Convergence is about the technolgy not the skills

Tuesday, October 6, 2009
The Strobist and Chase Jarvis link to a video by Alex Henry with a behind the scenes video for a recent magazine cover. There are several comments in the discussion poo-pooing the current trend of "Convergence". Several comments echo a common attitude i hear in one form or another on several of the blogs and forums I read. When people talk about convergence right now I hear a lot of "It will never happen". Video professionals are upset that photographers are now dabbling in in moving images and visa versa. Each camp remains steadfast they have the better skills and the other has no business crossing over. I've got news for you convergence isn't about skills, its about technology. The technology to create and distribute have converged onto the digital platform. Skills, knowledge, creativity and even economics could not matter less. The tech is converging because the people who make the tools are making it happen. The reason we have the separation we have now is the technologies were not compatible. A printing press is a completely different machine than a TV transmitter. There was not a time when every one came together and some one said moving image makers to this side of the room and still image makers to the other and stay that way. The camps diverged and evolved separately because was no way to put a moving image on a news stand so that a person could take it on the train with them in a way that was feasible or economical. The separation existed because of technological reasons and no other.
As some one who has worked in video for the last 15-20 years, I witnessed and experienced the transitions that occurred in the video"convergence" a while back. It seemed like the NAB show should have changed its name to the convergence show, the term was being shouted at us from every angle. It was the convergence of dedicated proprietary video hardware and analog systems onto a single nexus. The work tools to create content and the tools to deliver converged onto the digital platform(computers). No segment of the industry was left untouched before it was over. I don't thing many of us realized that it was just the beginning and other industries would be swept up along with ours. During this time doors closed and new opportunities were opened and as an industry we adapted. The convergence we are talking about here is once again the convergence of the creation tools and delivery methods. The tools to make images are starting to converge. No longer will stills and moving images have to be created on different pieces of technology. A single device will have the capabilities to do both. We are talking about programming being the main difference no between a sill and a moving image camera now not the chips, or the storage, or the lens, or whatever. There will still be tools that are better suited to any task but at their heart they will be the same technology. The tools are going to converge into a single family of devices that capture images. The second part of convergence is the delivery, The idea of delivering on print is rapidly becoming something that is only done if you have no other choice. Delivery will continue to converge on to the data networks(internet). there are no longer technological barriers to keep print/still separated from moving images. It's all data. Once again it's programming. In the industry every one will have to adapt whether you want to or not. It happened in the print industry when quark took over from the manual lay out artist, they changed. It happened in radio when records went away. It happened when the editors had to switch from film and video tape to computerized NLE's. It is now happening as the still world moves to digital. As a portrait guy specialized in portraits and the news guy specialized in photo journalism, new specialties will arise that deal with the hybrid and converged medias . New opportunities will open up, it happens every time, and those who say it wont happen will be the ones who will miss those doors opening. At the core of it all is creating impactful and desirable images. Composition is composition as it was for the old masters who only knew the brush and canvas. Light and shadow will not go away. We will build upon the lesson of those who went before us and leave knowledge and images for those who will follow us. they will in turn use what we leave them in ways we can not even begin to imagine. Oh yeah wait FYI 3-d is on its way, so maybe ... just maybe ... composition and light will change too.


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