I’m curious about the relationship between still and moving images, and so two bits of news caught my eye over the last couple of days. First, this little doco on photographer Alexx Henry’s movie poster shoot (“one sheets”) with the Red One camera (which I found via A Photo Editor). The Red camera produces images of high enough definition that any frame can be used as a still. The process is interesting to see (lighting a video shoot like a still shoot, the possibilities the camera offers, etc.), but what’s fascinating is the effect, the surprise of having still images come to life, and having them do so unexpectedly.
Then, this piece in the New York Times’ new Lens blog (appropriately subtitled “Photography, Video and Visual Journalism”) about Times photographer Chang W. Lee shooting the Second Chance series of mini docos with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II, a still camera that also captures high definition video. There are inherent advantages in shooting video with a still camera equipped to do so — you get to use a wide range of lenses, the larger chip size allows for shallower depth-of-field, and so on — but here Lee uses the convergent technology to tell the story, producing a piece that seamlessly switches from still images to video.
There’s nothing that new about this in a broad sense. The final shot of 400 Blows, for example, lingers on a still. And conversely there’s that quietly startling moment in La Jetée where the some of the stills escape their stasis. But these examples are movies; we wouldn’t approach them as still images or photography in the traditional sense. Maybe what makes this current trend different is that the resolution of the images actually does confuse the boundaries between the photographic and the cinematic. I’m sure that their existence as web texts adds to this as well. We see a still image in the cinema, and of course it’s part of a movie. The same thing on the computer screen, and it could be, it might turn, into anything.