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Photographers, You're Being Replaced By Software

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the join-the-club dept.

Graphics 282

Mrs. Grundy writes "CGI software, even open-source software like Blender, continues to improve in quality, speed and ease-of-use. Photographer Mark Meyer wonders how long it will be before large segments of the photography industry are replaced by software and become the latest casualty to fall to outsourcing. Some imagery once the domain of photographers has already moved to CGI. Is any segment of the photography market safe? Will we soon accept digital renderings in places where we used to expect photographs?"

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282 comments

CGI wishes (5, Insightful)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#40005769)

CGI has a LONG way to go before it can replace a good photograph. A well-composed, well-lit photograph can say more than most 3D animations ever could. And a photo is a lot easier and cheaper to produce. Who is going to pay a team of digital artists $100 an hour to create a 3D model of something when you can just tell Jimmy Olsen to go take a picture of it for a pittance?

The software to do 3D may be getting easier and cheaper. But good 3D artists aren't. And a single picture of a wounded, crying girl in Syria will always have a helluva lot more power than any 3D rendering of the deployment of Syrian forces. Photography isn't going all-CGI any more than movies are.

Re:CGI wishes (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40005829)

That and I think there will be backlash against it as consumers find out. Some things you just don't care. Other things you really want to see the real thing, even if it were inferior to a rendering.

What I'll be curious to see is how many places we're okay with digital renderings in lieu of human models. It could have real advantages, you could actually see clothing on a model that you load up that looks like you (instead of the same 25 stick figures with exchangeable faces).

Re:CGI wishes (2)

yotto (590067) | about 2 years ago | (#40006217)

It could have real advantages, you could actually see clothing on a model that you load up that looks like you (instead of the same 25 stick figures with exchangeable faces).

No, it'll be your face on the stick figure model.

Re:CGI wishes (2, Funny)

durrr (1316311) | about 2 years ago | (#40006257)

That's an awsome idea, why hire a wedding photographer when you can outsource it to a chinese 3d rendering company, and the results will be so much better!

Re:CGI wishes (2)

Jetra (2622687) | about 2 years ago | (#40005835)

Most of the populace are getting dumber as more electronic toys come into play. Also, most people have become lazy and welcome in the easy machines as well as those who work themselves half to death.

Re:CGI wishes (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40006129)

Most of the populace are getting dumber as more electronic toys come into play.

Really? All the data I've seen indicate that average people keep getting smarter.

Re:CGI wishes (4, Insightful)

rubycodez (864176) | about 2 years ago | (#40005839)

romantic bullshit, CGI replacement of photography and motion pictures is already happening. You think a person with artistic talent in 3rd world who will work for 1/100 the rate of your "pros" has less talent? The ever more powerful cheap computer will level that field fast and soon.

Re:CGI wishes (5, Insightful)

plover (150551) | about 2 years ago | (#40006167)

The balance point comes when the cost of creating and rendering the model to an adequate degree equals the cost of photographing reality.

So for things you're going to reuse in a lot of scenes, such as a car that turns into a giant robot, yeah, the 3D model is way cheaper. For a revolting uncanny-valley version of Tom Hanks on a steam train in a blizzard, 3D is cheaper (but not better.) For a one-off modeling job to create a beautiful person using a product for an advertisement, the effort required to create the model and environment still takes a lot of human work to make it happen. Not that it doesn't take hours of makeup and lighting and staging to photograph the beautiful person and the product, just that the balance is still on the side of the photographer.

Are you imagining a future where an advertising agency has thousands of pre-rendered models they can toss into an environment, slap a couple of boxes of product images onto the virtual tabletop, and click "print"? They do some of that today. But a lot of them have to be careful that they aren't misrepresenting the products. You can show a virtual package under a virtual christmas tree making a virtual kid virtually happy. But you can't show 3D rendered oranges and say "look how perfect our oranges are!" The FTC does have regulatory authority there, and will investigate misleading imagery in advertising.

The thing about 3D modeling (or even 2D art, such as painting), is that a good rendering takes a tremendous amount of talent. I'm not talking about abstract art, or crayon-outlined cartoons, but creating photorealistic imagery takes a trained eye, requiring roughly the same skills as the photographer. A computer can do some of the work, such as making sure the model's foot is touching the floor, but it can't yet give you a sense of balance. That only comes as input from the human operator.

Re:CGI wishes (2)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 2 years ago | (#40006593)

romantic bullshit, CGI replacement of photography and motion pictures is already happening.

Yes and no.

I sincerely doubt you could get some guy with a copy of, say, Poser [smithmicro.com] to whomp out something that an ordinary Joe would look at and go "neat photo!" (I picked on Poser because it doesn't cost thousands of bucks to get, unlike most of the high-end packages).

Most CGI replacements in motion pictures happen either with non-human figures, or with massive crowds in the background where detail is a low priority, and most of it is fuzzed by motion or distance. Also notice that I only said motion pictures - still photography requires a hell of a lot more attention to detail; it's something that requires a shit-ton more skill than the average Dave of Mumbai is going to have, even with a script to guide him.

Re:CGI wishes (5, Insightful)

idontgno (624372) | about 2 years ago | (#40005865)

Who is going to pay a team of digital artists $100 an hour to create a 3D model of something when you can just tell Jimmy Olsen to go take a picture of it for a pittance?

Someone who wants a "picture" for evidence of an event which never actually happened. If the synthesized image is good enough, it will gain all the credibility that apparently-untouched photographs have. If the viewer can't tell it's 'shopped, it would take remarkable skepticism or some inherent distrust of whomever's presenting the image to disbelieve it.

Re:CGI wishes (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40006083)

The U.S. should outlaw the use of photoshop by corporations in advertising and reporting.

Re:CGI wishes (1)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | about 2 years ago | (#40006265)

The U.S. should outlaw the use of photoshop by corporations in advertising and reporting.

In the name of what? Certainly not freedom.

If your leanings are as I suspect they are towards the lack of need for a totalitarian regime due to high moral standards and solidarity, you should rather than oppose one thing support its competition. On the government level in this case it can be for example be subsidies for advertisement that inform rather than build image.

Re:CGI wishes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40006351)

His claims are always made in the name of trolling, certainly not freedom.

Re:CGI wishes (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#40006427)

Why should the government pay for advertising?

You do not have the freedom to lie to sell a product without repercussions. We have plenty of laws against that. All that should be done is those laws strengthened.

Re:CGI wishes (1)

jythie (914043) | about 2 years ago | (#40006437)

Well, for advertising at least it might already be covered under rules governing fraud or false/misleading advertising.

Re:CGI wishes (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40006477)

>>>In the name of what? Certainly not freedom.

In the name of "You do what the government tells you to do, otherwise we will revoke the incorporation license you were granted." Just the same as a driver loses his/her license if she doesn't buckle a seatbelt or drinks alcohol while driving.

Re:CGI wishes (5, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | about 2 years ago | (#40006493)

The U.S. should outlaw the use of photoshop by corporations in advertising and reporting.

What about businesses that aren't incorporated? Should a dog groomer who uses a photo of the front of her house as part of her promotional web site be allowed to 'shop out the overhead power lines that distract the eye from the otherwise pleasant, relaxing scene? Yes? Great. How about next year, when her accountant convinces her that it will make more sense for her to incorporate her business. Will she have to put the power lines back in, now that the photograph is being used by an Eeeeevil Corporation in its ads?

How about the four college buddies who get together in an Eeeeeevil Corporation and form a landscaping company? Should they be allowed to show a photograph of one of the yards they maintain, but use Photoshop to clone out the pile of dog crap they didn't notice when they took the photo? So, if you're free-lancing by yourself as a landscaper, that would be fine, but an Eeeeevil Corporation of four college guys would be more evil by doing so? Or is it still OK with you, if it's four guys? How about when they join up with 40 other guys, to do more work? Is cloning out the dog crap or the piece of trash in the photo only evil depending on how many people are communicating when they do it? Really?

I suppose you're also opposed to Eeeeeevil Corporations using wide angle lenses, or special lighting, or make up artists? And photographs used by businesses should only be allowed if the photographer never crouches down to improve the perspective distortion, or to favor the light on a foreground object? Only Eeeeevil Corporations would do something like that. Honest, innocent individual humans would never resort to favoring the subjects they photograph through the use of skills and experience and good tools.

And, of course, it's safe to say that you would completely criminalize the use of watercolor paintings, sketches or any other bit of whimsy that lends itself to artistic license and illustrative techniques meant to emphasize, visually, some particular part of a message. Right? I mean, if people start using artists' renderings in ads, it's probably the end of civilization, right?

Think about this for a minute, OK? Yeeesh.

Re:CGI wishes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40006197)

Be more reaslistic and cheaper to hire a photographer and an actress then... Faking pictures does not require CGI unless it involves a famous person, in which cause would be image editing rather then generating.

Re:CGI wishes (3, Insightful)

kubernet3s (1954672) | about 2 years ago | (#40006421)

The reason photographs are authoritative is because we believe that the only way to secure a photograph is to actually snap a camera in front of the event. If photorealistic images can be generated without this, then why should we lend photographs any credibility? Already, people's reaction to photographs showing things they don't want to be true is "that's totally photoshopped." Photography's saving grace has always been that it is fairly easy to tell the real from the fake for all but the highest quality forgeries, and then an expert can usually uncover it. Once people simply "don't know" if a picture is true, then the age of the photograph as a means of record will be dead. They will carry all the journalistic weight of engravings or portraits.

However, as the parent suggests, if something DOES happen, and you desire a record of it, it will be cheaper to secure that record by photographing it, rather than rendering it.

Re:CGI wishes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40005877)

And a single picture of a wounded, crying girl in Syria will always have a helluva lot more power than any 3D rendering of the deployment of Syrian forces. Photography isn't going all-CGI any more than movies are.

Polar Express, Avatar, etc... We're getting closer all the time. Can you tell the diff between FIFA 2012 and a real soccar game (if you only saw the far shots)

Re:CGI wishes (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40006145)

If you can't tell the difference between FIFA 2012 and a real game, you're legally blind. But more importantly, in the news coverage of a soccer game, do you want to see a picture of the winning goal, or a rendering of what the winning goal may or may not have looked like? Yes, CGI will slowly replace things like stock photography, but the vast majority of professional photography cannot be replaced, as the entire point of it is a snapshot of what happened, not a rendering of what may have happened.

Re:CGI wishes (5, Insightful)

SoupGuru (723634) | about 2 years ago | (#40005905)

Photography as art is going nowhere soon. Same with photojournalism, most likely.

Commercial photography is what's going to be replaced.

Re:CGI wishes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40006053)

Like painting you mean? The same way that photography made painting obsolete and so nobody does it anymore?

No, wait ...

Re:CGI wishes (5, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | about 2 years ago | (#40006277)

All of painting wasn't obsoleted, but photography did greatly reduce the size of the portrait-painting market, which used to be important and lucrative. Rich people paying to have their portraits painted used to be the main way a lot of artists made a living, but that occupation took a real nose-dive in the early 20th century.

Re:CGI wishes (2)

jythie (914043) | about 2 years ago | (#40006489)

True, but it was not wiped out. Specific segments of the painting industry were significantly reduced, but there is still a pretty solid luxury market for portraits. A smaller one yes, but not gone.

Which is probably what will happen with photography too (and many argue that video has already wiped out things like photojournalism, but I think they are being a bit hysterical or at least paying way too much attention to new toys).. some types will migrate to hobbies, some types will be reduced, some will probably be fine.

Re:CGI wishes (2)

undeadbill (2490070) | about 2 years ago | (#40006407)

I'd agree. In fact, people trained as professional artists and photographers are in demand by the same companies that make their living on 3D rendering and imaging. All of those "realistic" lighting effects in CGI come from people with an extensive background in film and photography creating virtual light rigs, etc, to create the realism people think is so easy to achieve.

Re:CGI wishes (2)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about 2 years ago | (#40005947)

CGI is replacing actual photos in the stock picture business, and in the catalog business. I haven't seen an office catalog in years that uses actual pictures. It's all semi-competent CGI.

Re:CGI wishes (4, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#40006063)

CGI is replacing actual photos in the stock picture business, and in the catalog business. I haven't seen an office catalog in years that uses actual pictures. It's all semi-competent CGI.

I know for a fact, err, trustworthy heresay... that almost all electronic catalog "pictures" are 3-d CAD renderings, sometimes with a bit of photoshop. I'm talking about real EE component catalogs, not best buy consumer catalogs.

From trying to take pictures of things I've built, its an unholy PITA and depth of field and reflections and lighting are agonizing. You can look at the pic of a PCB, lets say a stereotypical switching power supply module, and try to figure out how I could get that depth of field and lighting without reflection issues and suddenly realize, this was done in Solidworks not a camera.

If you want to see how bad "real pictures" of electronic devices/components look, try trashy photos of that stuff on ebay. Some of those guys are obviously not even wiping the human grease off the cellphone camera lens first.

Re:CGI wishes (4, Insightful)

squidflakes (905524) | about 2 years ago | (#40006151)

Real pictures look trashy on eBay because real professional photographers aren't taking them. Getting rid of glare and getting the proper depth of field are beginner level, and most people don't even have that. A good light box can be home built for a few dollars. Most of the really good depth of field comes from a large format camera with motions, and while the digital ones are expensive they can be rented for cheap.

Still, you're right in that a lot of component pictures are CGI, but it isn't because competent photographers can't get the shots, its because someone decided it was cheaper.

Re:CGI wishes (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#40006229)

Here's a "eh" solidworks PCB. Give it a bit of cleanup, but it on a background like a model's palm/hand, put it right side up so you can read (how did that slip thru?), work a little on the textures, and its all good.

http://bdm.cc/projects/zigboard/zigboard3d.jpg [bdm.cc]

Here's a "eh" real photo of a PCB which may or may not link properly. Lets list the faults. Bad lighting leads to shadows, half of each resistor is illuminated and half in shadow. bright camera flash reflection in the center and off some solder joints. The focus plane is obviously near the camera... look at the solder joints holding the two PCBs together, you can see whats going on but they're not in sharp focus.

http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRX2GcAILgBYtnWR-Lc8zHzMjLZthhM-m4knUhtKxZEs82qOQlbuFqHXXCLqw [gstatic.com]

Now you have to realize the solidworks example is at least an attempt at a marketing mock up, and the genuine pic is merely trying to show a manufacturing fault to someone else, not create a work of art. Still, they're fairly typical examples of what you easily get with CGI vs pics.

Re:CGI wishes (3, Insightful)

rufty_tufty (888596) | about 2 years ago | (#40005949)

Were painters redundant when photography was invented?
Yes, many of the portrait painters were. But those skills of composing a shot, working with people were still needed. New opportunities were created, the photography + painting business ended up as being bigger than what had been the painting business alone.

Things change; this is good.

Re:CGI wishes (2)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 years ago | (#40005971)

Put another way: we've got another 10 years or so.

The 3D models are getting easier and easier to build, they can be captured from photography.

So, when Syria blows up again in 2025, you use some stock footage from 2012, compile it up, and blend it into a recent cityscape render of wherever you want the injured little girl and her family to appear.

Saves a trip around the world, and safer than putting a professional in a war zone.

Re:CGI wishes (3)

JimCanuck (2474366) | about 2 years ago | (#40006109)

So, when Syria blows up again in 2025, you use some stock footage from 2012, compile it up, and blend it into a recent cityscape render of wherever you want the injured little girl and her family to appear.

Saves a trip around the world, and safer than putting a professional in a war zone.

Which not only makes it not news, it makes it at best discreditable that the fighting in 2025 as you say is actually happening, at worst, its simply propaganda designed to make foreign intervention easier.

Either way, the fighting, the injured little girl, and her family do not exist.

There are reasons, especially for some important cases, that even today the FBI, and other developed nations national police forces still take out the film cameras instead of digital cameras. Because even the suspected photoshop of a digital picture is grounds to throw it out and make it inadmissible to be used as evidence.

Re:CGI wishes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40006067)

After looking at some of the better life simulated images on cghub.com, it really isn't that far fetched a decade out. That being said, you're still right in that it's easier and cheaper to use photography, and I don't see that going away for the foreseeable future.

Until prerendered environments of anywhere, and everywhere, on the planet are easily downloadable and editable, essentially decreasing picture creation time equivocal to the sume total of travel time, scene modification plus post-processing, photography will still be around.

And even when we reach some sort of scene rendering singularity, photography for stock sampling and inspiration isn't going to go away. It's just too flexible and dynamic a medium for it to become obsolete.

Nor would I like for it ever go away. There's always the mental aspect of knowing that the photographic content was a real moment in time, and not simulated.

Re:CGI wishes (3, Informative)

0100010001010011 (652467) | about 2 years ago | (#40006079)

You mean like all those pinup photos from WWII? Here's a before and after [imgur.com]. (NSFWish, they're pinups). People have been photoshopping since before photoshop was invented. They still paid a team of analog artists to fix up all those photographs.

Re:CGI wishes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40006185)

It's not really just about CGI or "software" replacing photographers.
They're being "replaced" by dropping consumer standards. When people are happy with poorly composed cell phone snap shots, who needs a professional?

Re:CGI wishes (5, Interesting)

njen (859685) | about 2 years ago | (#40006187)

As a CG artist, I can tell you that I have been producing photoreal imagery for almost a decade now. We are already past the point where CG can replace a good photo.

For example, in The Avengers, during the final battle sequence, most of the shots in the city are 100% CG, background buildings and all. Even in many of the "non FX" type films, I can assure you there are lot's of CG going on. Which is why I love it when people tell me that they hate CG films because it's so obvious, then I give them a quick list of films they have seen and give them examples where they have watched CG without even knowing it.

Re:CGI wishes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40006603)

So if they didn't tear down half of Manhattan why did I have to pay $9.50 to see it? :D

Re:CGI wishes (1)

squidflakes (905524) | about 2 years ago | (#40006205)

Who is going to pay a team of digital artists $100 an hour to create a 3D model of something when you can just tell Jimmy Olsen to go take a picture of it for a pittance?

Professional photographers, even freelance ones, don't work for a pittance. Newspapers and news websites LOVE croud sourced images because they are free. Most people get warm fuzzies when their terrible point and shoot picture of a cat appears in the paper or some big site and they'll gleefully hand over the rights to whoever asks. This is in stark contrast to all of those pesky photographers who demand funny things like money and credit for their work, and sometimes even recognition that they've just risked their life for that half-page full-bleed, full-color image you just ran on page 1.

I work in both worlds (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40006245)

I've done all sorts of photography professionally - from fine art, documentary, photojournalism, weddings, to commercial (not at the same time). And by professional, I mean, actually getting paid for it and making a living and renting cameras, grip, lights, assistants - the whole gamut. I have since switched to 3D and I tell you it's slower because I have to do everything myself. It's not like animators or modelers are clamoring for still image jobs. I have to model, texture, build the shader, and light the scene everything myself (which isn't hard with my background - but radiosity is another matter). That's at least a 2-3 week additional work time for a project.

Photography won't be replaced by CGI any time soon because the former is faster. I can hire a crew and equipment and finish a shoot in 10-12 hours tops. CG supplements it with set extension or environment/ object replacement, but to create something CG from scratch takes a very long time. I give CG this: it's easier to setup lights whereas in real life you need an electrician or a generator for larger projects, especially if it's on-location outdoors. You also need a lift and an experienced assistant to operate them, and an impeccable sense of where the wires are of course, have safety in mind at all times. With CG, I just click a light node and bam, I can duplicate 2k lights down a tunnel for a car shoot. Obviously, the downside is the render time, particularly when you have to bounce and diffuse it but if you can segment the 6k image to different quadrants per render node, and rent a render farm, it's efficient.

Overall workflow, photography is faster in my experience only because there's people available to hire. Where I'm at, there's not too many freelance CG artists, or artists who knows lighting (because it affects the shader and vice-versa), and almost no photographer/ assistant know how to do CG. I seriously doubt CG will overtake commercially produced still photography (as opposed to wedding, event, documentary, etc).

Re:CGI wishes (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 2 years ago | (#40006251)

> CGI has a LONG way to go before it can replace a good photograph.

The problem is that most aren't, or they are something that can be replicated by amateurs.

When you've got a billion amateurs taking a trillion photos, chances are that a lot of what professionals do will become unnecessary. Photography will likely still thrive. It's the professional work that will become marginalized.

Re:CGI wishes (2)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#40006413)

Hand-rendered artwork [wikipedia.org] has been fooling people into thinking it was photography since before photography existed. I doubt CGI will ever replace photography completely, but I can see pro photographers needing to learn CGI.

Note the link is about photorealism, but artists have made paintings that you'd swear were photos since the ancient Roman times.

A photographer is a painter without eye-hand coordination. He needs the same compositional skills and knowledge of color, light, etc. that a painter does, but doesn't have to need the skill to render it by hand.

Re:CGI wishes (2)

budgenator (254554) | about 2 years ago | (#40006445)

Your probably correct for news photography, but you might be surprised at other areas. My boss's Little Brother is a 3D artist and in a previous employment they were working on a project for an automotive company, he was literally editing out microscopic details of laser scans of car bodies to get the files down to a reasonable size. The project was to build a library of Production cars that included every part, so they could "fly" the camera through the car and you would see the engine, transmission or even the CD player from the inside. Marketing was loving this as they would no longer have multi-million photo shoots cancelled due to errant clouds when you could just CGI it. A surprising secondary benefit was the building a searchable database of car parts which is allowing the company to prune out redundancy and icreasing interchangeability amongst different lines (Volkswagon-Audi is the interchangeability King).

Re:CGI wishes (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40006451)

Exactly. Article is hyper hyperbole, bording on bullshit.

Let's see, I can pay an photographer a couple grand for thousands of pictures in a day, or I can pay a digital artist ten thousand and a week for one. And that's assuming its a product which lends itself well toward digital composition. There are still many things which don't.

Re:CGI wishes (3, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 2 years ago | (#40006467)

Exactly.

Right now, even the absolute best efforts don't fail to completely escape the uncanny valley [wikipedia.org], and the few that almost do usually require days of postwork and effort after the main render, just to get them that far. I won't even mention the hundreds of man-hours required to get up a proper mesh, get the lighting and composition just right, and then to wait out the render times (LuxRender, one of the better ones out there, will consume endless hours on end just to get up a complete render on a small image.)

As someone who has had a lot of fun in the CG realm for over a decade now, I know that it is *almost* possible, but won't be for a long time - especially not to the point where fully photorealistic images can be rendered out of thin air by some CG sweatshop in China.

Re:CGI wishes (1)

stewbee (1019450) | about 2 years ago | (#40006471)

Who is going to pay a team of digital artists $100 an hour to create a 3D model of something when you can just tell Jimmy Olsen to go take a picture of it for a pittance?

My dad is a photographer. While you might think that you could just hire any old "Jimmy Olsen" to capture some pictures, your quality will usually suffer if you go for the lowest bidder just like in anything else. The going rate for most professional photographers is probably greater than the $100/hr. I honestly don't know how much my dad bills per hour. If I recall he typically bills by day or by half day. But what you do get when you hire him is someone with years of experience doing photo shoots, where you need to balance the needs of the customer and artistic director, knows all the lighting tricks to emphasize or de-emphasize attributes of the object being photographed, and someone with a deft hand at Photoshop to fix things that were not caught on the day of the photo shoot.

To make a comparison, I know how to point my camera and take pictures. However I usually just let the camera figure out the aperture and speed settings. This typically results in a picture that has so much flash that it wipes out the backgrounds of most photos, for better or for worse. My dad on the other hand would go through the motions of setting his own aperture and speeds to convey the proper mood of the entire setting and still have them turn out properly without much trial and error. And as you might expect, his pictures are much, much better than mine.

Hell yeah! (5, Funny)

lxs (131946) | about 2 years ago | (#40005799)

I know that when I get married, I won't be hiring a photographer. Instead I'll hire Pixar to make a 15 minute short commemorating the occasion.

Re:Hell yeah! (4, Insightful)

scubamage (727538) | about 2 years ago | (#40005853)

I wish in that case it isn't like Up. Most heartbreakingly beautiful 7 minutes ever rendered.

Re:Hell yeah! (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 2 years ago | (#40005871)

"I know that when I get married ... I'll hire Pixar to make a 15 minute short commemorating the occasion."

Hey ... if your going for fantasy, you might as well take it all the way, right!

Re:Hell yeah! (1)

Idbar (1034346) | about 2 years ago | (#40005879)

Darn! I got married already.

But I guess I won't be needing children if I can render them. No student loans for my non-existent kids! I can also make my babies look cuter and anyone else!

Re:Hell yeah! (2)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#40005989)

Video is a big problem for photographers and not in the way you specify.

A big part of being a photographer is getting just the right moment for the shot at the perfect angle. An instant in time.

Now you just run a high def video camera, walk around and wave the camera, and pick the best individual frame later.

Aside from weddings, this is also causing license chaos because people used to purchase and pay separate photo and video rights at sporting events... why pay for photo rights if you can just use a single video frame, and why miss the action if you can just use a video camera. So enforcement is all confused about that. The fairest way to charge for "rights" at sporting events seems to be by ounce of gear hauled into the venue. I know there have already been court cases over video camera guys selling single frames to newspapers, but I don't know how they've turned out.

Re:Hell yeah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40006025)

"Woah! Check out what that guy on the street's doing over there! That's awesome! Okay, quick, someone set him up with a mocap suit, you guys go model the downtown area, I'll get to work on making the textures..."

Not outsourcing (5, Informative)

scubamage (727538) | about 2 years ago | (#40005821)

Not to be semantic, but this is not outsourcing. Outsourcing would suggest that they'd hire a photographer overseas to do the job at a lower rate. This is elimination of the job by technological advance (not sure if there is a buzzword synonym or not).

Re:Not outsourcing (1)

Coisiche (2000870) | about 2 years ago | (#40005951)

Ah, what this means is that instead of hiring a local photographer at local rates you can get a cheaper overseas person to remotely take photographs via a, soon to be ubiqitous, drone.

None of which will be quite the same as having an experienced photographer right in front of you; but such is progress.

Re:Not outsourcing (1)

njen (859685) | about 2 years ago | (#40006075)

No, what it means is that instead of hiring a local photographer at local rates, you hire a local CG artist at local rates.

Re:Not outsourcing (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40006003)

Not to be semantic, but this is not outsourcing. Outsourcing would suggest that they'd hire a photographer overseas to do the job at a lower rate. This is elimination of the job by technological advance (not sure if there is a buzzword synonym or not).

Sorry, you are referring to "offshoring" not "outsourcing." You can domestically outsource something. Outsource does not equal moving functions to another country.

Re:Not outsourcing (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 2 years ago | (#40006027)

(not sure if there is a buzzword synonym or not)

"Made redundant". "Replaced". "Consolidated".

Yeah, come to think of it, I have nothing great either. They're all just generic terms for, "we're laying you off because we don't need you any more". Even so, it's not outsourcing, and I honestly doubt photographers are in any more danger than singers are from vocaloids. In fact, they're in less danger, I'd wager.

Re:Not outsourcing (1)

SirWhoopass (108232) | about 2 years ago | (#40006113)

Dr. Alan Grant: It looks like we're out of a job.

Dr. Ian Malcolm: Don't you mean extinct?

Jurassic Park (1993)

Re:Not outsourcing (2)

paintballer1087 (910920) | about 2 years ago | (#40006169)

Not to be semantic, but this is not outsourcing. Outsourcing would suggest that they'd hire a photographer overseas to do the job at a lower rate. This is elimination of the job by technological advance (not sure if there is a buzzword synonym or not).

Not to be semantic, but this is not outsourcing and neither is your definition. Outsourcing would suggest that they'd hire a a 3rd party company to do the work instead of doing it in house. Offshoring would suggest that they'd hire a photographer overseas to do the job at a lower rate.

anxiety is not necessary response to everything (2)

laudunum (585188) | about 2 years ago | (#40005841)

Agreed. Why do people feel the need to be anxious? It's just not necessary. Besides, what really matters is composition. And as crazy has already noted, this really only applies to heavily composed photography, not spontaneous. So, yeah, stock photographers might need to be on the lookout, but photojournalists? Not so much.

Re:anxiety is not necessary response to everything (0)

rubycodez (864176) | about 2 years ago | (#40005889)

because photo journalists never have their work "spiced up" in the darkroom or in photoshop? ha!

Re:anxiety is not necessary response to everything (1)

jythie (914043) | about 2 years ago | (#40006599)

That still uses a photograph as the source material. The suggestion here is that CGI will replace the source material with some type of super AI editing tools or database of easily modified scenes/models/objects.

Yes, of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40005861)

It's just a matter of time... At the moment it's easier to get a real pic and edit but when you have a library of objects to choose that are all customisable then it's just a matter of rendering... getting a good program to identify the textures and boundary's and fill in the detail. I think we do still need a leap in processing power before this is truly viable.

get real man (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40005903)

do you know how long it takes to make a photorealistic sneaker, motorcycle or wristwatch in blender? now compare that with how long it takes to take a picture of a sneaker, motorcycle or wristwatch with a camera....

Re:get real man (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40006527)

But you already have a sneaker model from when you designed the sneaker. Same for the motorcycle and wristwatch.

And the backdrop, you'll pay "BackDropsAreUs" $10,000 to license their "basketball court in the 'hood" scene for use in your commercial. And you'll pay [insert awesome basketball player] for the rights to hid rendering, but won't have to pay him to travel on site.

The only thing that will make this not cost effective, in the long run (the tech isn't there yet), is if the value of the resulting work is so much lower. If consumers see the [insert basketball player] commercial that's entirely rendered and say "I don't want that shoe, it's not really there" then it's worth it to film the real thing. If they don't know or care then yes this is where it's going to go.

No one has pointed this out yet but it's also only a matter of time before movies can be CGI and look just like the real deal. The only thing that will seem fake is that the acting is too good and there aren't any wardrobe errors or inconsistencies in eating scenes.

more valuable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40005921)

it will dilute the existing pool of photographs while making those photographs taken by a human all the more valuable. in fact this is true for a majority of what happens with technology. a tradtional task performed by a human is computerized, and the original ttadtion becomes more valuable. so this is a non-story.

Visual Stimuli... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40005941)

So... visual stimuli to replace.... visual stimuli! No reason why it shouldn't. The only situation where I can see rendered images not "beating" photography are situational photography (those unique shots taken at the right time, with the right angle that portraits REAL and profound situations summarized in a single shot) because a render will be a rough extrapolation while the photography freezes a real moment. Else, can't see why a visual stimuli can't replace another and similar visual stimuli.

Painters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40005953)

thought they would be replaced by photographers.

The professional photographer is being replaced (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40005969)

But it won't be by expensive graphic artists using 3D modeling software.

The replacement for the "photographer" will be a camera operator. The camera operator will use off the shelf click and shoot hardware and idiot proof processing software. The camera operator might be an intern, a secretary, or even a marketroid who needs to know nothing about the art of photography but can envision how he wants the image to appear. Outside the workplace, the operator might be a wedding guest or a fellow parent at a graduation.

We're entering an era in which the creation of stunning, quality images will not be the exclusive domain of "photographers" with four year degrees and the need to pay off that $100k in student loans. Much of the photography curriculum has shifted from technical knowledge to borderline pretentious composition.

When everyone carries a high quality camera in their pocket, and can use a wizard interface to post-process photos, there won't be much need for trained "photographers" who spent four years learning how to produce compositions the rest of us plebs don't "get."

Photography "replaced" painting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40005993)

When photography was first getting started, there were a lot of people complaining that it would destroy painting as a medium. They also claimed that taking a picture was too easy; there was no art involved.

Now we laugh at those quaint ideas, because we accept photography as a legitimate artistic medium, just another way of expressing oneself, like writing, sculpture, and yes, painting.

CGI will probably end up being the same way. Maybe it will be easier to set up just the right "shot" in CGI rather than use a traditional camera. But that doesn't matter. A good artist in any medium uses the tools at his disposal to best portray what he sees in his mind, whether that image comes from memory, pure imagination, or what's right in front of him.

Digital Blasphemy (1)

overshoot (39700) | about 2 years ago | (#40006029)

I have my desktop set up to use Ryan Bliss' art [digitalblasphemy.com] as wallpaper, and a lot of people see the nature scenes and think they're photographs. And, frankly, some of them really are that good.

On the other hand, good as Bliss and others may be, I really do prefer the actual photographs that $HERSELF takes. It's hard to compete with Mother Nature.

Re:Digital Blasphemy (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | about 2 years ago | (#40006281)

a lot of people see the nature scenes and think they're photographs

I can see thinking they started with photographs, but really? They need to get outside more. :)

I'm sure they're quaking in their boots (2)

TorrentFox (1046862) | about 2 years ago | (#40006031)

Ignoring the technical aspect... there is (amazingly!) an artistic component to getting a good shot. It's not as simple as pointing at what you want to photograph and hitting a button. You may replicate this if you have an eye for composition, but a human still has to make that decision at some point, and that person may well be (or have been) a photographer.

"Even" Blender? (1)

Sachant (2085068) | about 2 years ago | (#40006057)

Having used both Maya and Blender for major projects, Blender isn't the one we need to make excuses for in terms of usability.

Too late (1)

koan (80826) | about 2 years ago | (#40006061)

"Will we soon accept digital renderings in places where we used to expect photographs?"

We already do, car advertising in particular, but soon, very soon, SITCOM's, movies, and other forms of "entertainment" will be done entirely in the digital domain, why pay for an actor when you can render him/her and get a perfect shot every time? NO attitude, no drug problems, no million dollars paychecks.

Did anyone catch 2Pac's return to the stage? As cheesy as it was it is the holy grail, a performer in demand that never dies or creates other issues and is under total control.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGbrFmPBV0Y [youtube.com]

If we continue to develop our technology without wisdom or prudence, our servant may prove to be our executioner.
Omar N. Bradley

Re:Too late (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#40006107)

"Did anyone catch 2Pac's return to the stage? "

Yes I did, and it was hokey at best. The Gorillaz are more convincing on stage than that badly rendered 2 pack. All the closeup images look like he is a video game character..

Yeah, Right..... (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#40006091)

Call me when you can render the Wedding party in Blender. Or the Latest NFL game shots in blender. OR better yet, Any journalisim photos in blender.

Maybe the useless inanimate object in a studio for advertising photographers have no more job, but the rest of us that actually capture reality have nothing to worry about.

Replace? (1)

avandesande (143899) | about 2 years ago | (#40006143)

Companies already do cgi marketing campaigns in addition to photographic ones- and they will continue to do so in the future.

Where does the film will never die part fit in? (1)

techsimian (2555762) | about 2 years ago | (#40006209)

The film manufacturers are stopping production on many varieties of film because it just doesn't sell. Turns out all those sweaty, wild-eyed, frothy-mouthed, if-I-cant-take-it-in-camera-I-dont-want-it film buffs are shooting brackets and tone mapping the hell out of their photoshop'd pics. What's a Luddite that riots AND embraces the steam looms?

What? (1)

denmarkw00t (892627) | about 2 years ago | (#40006235)

> "easy-of-use"
> software replacing photographers = outsourcing?

I'm not bothering to RTFA, as from my standpoint I'm not too worried about software replacing photographers. Some conveniences will come into play - an automated system at Rite Aid to take your photo, maybe a kiosk downtown that takes your picture and then makes a caricature. But then, the summary seems to focus on rendering vs actual photographs, which I think we won't really see much of - sometimes it's easier to render, but most of the time you pay a lot less to have someone go out and snap 20 photos vs having a 3D designer toil away on sketches, mockups, renderings, etc.

Once the data is there, yes (3, Insightful)

russellh (547685) | about 2 years ago | (#40006259)

A photograph requires a subject - similarly, a cgi render requires scene data. If you have the scene data, such as a product model, or a mountain, then you can take a virtual photograph by setting the lighting, framing the scene, etc.

So let's say I want an image looking up a tall skycraper from the ground. I could go out, find a location, wait for the right weather and lighting conditions and take my traditional photograph. Or, if I happen to be able to find a skyscraper model, I could easily compose the exact scene I want in my computer. Faster, probably. And maybe with Google's or someone else's increasingly accurate data, it could be an actual skyscraper and not just some stock model. So yeah, this will replace a lot of traditional photography, without a doubt.

But art is always up to the artist.

It's all about money (2)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | about 2 years ago | (#40006297)

It's simple to understand really. You the human, performing {x} task will be replaced when it is economically advantageous to do so. If replacing you with someone living in a foreign land or even locally provides an economic advantage. You will. If replacing you with a robot, or other synthetic construct provides an economic advantage. You will.

If your goal is to not be replaced then it will be necessary for you the human performing {x} task to stay ahead of your competition with regards to ensuring that it provides an economic advantage over alternatives to employ you. This is the most valuable lesson anyone living in a capitalist society can receive yet it seldom is taught. Dear employee, you are not an entitled individual, you are a cog in a machine. If you do not fit you will be replaced.

wrong, photographers like pilots can't be replaced (1)

k6mfw (1182893) | about 2 years ago | (#40006435)

When you hire (or have a friend do it for free) a photographer, they concentrate on taking pictures of people and the event. Before they have to gather equipment and plan for the occasion (will extra lighting be required? are there specifics not to take pics?). Then after the event, job is not over as photog needs to distribute the images (how many of you have a friend who took all kinds of photos but nobody ever sees them?). Like pilots (which some can be replaced by Otto or some other software program) do more than just fly the plane. There is planning and organization that is done before each flight.

People that say photogs will be replaced by software are the ones selling the software! A good photog is extremely valuable. I don't care if you are doing an engineers week banquet, ballroom dance showcase, wedding, 75th anniversary of whatever,.... you gotta have a person assigned to do just one thing: Photography. Otherwise it won't get done. And as you all know, pics or it didn't happen.

Advising Caution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40006475)

Don't dismiss this too quickly. Only twenty years ago, my famous-in-the-right-circles photographer relative laughed at the notion that film or professional photographers would be replaced. Now a kid with a $300 camera and a bit of artistic sense can do any job he can, faster and, many times, better.

just tools... (1)

mbaGeek (1219224) | about 2 years ago | (#40006507)

what all of the software tools do is make the amatuer photographer better (my point and shoot photos look a lot better than they did 20 years ago), they don't threaten "professional photographers."

I'll point everyone at the excellent CNBC documentary on Pixar if you want to see the impact computers have had on the animation industry (just different tools for the artists, you still need artists). "Waking Sleeping Beauty" is also a good look at the traditional animation industry. compare and contrast :-)

anyway, a huge part of photography is what the photographer "sees" not the tools that they use, that fact isn't going to change anytime soon

yes, the profession has been changed (when did "photoshop" become a verb? Kodak declared bankruptcy) and is being changed by technology but photographers won't be "replaced" anytime soon.

Is any segment of the photography market safe? (1)

Anita Coney (648748) | about 2 years ago | (#40006557)

Weddings, school pictures, family pictures, journalism, mugshots, and nearly any other specific event that people want a visual record.

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