot weddings on a Red; just like those that jumped on the 3D weddings bandwagon last year, there is definitely an element of “we were the first” marketing in there ;)

    • Thanks for the comment Evro. You brought the topic back to my main point. It wasn’t about the artistry and the importance of that. It was the practicality of now being able to pull viable stills from a camera that would rival the quality of a traditionally shot still. Because of the “line skipping” aspect of DSLR video, stills from those are great for the web and maybe even smaller prints. But if you wanted 24×36 canvas or similar, it would fall short.

      The one point about the RED is that you don’t have to buy it. I would guess that many people who shoot on RED don’t actually own it, but rent it. But with rental rates easily surpassing $1,000 per camera (by the time you factor in lenses, drives, etc.) the point remains the same. You have best be getting paid 35mm money if you’re going to do it consistently.

  6. Yeah… Stillmotion stuff destroys this RED wedding video. It’s all about story, Gucci camera’s might as well be point and shoot wind-ups without out shot composition and story to back them up… perfect example above, unimpressed.

    • Thanks for the comment Duane. I’m the biggest proponent there is of story over gear. But as I commented in my reply to Evro, the point wasn’t about the level of subjective artistry. My post is about the ability to pull high quality still from such a wedding video. Quality high enough to print large canvases.

  7. Kristian Anderson July 27, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    I think the point is being lost on most. A RED shooting a wedding, or any other event, is a two birds, one stone scenario. Anyone who finds themselves in possession of a RED Epic (for example) has some idea of what they’re doing. They’re not just “point and shoot” cowboys. In my hands is an Epic, I shoot at 120fps. I capture everything. I then take the footage and edit a video, export beautiful stills and we’re done. Lighting and framing are a given, you know this if you own an Epic.

    I definitely think there’s going to be a new market opening up for this kind of thing. Even more so when Scarlet arrives and you have a fixed lens with outstanding auto-focus abilities in an even smaller package.

    This is a tipping point. Evolution. Time to adapt.

  8. It’s personal taste, but regardless of the incredible quality of the picture, I don’t love the vision for the RED wedding film itself. At the end of the day, no matter how high the quality of production, it’s all about the storyteller’s creative vision… and you can’t buy that. Additionally, most people are going to view a wedding film online and a 5d will do just fine – though I get the whole idea of questioning the need for photography when you have 5k stills. I guess I just feel like there’s a different approach when you’re taking a photo then when you’re shooting video and ultimately you’re going to get the most powerful stills when you’re not just gliding around the scene shooting video and instead are focusing on finding that decisive moment.

    Also – are we sure this is the first RED wedding video? I’m doubtful.

  9. I have used the RED One for commercial work but still use an HVX200 for events. In my opinion, the RED One is overkill for weddings. A future alternative like Scarlett may be OK, but it is my understanding that RED is shifting their focus from affordable, high-end to moderately priced, high-end, so in my market, the prices I can get don’t justify the investment. In some markets, I think it is possible.
    The ability of the operator is ultimately what determines the quality of the event video – same with the still photographer. That being said, I would never want to try to replace the photographer – although I have shot weddings where there wasn’t a professional photographer. But video brings something completely different to the table and I’d like to keep my focus on my area of expertise, not pulling stills from 4K or 5K files.
    I am getting asked more and more if I am able to do this by people who are trying to avoid the cost of both a photographer and a videographer.

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