Growing up, a Winnebago was part of the family. Some part of the American Dream for my parents was buying an RV, and with that came road trips. Camping (in terms of creature comforts) often stayed within the great State of Texas, but that still means 6 hours of driving and still close to home. Lucky for my own sanity, I usually fell asleep on those long hours on the road (it's a luck that still sticks to me, unless I'm driving...) but often left the question, "How did we get here though?"

The same question comes to mind when the discussion comes to motion in a stills environment. It's easy enough to say, "yes lets add video to the creative package," without understanding how it suddenly became part of the expected repertoire.  

Being a stills photographer who had to capture motion started not in commercial, but journalism. Years before any DSLR was capturing HD video, newspaper were fighting not the content battle, but the medium battle. The move online from the physical print meant that content not only happened on a much faster timetable, but needed to be more engaging. Mirroring the success of cable and local broadcast who had begun putting short packages online, traditional print newspaper were driving both writers and photographers to shoot some type of multimedia. At my time in print-news, there were two forms of content being produced...

 The first was audio packages, set to a slideshow of images. A desktop-based program, Soundslides, made this easier to combine and exported a very web-friendly applet. Combining the allure of audio packages that aspired for NPR-style reportage, and the high quality of images seemed like a magic bullet... but only so long lasting.

Yours truly covering stills and motion on the same assignment for the PR/Media department.

Yours truly covering stills and motion on the same assignment for the PR/Media department.

The second is more of a founder to where we are today. The (then) advent of higher quality small 3-chip (CCD) MiniDV camcorders meant that stills journalists could now capture some amount of video content, but even then the split of tasks was too difficult. Smaller HD-capable cameras (FlipHD, Sanyo Xacti...) proved that pocketable cameras were "good enough for web." Short clips, somewhat acceptable audio... but most of all, a low cost of entry. My hometown paper, the Houston Chronicle had one shooter assigned to capturing video with a Sony PD-150 miniDV cam (a milestone device of its own time for Standard Def) and began equipping staff stills shooters and writers with Xacti cams... 

The quality really left much to be desired. Even though web viewing standard was around 320 pixels (the lower of resolutions you'll see on YouTube), the quality of video did reinforce that video should be done by broadcast, and stills by newspapers. Though the stills + audio packages proved to be a successful pairing, motion and stills really didn't get a proper chance to combine until later down the road with a few technological leaps...

The greatest challenge (and one that still exists) is working as a one-man-band, and trying to create solid content with both mediums... trying to operate with a clear understanding on what parts of the story are conducive to stills, or motion is still a road bump being tackled.

Even though those leaps (video capable DSLR cameras)  first made big splashes with the commercial crowd first, it does seem that things have come full circle. Though the drive for video for print-based papers has been relegated to specific-duty shooters, capturing a few clips of video or audio is still very common place, and a growing need (or so I'm told by colleagues on the other side). 


This post was written in cooperation of the Multiplatform Journalism Class at RIT.