Stills and Motion at Sugino Studio

by Heather on July 19, 2010

I’m not sure any of us really know what the future holds in terms of still photography in the face of so many demands for interactivity. At the same time, there are more opportunities for photographers to develop their motion chops. Today, I thought we’d take a look at Sugino Studio where they have all the gear, a bunch of talent and are doing their best to figure out the sweet spot within the stills and motion convergence. A screen grab from their new website:

Let’s start by considering a job that Shin Sugino recently shot for Ford.  This was shot with 40 still cameras set up for three different scenes- a total of 120 images joined together. As Shin told me:

At the same time there were 12 motion cameras (Canon) so we could shoot motion and stills at same time with exactly the same lenses and set up. The end product has 12 interactive hot points and allows viewers to participate (by clicking the hot point). The motion footage starts to give more detailed information.

This project excited me very much because this kind of image presentation is only possible because of web interactivity and Canon’s new technology of motion and still capability. This is what convergence and new technology means. No one has done this yet. (The Matrix has done time slice or the Big Freeze effect a long time ago but with no interactivity).

See the whole experience here. The behind-the-scenes video:

Since Shin does seem to be at the forefront when it comes to still/motion convergence and he is clearly up on the latest technology (I swear he recently told me about a scratch and sniff camera that’s demo-ing in Japan), I asked him about the future:

In your opinion, what is the benefit of a still shooter doing the motion part of a campaign?

A still shooter has basic training on image making and they have a more nimble approach to production. However they need to do lot of home work catching up on technical detail. i.e. lighting for motion footage, post production knowledge, digital cinema workflow etc. My operation as digital cinema production house is efficient and profitable because we run our production like a still photo studio not like a film production house. Our price is 30% cheaper than a conventional production house while our profit ratio is 300% of conventional production house.

What is your vision for Sugino Studios as far as managing the stills/motion convergence?

I might have been wrong to believe the still/motion convergence would be an acceptable option for ad agencies. I did not account for the agency’s structure and attitude towards convergence- the turf and profit structure issues. I think that the still/motion convergence will come out of the interactive division of the agencies. Photographers have no choice but to ammalgamate their still/motion skills in order to secure interactive jobs- it’s the only way photographers can survive. It’s a long road to convert photographers into motion-savvy image makers. All I can do is to make a playground for photographers and let them grope around and find their own way. It might be almost impossible for an established photographer to make smooth transition. Young and upcoming artists might have an easier time adopting this new concept of “Imagemaker”. They might even not make distinction between still and motion- just image making.

We are doing more and more web images and their budget are getting better and better. I still do fair chunk of broadcast job but within a year almost all of our work will be web based. I think.

What technological innovation are you most excited about seeing in the next 12 months?

iPad and copycat products. Sony is preparing one, HP is too and this will change the media landscape. The Webzine will become a major player and will replace print media. A two or three seconds webzine ad with interactive option of digging into more detailed consumer info will become the norm (think of it as double page magazine spread with a fold out option- with no paper cost and an extremely cheap media fee).

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I love how Shin talks about his studio as a playground where his photographers can grope around- and in this case, that’s with two full Red One packages with a full complement of Zeiss lenses. Plus a Phantom! Jiminy Cricket, that’s a lot to converge.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Chuck St John July 20, 2010 at 9:44 am

Shin Sugino says…” It might be almost impossible for an established photographer to make smooth transition. Young and upcoming artists might have an easier time adopting this new concept of “Imagemaker”. They might even not make distinction between still and motion- just image making..”

What are you saying? That we’re technological dinosaurs? We’re not smart enough to learn this? Younger shooters are going to be better at learning?

Find a suitable physician to help you get your entire leg out of your mouth. You failed to stop at your foot. You may not have meant it, but you’ve insulted the vast majority of shooters out there.

Heather July 20, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Hey Chuck, I don’t think Shin is saying that younger photographers are better at learning at all, I think he’s pointing out the difference in the way young, post-Red One/Canon 5D photographers are able to conceptualize their craft. Just like when the photo schools starting teaching photoshop along with photography, we started seeing graduates that would plan their shots thinking as much about the post work as the lighting etc.

I think Shin has made an insightful comment about how a change in technology can influence our entire approach to our craft, our opportunities and our interests.

Andreas July 20, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Shin is always ahead of the pack. When I worked for him for a few months way back I saw this first hand. He has made a very valid point, one that others have as well. There will always be work for those that don’t do it all, but those that can and do it well, will be the leaders. Like Shin.

Shin Sugino July 30, 2010 at 10:06 pm

I went to my doctor and asked to remove a leg out of my mouth and he assured me there is no leg in my mouth. I did not think so anyway.
Chuck, chill and read carefully what I said. (I am not suggesting eye doctor here. As an excellent photographer I am quite sure you have keen eyes and ability to comprehend whole picture.) It says “it is almost impossible to make SMOOTH TRANSITION” Keyword here is “SMOOTH” I did not say impossible to make transition.

Yes you are right. Younger people are better at learning this new visual language. Absolutely. Us old dogs have to try really hard to learn new trick. It is not impossible but very hard. I have long long film shooting experience along with my still photo career. I find really hard to learn new language of convergence of still and motion.Younger people don’t get hung up by technology and they get right into image making.
Younger people are very digital in their thinking, not at all analogue like us old photographer. At the same time their approach and thinking toward “image making” is much more fluid and horizontal thinking rather than vertical and analogue thinking of us older generation. The language called “photography” is changing to “image making” border line is very very thin between still and motion images. Hence I refer as new language of “image making”.

If someone is insulted by my comment then that person is failing to see the tidal wave of change coming (I mean beyond technical change) and not assessing the situation well. Truth is painful. Accept what younger people have more than you do and think what you have but younger people don’t have.

I am not professing to be a technical wizard here. Matter of the fact is I still don’t know how to start up 5D, Red Camera or Phase One software. My assistants helps me on that. I just know what I can do with them visual and technical. Am I a Dino? I think I am but I like to be the one who survived, evolved and became hippo,
elephant or whatever.

Last two years our ad campaigns and promo’s theme was


Well two things for sure. You can die only once and when you are dead it doesn’t matter whether you were dinosaurs or not.

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