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April 4th, 2016

Video Pick: Magnus Wennman Pushes Boundaries with “Fatima’s Drawings”

FATIMA’S DRAWINGS from Magnus Wennman on Vimeo.

Among three finalists for the World Press Photo short form multimedia prize is Magnus Wennman’s outstanding 5-1/2 minute video called “Fatima’s Drawings.” His “Where the Children Sleep” project was widely published last year, and “Fatima’s Drawings” is a continuation of his work documenting the plight of refugee children from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The video features a five-year-old Syrian refugee in Sweden, recounting (in a voiceover) the trauma and loss she experienced in Syria and while fleeing to Europe. It’s an example of spare, exquisite filmmaking, with care and attention to all the creative and technical details, from the storyboarding and shooting, to the sound recording and mixing, to the atmospheric hue of the lighting. It also includes animation: Wennman shows Fatima by the light of a window, making stick-figure drawings of scenes from her past. One shows her playing with the best friend she left behind in Idlib, Syria; another shows airplanes bombing her old neighborhood. The drawings suddenly come to life as the camera lingers overhead. Some purists might argue the technique strains the limits of journalism, but Wennman’s video adds up to more than the sum of its individual parts, and documentary storytelling doesn’t get much better than this.

Related:
Video Pick: “Denali,” Film about Photographer Ben Moon and His Dog, Goes Viral
Video Pick: Chris Jordan’s “Midway,” on Beauty in Environmental Activism

February 29th, 2016

Andrew Ellis, Casper Dalhoff, Stephen Dupont and National Geographic Win Top Awards in Late Round POYi Judging

From "A Commitment to Life" by Casper Dalhoff, winner of the World Understanding Award at the 2016 POYi competition. ©Casper Dalhoff

From “A Commitment to Life” by Casper Dalhoff, winner of the Community Awareness Award at the 2016 POYi competition. ©Casper Dalhoff

Andrew Ellis of MediaStorm has won Multimedia Photographer of the Year honors at the 73rd anual Pictures of the Year International (POYi) competition, while National Geographic has won Documentary Project of the Year and the Angus McDougall Overall Excellence in Editing Award.

Ellis submitted a portfolio that included stories about a farmer at risk of losing his farm because of drought in California, and a video game collector who has been selling his collection to care for his family. National Geographic won Documentary Project of the Year honors for its November 2015 single topic issue on climate change

The awards were announced late Friday after judging ended for the Visual Editing Division of the three-week competition.

Winners of top awards in other divisions included Casper Dalhoff, who won the Community Awareness Award for his project titled “A Commitment to Life,” about life in a home for the mentally and physically disabled in Denmark. Stephen Dupont won the Best Photography Book award for his book Generation AK: The Afghanistan Wars 1993-2012.

As previously announced in PDN, Reportage Division winners included Paolo Marchetti, who won Photographer of the Year honors, and Hossein Fatemi, who won the World Understanding Award. In the News Division, Carolyn Van Houten of the San Antonio Express-News won Newspaper Photographer of the Year, while Al Bello of Getty Images won Sports Photographer of the Year in the Sports Division.

Judging took place at the Missouri School of Journalism from February 8-26. News Division judges were Muhammed Muheisen, Marvin Joseph, Mary F. Calvert and Michael Hamtil. Judges for the Sports Division were Wally Skalij, Nate Gordon, and Seth Greenberg, and Reportage Division judges were Ken Geiger, Jane Evelyn Atwood, Janet Jarman, and Matt Campbell. Editing Division judges were Travis Fox, Deb Pastner, Leslie dela Vega, and Pat Davison.

The judges selected winners in 40 categories. A complete list of winners and runners up, as well as their entries, are posted at POYi.org.

Related:
Paolo Marchetti, Carolyn Van Houten and Al Bello Are Top POYi Winners So Far

February 25th, 2016

Pond5 Taps Artificial Intelligence to Improve Media Uploading and Discovery

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In the dystopian future every sci-fi fan knows by heart, artificial intelligence invariably enslaves or destroys humanity.

And maybe that enslavement is just around the corner (opinions vary), but in 2016, AI is used to put tags on your photos and videos.

The creative asset market Pond5 is the latest company to harness AI to make its image database more efficient, following similar moves by Flickr, ImageBrief, Eye-Fi and others. The company announced today that it will use AI to power two new features in its stock marketplace.

The first is dubbed NextSense, which uses image recognition powered by artificial neural networks to scan the contents of uploaded files and automatically apply up to 20 “hyper-specialized” tags on them to make finding them easier. Users are free to edit these tags, and add more of their own. The idea, says co-CEO Ryan Scott, is to streamline the process for creatives and make their media easier for buyers to find.

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The other AI-powered feature is Visual Discovery, which uses machine learning to anticipate what a user wants based on their search terms and browsing. Rather than just scooping up media with related tags, Visual Discovery goes deeper to pull images with similar aesthetics, angles as well as media that’s trending in its community. The company did extensive research on how buyers selected media and found that when using the AI-powered discovery features to winnow down their choices, they had much higher response rates and customer satisfaction, Scott tells us. “It may not get it right 100 percent of the time,” Scott adds, but it will also improve with more time and more data.

Beyond its budding Skynet, Pond5 is introducing a two-tiered subscription plan, which launches at a 50 percent discount for a limited time. Buyers can purchase assets as they go, or sign up for a Pro Membership ­plan for $49/month ($349/year) for up to five HD downloads per month and 10 percent off additional downloads. A Premium Membership ­plan for $89/month or $599/year ­comes with 10 4K downloads a month plus a 10 percent discount on additional downloads.

Pond5’s artist portfolio page have also been changed with the ability to upload header images, personalize a bio, and hand curate your media.

Pond5 boasts over 40,000 contributing artists from over 150 countries. It hosts over 4 million royalty-free video clips and millions of photos, sound effects, music and media.

January 6th, 2016

Documentary Photographers: Contest Deadlines Approaching Fast

Marzell Williamson plays the tuba, by Jerry Wolford, winner of Photojournalist of the Year honors at last year's Best of Photojournalism competition. ©News & Record/Jerry Wolford Photojournalism 2015 Ph

Marzell Williamson plays the tuba, Greensboro, NC. Jerry Wolford won Photojournalist of the Year honors for a portfolio including this image, at last year’s Best of Photojournalism competition. ©News & Record/Jerry Wolford

Winter is the height of the photojournalism contest season, and entry deadlines are fast approaching for a number of international competitions. Among them are:

The World Press Photo entry deadline is January 13, although entrants must register by January 7. (Multimedia entries are due by  January 20.) There is no entry fee, but participants must provide proof of their professional status.  This year’s contest is subject to a new code of ethics and strict new rules about photo manipulation, as well as other rule changes. See the contest website for details. Photo contest winners will be announced February 18. The winner of the World Press Photo of the Year 2015 will receive a cash prize of 10,000 EUR, and winners in all categories will be invited to travel to Amersterdam for an awards ceremony in April at the expense of World Press Photo organizers.

Entries for the 73rd POYi competition are due by January 15. The competition includes multiple categories in photojournalism, multimedia, and visual editing divisions. The entry fee is $50. Prizes are primarily bragging rights and exposure, but winners of several premier categories also receive modest cash awards–$1,000 for Photographer of the Year and $500 for Newspaper Photographer of the Year, for instance. Judging takes place from February 8-25 at the Missouri School of Journalism, which sponsors the contest. Details and rules are on the POYi website.

Photo entries for the Eyes of History competition are due January 15. The competition is sponsored by the White News Photographers Association. The entry fee is $67. The competition has other divisions with different entry due dates: video entries are due January 29, multimedia entries are due January 31, and student entries are due February 1. The entry fees for those divisions also vary. All divisions except the student division are open to WHNP members only. See the WHNP website for complete details.

Best of Photojournalism entries are due by January 29. The contest, which is sponsored by National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), is open to NPPA members and non-members alike. There is no entry fee, and there are no monetary prizes (just bragging rights and plaques). Like POYi, BOP includes still photo, multimedia and editing divisions, plus a video division. Contest details and rules are available on the NPPA website. No date has been set for announcing winners, but winners for past competitions have been announced in March or April.

The deadline for entering PDN’s Photo Annual competition is February 3. In addition to photojournalism/documentary and video/multimedia categories, the competition categories include: advertising, editorial, photo books, sports, self-promotion, stock photography, personal work and student work. The entry fee is $50 for single images, and $60 for each series of images. Cash awards total more than $20,000. Contest information and rules are available at the PDN Photo Annual website.

The Piclet.org International Prize for Contemporary African Photography  (POPCAP) is accepting entries until February 7. The prize is for work about Africa or the diaspora of an African country. Entrants must submit a single series or story consisting of 10 to 25 images. There is no entry fee. The prizes include an artists’ residency. Finalists will be announced February 29, and five winners will be announced March 7. Past winners include Zed Nelson, Léonard Pongo, Anoek Steketee, Patrick Willocq, and Cristina de Middel. Full details and rules are available at the POPCAP website.

Entries for the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, sponsored by Natural History Museum in London, are due by February 25. “Judges are looking for outstanding images that raise awareness of nature’s beauty and fragility, while also championing the highest ethical standards in wildlife photography,” according to the contest website. Entrants may submit up to 25 images. The entry fee is £30.00 ($44). Top prize is £10,000 ($14,675) for Best Single Image, but the competition awards monetary prizes in a number of categories. Winners will be notified May 13. Past winners include Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols, Greg du Toit, and Paul Nicklen. Full contest details are available at the WPY website.

Related:
After Staged-Photo Debacle, World Press Changes Rules

Daniel Berehulak Wins Reportage Photographer of the Year Honors at 2015 POYi Competition

Brad Vest Named Newspaper Photographer of the Year at 2015 POYi Competition

Mads Nissen Wins World Press Photo of the Year 2014 Prize (PDN subscription required)

July 13th, 2015

Pulitzer Center Announces $1 Million Fund for Multimedia Journalism Projects

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting has announced the Catalyst Fund, a new initiative that will support “as many as 40” multimedia journalism projects in the next two years with $1 million in grants made to journalists working with major news outlets.

In addition to supporting the production of multimedia reportage, the Fund will also support journalists in their efforts to disseminate projects to students through presentations at schools and via the Pulitzer Center website.

The Fund is supported by donations from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Kendeda Fund, and from individual donors.

“The Pulitzer Center is a leader among a growing field of nonprofit news organizations bringing creative models of production and dissemination to a disrupted news industry,” said Kathy Im, Director of MacArthur Foundation’s Journalism and Media program, in a statement.

The Pulitzer Center says it has already committed Catalyst Fund support to projects that will be published by The New York Times, National Geographic, MSNBC and other outlets.

Journalists interested in applying for Catalyst Fund grants are encouraged to apply through the Pulitzer Center’s grants portal, here: http://www.pulitzercenter.org/grants

Related: Q&A: How to Get Funding From The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

July 1st, 2015

MoMA’s New Photography Show Expands, Explores “Ocean of Images”

© 2015 Lele Saveri "The Newsstand. 2013–14." Mixed medium installation. Courtesy the artist.

© 2015 Lele Saveri “The Newsstand. 2013–14.” Mixed medium installation. Courtesy the artist.

The Museum of Modern Art has announced that it has selected 19 photographers to be shown in the 2015 edition of its “New Photography” exhibition, opening in November.  The number of photographers in this year’s show is more than double the museum’s previous selections – and that’s appropriate, given that the subtitle of this year’s New Photography exhibition is “Ocean of Images.” 
 
The exhibition will examine the ubiquity of photography today and what the museum describes in its press release as “the Internet as a vortex of images, a site of piracy and a system of networks.” Many of the exhibited photographers experiment with moving images, online remixes of images, installations and images turned into three-dimensional objects.

The title of the photo is provocative in part because it isn’t new.  In a 2014 interview with PDN, MoMA’s chief curator of photography, Quentin Bajac, noted that back in the 1920s and 1930s, critics noted “the ocean of new images, that blizzard of images that is due to the arrival of the illustrated press.”

What will be new in “New Photography 2015” may be the methods by which the exhibiting artists embrace the abundance of digital images. As Bajac told PDN, “Maybe each generation has that feeling that that new amount of images is going to be difficult to absorb, and yet they do.”

The artists in New Photography 2015 are:
Ilit Azoulay (Israeli, b. 1972)
Zbyněk Baladrán (Czech, b. 1973)
Lucas Blalock (American, b. 1978)
Edson Chagas (Angolan, b. 1977)
Natalie Czech (German, b. 1976)
DIS (Collective, founded in New York in 2010)
Katharina Gaenssler (German, b. 1974)
David Hartt (Canadian, b. 1967)
Mishka Henner (Belgian, b. 1976)
David Horvitz  (American, b. 1982)
John Houck (American, b. 1977)
Yuki Kimura (Japanese, b. 1971)
Anouk Kruithof (Dutch, b. 1981)
Basim Magdy (Egyptian, b. 1977)
Katja Novitskova (Estonian, b. 1984)
Marina Pinsky (Russian, b. 1986)
Lele Saveri (Italian, b. 1980)
Indrė Šerpytytė (Lithuanian, b. 1983)
Lieko Shiga (Japanese, b. 1980).

Now in its 30th year, the “New Photography” exhibition has been a showcase and springboard for photographers from around the world, including Mikhael Subotzky, Rineke Dijkstra, Doug Rickard and Viviane Sassen.

“New Photography 2015: Ocean of Images” is curated by Bajac, Senior Curator Roxana Marcoci, and Assistant Curator Lucy Gallun.

When the exhibition opens, MoMA will launch an online platform to show the archive of the New Photography exhibitions of the past 30 years.

Related Articles
MoMA’s New Chief Photo Curator Turns to Studio Photography for First Show

June 17th, 2015

A Photo Editor for Medium Makes the Case for Self-Publishing Platforms

Self-publishing opportunities abound, as we report in a feature story that’s now available at PDNonline.com, called “Are Visual Storytelling Platforms a Good Thing for Photographers?” We interviewed photographers about how they’ve benefitted (or not) from using a variety of platforms, including Exposure.com, Maptia, VSCO Journal, and Medium.

In an effort to promote their work, photographers are filling those sites with what amounts to free content–much of it high-quality content. So the question is, are photographers benefiting from the exposure provided by those platforms, as much as the platform owners are benefitting from the free content they’re vacuuming up?

As the story was going to press, we got a thoughtful response to the question from Keith Axline, the former editor of Wired magazine’s Raw File blog, and now editor of Vantage. An offshoot of Medium, Vantage is new online magazine established to highlight the best photo projects that photographers post on Medium.

Axline’s response came too late to be included in our story. But here’s the question as we posed it, and his response:

PDN: What’s in it for photographers? With a few exceptions, those I’m talking to are reporting that their stories pretty much get buried on these self-publishing platforms, and they don’t really attract clients and assignments. Which suggests they’re of marginal self-promotional value so far. So my question is, how would you try to convince skeptical photographers that these aren’t just more sites vacuuming up free content (photo stories) shot by hungry professionals, for the benefit of the site owners looking to generate ad revenue for themselves?

Keith Axline: It’s a really tough question. Some projects that Vantage profiles, I really love, but they don’t get much traction with readers. It was the same when I was at Raw File at Wired. But others find their audience on Medium when they wouldn’t have found it anywhere else. There’s no one-size-fits-all for every photo project or photographer. Any of these sites, including Medium, is just a tool for photographers and it’s up to them to make the most out of it.

I totally understand the perspective that photo blogs are exploiting photographers by running their stuff without payment. That’s one way to look at it. I see that. Though I disagree with it. At Vantage we only want to make that ask of photographers who are excited to be featured by us and for whom the attention is an asset that outweighs the granted one-time use. It’s not for everyone. Our posts are promotional in nature because we’re excited to talk about photographers’ work. So in that sense whatever the perceived cost of the granted use can be viewed as a marketing expense. We also encourage photographers to contribute to us directly so that there’s no middleman between them and potential fans. They get to see all the traffic to their story, where it came from, and reply directly to comments that readers make.

I also think that it’s not clear to photographers, or most people for that matter, how to turn traffic and viewers into a plus for their business. Hopefully in the future Vantage and Medium can get closer to facilitating that, and I’m happy to have a “best practices” discussion with contributors (I’ve been meaning to even write a few posts about it).

I think anyone who runs a photo publication is passionate about photography to some degree and they’re probably not exactly raking it in from ad revenue. Participating doesn’t make sense for everyone, but there is a large swath of people who would love to be featured. I’ve never heard of anyone regretting being profiled by us, but maybe they’re just being nice.

Related:
Are Visual Storytelling Platforms a Good Thing for Photographers?

June 11th, 2015

Three Reasons to Go 4K

Sponsored by Samsung

Display resolutions don’t change often, but when they do, the change is momentous. When the world switched from standard to high definition, the revolution transformed both the media and electronics industries.

A similar revolution is underway again, as the world starts its trek from high definition to 4K or “ultra-high definition.”

As with any change of this sort, early adopters face a number of challenges before taking the plunge, but those who do strike early can be rewarded. Here are three reasons why now is the best time to invest in 4K.

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Photo © Andrew Putschoegl

It’s the future

The consensus among market research firms is that 4K-television adoption is a matter of “when” not “if”—and the “when” starts just about now. The Consumer Electronics Association projects that 4 million 4K TVs will be shipped this year in the United States alone, up 208 percent from 2014. Worldwide, the trend looks similarly bullish. Futuresource Consulting pegs the global market for 4K TVs at 100 million in just three years, representing more than a third of every TV sold.

As those screens find their way into homes, the race is on to fill them with content that fully takes advantage of all that resolution. It’s why streaming services like Amazon and Netflix are rapidly building up their library of 4K videos, from original programs to feature films and documentaries. YouTube and Vimeo have also rolled out support for 4K video as well.

Whether your video is destined to be viewed on desktop monitors or TVs, creating a 4K “master” of your video is an investment in the future of your work, viewable on the highest quality displays ever built for the world’s living rooms.

It makes your HD video better

Many industries, such as wedding videography, don’t necessarily need to produce a 4K deliverable today. Even if you a client only requires an HD file, it can still make sense to shoot in 4K. All those extra pixels give you ample room to crop or reframe your video to improve image stabilization or remove extraneous detail without sacrificing resolution. You can pan across your 4K video using post-production software without rapidly running out of pixels.

Depending on how you’re shooting, a 4K-video file may also capture more than just additional pixels, but more color information as well. Armed with this additional color information, you can down-sample a 4K file to HD with improved color detail.

Screen Grabs Are Awesome

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Enhance! Zooming in on a 4K screen grab / Photo © Andrew Putschoegl

Shooting in 4K doesn’t just mean high-quality video; it can enhance your still photography, too. Isolating still images from HD video produces images that are a measly 1920×1080 pixels in size or about 2 megapixels—barely enough for a decent print.

A 4K still frame, on the other hand, is a chunkier file, either at 4096×2160 or 3840×2160 pixels in size, depending on your setting. That’s equivalent to an 8-megapixel image, ample resolution to print by.

This doesn’t just mean that stills from your video production will be higher quality (though they will be), it also means you can use 4K video as a “burst mode on steroids” for moving subjects to capture images that your camera might otherwise miss. It’s not necessarily applicable in every situation of course, but it opens up new creative possibilities that aren’t available to you when shooting in high def.

Samsung and PDN recently launched the 4K Filmmaking Challenge, giving motion shooters the opportunity to shoot a short 4K film. One grand-prize winner will receive $2,500, an NX1 and a profile in a print PDN/Samsung supplement. Check it out at 4kfilmmakingchallenge.com

March 23rd, 2015

Unique College Program Helps Environmental Orgs See Value of Photography

© Joshua See

Mammalogist Tom Horsley prepares to remove a captured bat from a high-elevation mist-net in Borneo. Joshua See made this photograph while working with the Royal Ontario Museum as a student in the Environmental Visual Communication program. © Joshua See

Conservation photographer Neil Osborne understands how important visual communication can be to environmental and conservation organizations. Photographs, videos and other forms of visual storytelling can help non-profits share their messages and the work they do with wide audiences. Visual storytelling can also serve as an effective fundraising tool. But many nonprofits spend little on photography and other communications efforts, Osborne notes.

He and his colleagues at the Environmental Visual Communication (EVC) program at Toronto’s Fleming College saw an opportunity to match students with nonprofit organizations that need photography, video and other visual communications assets. Over the past three years they’ve developed a “placement partner” system for the EVC, which gives students real-world experience (and, in some cases, payment) while putting their talents to use for good causes. Many students “publish individual and collaborative works before they even graduate,” Osborne notes. In the process of providing “communication strategy and tactics to these groups to enhance and advance their messaging,” students demonstrate to nonprofits how valuable visual storytelling and the expertise of photographers can be in helping them meet their goals. (more…)

March 18th, 2015

How I Got That Shot: Jamie Kripke’s Ski Racer GIF

© Jamie Kripke

The women’s Giant Slalom at the FIS Alpine World Championships. © Jamie Kripke

Photographer Jamie Kripke missed the deadline to apply for a media pass to the International Ski Federation Alpine World Championships at Beaver Creek, CO. He attended the event anyway. His work on a couple of previous assignments (ex. Olympic gold medalist David Wise) for ESPN involved capturing motion sequences of athletes, so he had an idea of how he could make lemonade from lemons. PDN asked him to explain his process for creating this GIF, a creative visualization of the speed in the women’s Giant Slalom event. Here’s what Kripke told us: (more…)