I recently ran across this video made by the wonderfully talented photojournalist Ami Vitale. It was commissioned by Nikon to showcase the HD video capabilities of the D300s, a camera very similar to the Canon 7D:
Like this new class of cameras, the short video is itself a hybrid of photography and video – each scene is like a still photograph come to life with motion. With her background and extensive experience in photography, it is no surprise that Ami approached this video as a series of still, yet moving photographs. What I mean is that the language of videography – the pans, zooms, transitions, etc. – is not explored, but rather the camera is typically kept in place while the activity and motion occurs in front of it.
This seems to be an excellent example for photographers who are beginning to explore the video capabilities of their new cameras. Many have predicted that video is going to be the future of visual journalism and storytelling, and the fact that photographers now have HD video in their hands encourages this possibility. But video and film have a language all their own, much different than photography. If one is truly dedicated to video storytelling, they will need to invest much time and effort into learning this language. So while they are striving to see, film, and edit with new eyes and now ears, it will be helpful to begin with a language they are already familiar with – the language of composition, color, point of view, framing, contrast, etc., which they already know from photography.
With this approach, one can begin to capture the element of time (not to mention sound) that a still photograph can only allude to, just as Ami captured the dancing light on the women in the street, the sari fluttering in the wind, the motion of water and change of reflections, the movement of shadows across sand dunes, and the time-lapse effects of various modes of transportation.
According to a recent interview, Ami is now studying videography in a master’s program, so there is no doubt she will soon be telling more amazing and beautiful stories through video.