Hybrid Photography – A New Form of Flex Media

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Copyright – Giulio Sciorio

Last week I attended the WPPI 2014 Conference + Expo at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The top creative photographers from all over the world gathered to learn, share and discuss the latest tips, techniques, trends and technologies in their industry. This year they had a full track of sessions dedicated to hybrid photography, defined as the skillful blend of still photos, video and sound. I was impressed with the creativity of the hybrid photographers using this new medium for commercial shoots, family portrait sessions and living business cards.

Driving the hybrid trend is new mirrorless digital camera technology which enables quality still photos and videos to be captured at the same time with independent focus capabilities. Panasonic is leading the way with a line of DSLM Panasonic-GH4-handscameras that make it easy for the photographer to make the jump into video. The new Lumix G4 and its predecessor the G3 are quickly becoming the standard. The G4 shoots video at 4K which gives photographers the ability to print just about any size from a single frame.

Giulio Sciorio, a creative innovator in this emerging space, says hybrid should be shot like a photograph rather than a video. A videographer is trained to tell a full story, while a photographer is equipped to capture the moment, he continues. Hybrid photography is simply small clips or animated portraits (2-8 seconds) that convey emotion, bringing a deeper context to the subject matter that makes a stronger connection with the audience. Giulio says that he uses hybrid on every commercial shoot even if it is not requested. His clients are always blown away with the results and, since capturing video is happening as part of his normal workflow, it doesn’t add any extra time or resource requirements during the shoot. It only requires a few minutes of post processing to create an entire set of licensable creative products. More products equal more revenue opportunities for his photography business. Giulio is an award-winning advertising executive that left the corporate world to quench his creative thirst as a photographer and follow the transformation of imagery from print to digital screen. “It’s all about the screen and we, as photographers, are responsible to fill it with great image content.” Hybrid is the natural next step in this journey.”

Suzette Allen, owner of A Picture of Hope, showed her line of living Christmas cards that she delivers as part of her holiday portrait sittings. They contain a mix of beautiful still images and well placed video clips that provide a fun addition to the traditional printed holiday card. Her customers share the living Christmas cards on their social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram. She is adding even more hybrid products to her offerings including e-business cards, product promotion and senior videos.

Hybrid photography is a great example of Flex Media and shows that it has both commercial and consumer applications. The take away from this year’s WPPI show is that photographers continue to lead the way in creativity because they are on the front lines everyday working with their customers and providing what they demand.

The Space Between

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Copyright – Jamie Beck & Kevin Burg

Understanding where the world is going in digital imagery and visual communication can sometimes be a challenge.  You feel the direction and can see the vision but still struggle on how to describe it to others.  I have been finding myself using the term “Space Between” a still image and a video to describe the area that we are trying to liberate on behalf of advertisers and marketers.  This space represents a growing movement in digital content creation that is driven by simple yet engaging motion.

The still photo can be a small and easily usable image and that is what makes it a perfect piece of content for digital advertising creative.  Photos capture a moment in time and lets the audience complete the story. But the one image is often one dimensional, interpretative and approximate – not providing the clarity, energy and emotion of actual movement.

Video, on the other hand, tells a more complete story and its format is designed to allow the creator room to express an entire thought or idea worth sharing.  Video can be engaging and robust enough to get just about any message across, and sound provides an additional sensation to express emotion and feeling.  However, using video as content in digital advertising is often complicated.  Requiring the user to click to play creates an instant barrier that demotes the video to a still photo with an arrow on top.  And, large file sizes, limited media placement opportunities and hosting issues can add to the video’s inherent complexities.

The average online attention span in 2013 was eight seconds. Twitter has seen the research. This is why they decided on a maximum of six seconds for uploads to their popular Vine video app and standardized the original ‘Tweet’ on 140 characters or less to get a point across.   Less is more in today’s busy world.  If grabbing our attention in a digital environment in less than eight seconds is important, we need a new way to combine the simplicity of the still photo with the engaging nature of a video.  Can we convey emotion through motion simply and quickly?  Absolutely we can.  But what do we call it?

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Copyright – Mr. GIF

Since the Dave Matthews Band already used “The Space Between” to title their 2001 hit song, it is our job (collectively) to come up with a name to describe this emerging space.  Some within the industry have begun using their own language to describe the content.  Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg, the duo credited with the artistic revival of the GIF format coined the name “Cinemagraph” to describe their moving photographs.  Other creative professionals use terms such as moving portraits, hybrid photography or looping video.  All are valid monikers given to a new art form that is simple, compact, engaging and provides just enough emotion to compel the viewer to take action.  But the medium deserves an artistic distinction that sets it apart, not as a technology but as a form of expression born from the evolution of technology.

We know what this “Space Between” is but need your help giving it a unique and defining name.  We have built a company around this new disruptive technology and are looking to provide smart solutions to creative professionals, digital marketers and ad agencies looking to convey emotion through motion quickly and easily in the form of digital content and creative for display banners, websites, email campaigns, landing pages and social media channels.

Send us a tweet at @Cinegif for your suggestions on naming the space between a still photo and a video, or post on our Facebook page.