Jamie Kripke: Hey Rob – have you seen this:
Jamie: 98% CGI by a 30 year old dude in Spain with a single PC. It’s beautiful. We’ve all seen a lot of CGI over the years, but it’s usually just a bit off, or just too slick and most of it is really expensive, and requires a team of people to make it look right. But this is different — this is one guy and a PC. Low budget. And he’s not a photographer by training either. Photographers, especially ad shooters, are freaking out about this.
Rob: I’m not sure I get what all the fuss is about. I saw it a couple days ago and was blown away by how it looked, but overall it seemed underwhelming to me. Maybe I’m missing something?
Jamie: Most of this was made by one guy, without a camera, and without leaving his desk, for little or no money. Photographers and art directors aside (b/c they are not the ones cutting the checks), what client wouldn’t want to have complete control over a shoot for a fraction of the budget of going on location?
Rob: It costs dollars to make a photograph anymore and now we’re seeing CGI going from millions to thousands of dollars. The value is no longer in the creation of the product. It all lies in the creativity. The idea. Only an artist can give it meaning.
Jamie: I think most would agree — without the idea, you have nothing. This is also about the shifting role of the photographer. Here’s a guy who’s not a photographer (at least not in the traditional sense) that is creating beautiful images without a camera. He’s bringing both the vision and the execution at a very high level.
I think it’s pretty rare for one person to have both skills in spades, but if things continue in this direction, what does it mean for photographers? Will their role turn into one of simply relaying experiences or imagining images that are then recreated in CGI by a dude at a desk? Will location shoots become a thing of the past, with photographers spending their days racking their brains in windowless rooms? Who knows?
Obviously there is a random, candid human element that will always defy CGI, and portrait shooters should be ok, but when you think about landscapes, products, architecture, it starts to get iffy. Especially when you bring tight ad budgets and tight clients into the picture.
So in a CGI world, who’s going to bring the vision?
Rob: A photographer has two roles: make something beautiful and make something interesting/meaningful. Now this guy Alex made something beautiful but then he filled it with clichés: doves, cherry blossoms, dolly shots, crane shots and a bunch of focus pulls.
So, it seems that now photographers don’t need to work on making something beautiful. It can be done in post. The photographer is now an artist and a problem solver. They need to come up with the unexpected and original.
Hasn’t it always been this way with photography. The choices are endless, practically unlimited. Photography is about editing. Where you stand, what time of day and when you push the button. The CGI artist has all those endless choices too.
The big product guys already have photographers on staff to take pictures for them because it’s the idea that counts. We’ve been there for awhile with product photography.
Jamie: Yes, and photographers now have more tools to choose from than ever before. For those of us that enjoy hauling cases of camera gear to distant locations, the idea of creating images without getting on a plane or hearing the click of a shutter can seem scary, but it’s also incredibly exciting. I’d like to believe that we’re heading into a golden age of photography where literally anything will be possible.
Rob: For optimists, anything is possible.
Here’s the making of vid for the doubters: http://www.vimeo.com/8200251
and here is a bit more info on the creator Alex Roman: http://motionographer.com/2009/08/16/alex-roman-thethirdtheseventh/