For the last six or seven years, most pro level digital cameras have also doubled as video cameras. Professional videographers have taken to using cameras like the Canon 5D, to shoot high end video productions. Many commercials you see on TV and even some TV dramas are now being shot with DSLRs. The cameras are outfitted with serious video quality lenses and sophisticated audio and recording devices that enable the videographers to produce 1080p broadcast quality results. Still-photography is not video. There are a different set of sensibilities in shooting video and stills. After all, video is designed to record subjects that move. But cameras can also move and that is where video and architecture can meet. Recently we have been working with our close video associate, Eric Sahlin, to see how we could integrate stills and video as a service for our clients. We asked the question, what would happen if you could put the camera on wheels and move it through a building? Doing this is a bit more complicated than it appears since the tripod and camera need to be on a track and carefully moved on that track, but if done right, the results can be quite compelling. The visual effect is as if one is actually walking or driving through a space. The advantage of short “truck shots” as they are called in the movie industry, is that they can be dropped into web pages as MP4 or GIF files in much the same way as photographs are. Recently, we had the good fortune to shoot an Olson Kundig remodel of a classic Mid-Century Modern house for Alward Construction. We asked Eric to set up some truck shots to use as samples of video truck shots of architecture. Below are two very short videos that illustrate this capability.
The advantage of these videos is that they are compact files that can be easily downloaded on a website and viewed along with other media, like still-photography and illustrations. We have only started playing with this concept but believe it could be a strong addition to a design firm’s visual media. Let us know what you think. Video could be in your firm’s future.
Adobe Photoshop is 25 years old and the granddaddy of image editing programs. We use it almost everyday and is a key part of our business. Photoshop is vast, complex, not intuitive and expensive. It is the tool for imaging professionals. If you are not an imaging professional (photographer, graphic designer, or illustrator) Photoshop could be a lot more program than you really want to deal with. There are a bunch of editing programs available that can do much of what P.S. does that are free or almost so and offer a legitimate alternative to Adobe’s mothership. Here is a quick review of four of them.
GIMP is a free and open-source raster graphics editor that has much of the look and operational characteristics of its Adobe brother. It will do most of things Photoshop will. It has most of the same tool icons and a very similar functionality. It is for PC and Linux operating systems only. Sorry Mac.
PaintShop Pro by Corel has been around for almost as long a Photoshop. It costs about $70 and will probably pay for itself the first week you use it. The command structure is a bit different than P.S., but it is a fully functional image editing program with the capabilities of doing layers and masks and sophisticated cutouts. This program is a good alternative to P.S. but it will take some time to learn.
Pixlr is a cloud-based editing program that has two modules, Editor and Express. Editor is robust, with many Photoshop functions like layers, a comprehensive tools palette, and the ability to transform and warp. Express is easy and fun to use, but not exactly a professional tool. This module is a bit like Instagram, something you can use to edit your iPhone images to send to friends, but not really a full featured application. It is an online application and you can be up and running with it pretty quickly.
Adobe Photoshop Elements is basically “Photoshop for Dummies.” It is amazingly full featured and has a command structure that is very close to its big brother, Photoshop. If you are familiar with Photoshop, Elements is simple to learn. Elements doesn’t have the strong graphics or sophisticated controls needed in print production, but for simple editing tasks like changing contrast or color balance or cutting out objects, it works fine. Elements is about $100 from the usual places.
All of these programs work well and can do a majority of what Photoshop does simply and cheaply, but they all have a learning curve that could be a few afternoons of dedicated online tutorials or a few weekends of classes. It is not worth buying any of these programs unless you are willing to put in the time to learn how to use them. These are image editing programs and image cataloging programs. I will write about those programs in an upcoming newsletter.