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Combined tethered and card shooting
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Author Topic: Combined tethered and card shooting  (Read 22378 times)
andris
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« on: January 27, 2008, 02:38:31 PM »

This is currently one of my biggest problems on set.  If anyone has suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

The photographer I digital tech for shoots lifestyle advertising photography with a Canon 1Ds MKII.  She shoots a lot of kids, and once she starts getting what she wants from them, the frames start coming fast and furious.  So fast, in fact, that we have to have a second body untethered as a backup when she runs into the 11 frame raw buffer limit.  When the tethered camera pauses to buffer, she grabs the untethered body from the assistant and keeps shooting.

This causes me a few big problems:


1)  To view the card images in C1P, I have to wait for it to build the preview cache.  When shooting tethered, preview images are built almost immediately because the software keeps up with the capture rate.  Throwing in 100+ images from a card at once, though, takes time and keeps me from doing other things I need to be doing with the C1P software.

2)  Ideally, images from the cards should fit into the same chronologically numbered naming convention as the tethered images.  However, I don't always get the cards until there's a break in shooting.  If the card images are going to be inserted into the tethered naming convention in time order, all tethered images shot after the card images have to be renamed.  Renaming images like this makes C1P have to build preview cache images not only for the new card images, but also for the renamed images it had already cached.  This is a big time/processing power suck I can't afford.

Neither one of these problems are too bad if we aren't delivering jpg proofs to the client immediately at the end of the shoot.  In this case, I stick all the card images in a separate folder and do all the renaming back at the studio.  However, once the client has proof jpgs I can't really rename.  They need to make their selects based on the jpg filenames they have, and if I've renamed the raws since giving them the proofs...I have a problem.  I guess I could rely on embedding the original filename in the renamed raws...but if something were to go wrong with that process, I'd end up having to visually search for the selects among the raws...something obviously to be avoided at all costs.

We have a Canon 1Ds MKIII on order.  I'm hoping its support of the faster UDMA flash cards will allow it to dump its 12 frame raw buffer to card faster, allowing us to avoid this pesky second body problem.  In the meantime...anyone have any workflow suggestions?

Thanks,

Andris
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Bruce Van Inwegen
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« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2008, 09:30:23 AM »

Neither one of these problems are too bad if we aren't delivering jpg proofs to the client immediately at the end of the shoot. 

IMHO this is your biggest challenge, and it isn’t a technical workflow issue as much as it is a professional practice issue.  Allowing a client to make decisions about the work before it is ready for those decisions to be made is a questionable professional practice.

It might be time to talk to the artist and suggest that this practice is making the workflow unmanageable.  If she understands that the practice could end up costing her in terms of lost images/productivity, then she might consider holding off on proof delivery until the job is properly prepared for it.  If this can't be accomplished before the client must depart, so be it. It's is your professional responsibility as a digital tech to help her understand this possibility.

A client would be unreasonable to demand that E-6 delivery must be less than 90 minutes dry to dry, why should there be no equivalent in the digital age?

As a side note, have you considered using a different software utility to d/l and verify the contents of the cards in parallel to what you are doing in C1P with the tethered device(s)?  It might speed up the process a bit if you can multi-task using an automated card d/l that doesn’t tie up C1P.

An even better solution might be to pull the tether completely when these sort of situations arise and swap carded cameras back and forth until the artist’s passionate attention passes. No cable problems, and no waiting.  Downloading multi-camera/card sets and renumbering chronologically is a relatively simple process.  In any event, these cases of  hyper-creativity do require buffering at some point given the current state of the technology.

I listen to my assistants when they tell me they can’t keep up with my flow.  It isn’t always easy to hear, but when they are damn fine assistants, their opinion matters and we all end up looking better in the long run.

I’ve never believed that a person should always do everything that they can.
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andris
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« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2008, 07:21:03 PM »

Hi Bruce, thanks for the input.

You raise an excellent point that it's not ideal for the client to be receiving the images before we've taken them back to the studio and worked on them a bit  It does seem, though that clients are scheduling shoots closer and closer to deadlines and relying on the speed of digital turnaround.  I worry that if we say we won't deliver digital proofs immediately following the shoot, clients will start looking elsewhere for a photographer/tech who can provide what they're asking for.  Pulling the tether is less than ideal with a gaggle of 4+ client representatives clustered behind me looking at the images as they come in.  When they see pretty pictures coming in, they stay quiet at least. Smiley


I've since worked out a system for dealing with the cards that's smoothing out my workflow a bit.  I set up the PhaseOne media downloader to dump the cards to the hard drive, but I leave the 'generate preview images' option unchecked.  I configure the downloader to dump the images to a folder called 'cards' outside of the tethered capture session folder.  I then open the 'cards' folder as a collection in C1P.  Every time I insert a card, the media downloader prompts me to download it with a single click.  The key, though, is that no previews are built...since we're running a RAID 5, a simple background copy operation doesn't put any extra strain on the system and tethered capture continues as I download. 

Once there's a break in shooting, I view the 'cards' collection and click the 'refresh current collection' button.  This tells C1P to look for new files and build the previews.  As I have time, I move the images from the 'cards' folder to the appropriate tethered capture sessions, and rename as appropriate.

Solving one problem, as usual, has revealed another.  Now that I'm getting close to having the files to their final named state right on set...I realize that C1P's auto naming options don't seem to easily support Peter's recommended naming practice.

Throughout a day of shooting, I open new sessions for each new shot. I call the capture sessions 'shot01,' 'shot02,' etc.  I then paste my desired <lastname>_YYYYMMDD_<jobnumber>_ filename prefix into C1P's naming box.  Every time I open a new session, though, C1P restarts its numbering at 0.  This gives me filename collisions between each shot folder (i.e. Name_20080209_SR0001_0001.CR2 would be the first frame of each shot.)  I can't solve this by using the 'use camera numbering' option, since I have the multi-camera situation.

I realize I could use the manual offset to start numbering shot 2 files where the numbering from shot 1 left off...but doing this for a full day of 10+ shots is just too time consuming.  This is one of the many annoyances of C1P that's making me consider moving to Lightroom for tethered capture.  We have some smaller shoots coming up, and hopefully I'll be able to do some testing.

Thanks again,

Andris
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Bruce Van Inwegen
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« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2008, 07:57:19 AM »

Hi Again, Andris,

I don’t use C1P so I need to ask:  Is there no setting that will allow you to use continuous numbering that can be set and left alone, much like a camera does?

I worry that if we say we won't deliver digital proofs immediately following the shoot, clients will start looking elsewhere for a photographer/tech who can provide what they're asking for. 

Whenever I hear these words or some variation on them it makes me chuckle. Experience and confidence have shown me that what you describe works both ways.  Advertising runs on lies and fear and it is easy to find one’s self consumed by that mind-set, but it isn’t at all necessary. 

Nobody I know died from saying “no? to a bad business deal.  It never ceases to amaze me just how much respect can be cultivated by learning how and why to say it.

Bruce
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andris
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« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2008, 11:52:45 AM »

Hi Bruce,

I don’t use C1P so I need to ask:  Is there no setting that will allow you to use continuous numbering that can be set and left alone, much like a camera does?

I use Capture One Pro on a weekly basis, and I'm not finding a feature to do this.  That's pretty much why I was posting in the forum...to find out if someone who is more familiar with the software than I am knows something that I don't. Smiley

I completely agree that with the fast pace digital allows it's possible to hurry too much and compromise your product.  What I'm after is the best of both worlds: speed and quality.  With the multi-core processors, improving software, and faster cameras that are available today, a carefully refined workflow should make this possible. 

Certainly no one had died from saying 'no,' but as digital tech shops offer more and faster delivery options, saying 'no' could certainly get you left in the dust.

Thanks,

Andris
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Bruce Van Inwegen
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« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2008, 06:32:48 AM »

...I've since worked out a system for dealing with the cards that's smoothing out my workflow a bit.  I set up the PhaseOne media downloader to dump the cards to the hard drive, but I leave the 'generate preview images' option unchecked.  I configure the downloader to dump the images to a folder called 'cards' outside of the tethered capture session folder.  I then open the 'cards' folder as a collection in C1P...

...Solving one problem, as usual, has revealed another.  Now that I'm getting close to having the files to their final named state right on set...I realize that C1P's auto naming options don't seem to easily support Peter's recommended naming practice....


OK, here's a wild thought.  What if you used the simple Canon EOS utility to handle the tethered camera and point it at a destination folder much like you are doing with the cards?  The Utilty has the option to set a numbering sequence for the downloaded files and it will run continuously until it is re-set. 

In other words, take C1P out of its role in controling the download between camera and computer and leave it as strictly a management and production tool after the files land at their destination.
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andris
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« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2008, 09:07:12 AM »

Hi Bruce,

Definitely a good thought, and probably the direction I'm going to have to go in anyway since using Lightroom for tethered capture requires the use of an external autodownloader like the EOS utility.

I think I'll still have to finesse it a bit, though.  Consider the following series of events:

1)  We shoot shot 1, consisting of 500 exposures.  During the course of the shot, 40 images go to card on the second body as the first body buffers.

2)  We move on to shot 2, and start shooting.  Numbering starts at 201.

3)  I start downloading the 40 card images from shot 1. 

4)  Now, if I want to squeeze them into the sequential numbering scheme where they should be (between 200 and 201), I have to rename the images from shot 2 to make room.

Obviously, this problem only exists if I don't manage to download the card images from shot 1 (step 3 above) before starting to shoot on shot 2 (step 2 above).  Sometimes I'm fast enough, but sometimes between moving the capture rig to the new location and helping out the photo assistants with the lighting it's just not possible. 

The only easy way around this that I can see is to include shot number information in the filename.  I'm not happy with my filenames getting longer, but if I'm going to leave room to squeeze in the card images after the fact it seems like the only way.

Thanks again for hashing through this with me Bruce,

Andris
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Bruce Van Inwegen
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« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2008, 11:38:13 AM »

What it really seems to boil down to is that if you are going to have more than one camera’s input on a particular session, and you need the files to line up in sequence, then a re-naming protocol has to be established and set as a policy if you don’t want to run the risk of loss or confusion down the road. 

I re-read your original post and it seems you may have a protocol already in place that works if you take the time to implement it.  The fly in the ointment seems to be the conflicting policy of delivering proofs to the client at the end of the shoot before the files have been renamed.  I may be wrong, but I don’t think that shifting to Lighroom is going to affect this conflict very much.  You might burn a whole lot of time and find yourself right back where you started.

It would be important to have a dialog with your photographer to determine if the current workflow policies are working in an integral manner with an eye toward how the entire production is affected both inside and out. 

Because digital capture is still in an adolescent stage, there will be plenty of valid changes to workflow policy yet to come.  I would tend to question a decision to make arbitrary and risky exceptions to sound policy that would serve only to fuel an impatience that puts the work at risk.  If you don’t choose to establish reasonable limits, before you know it that  will have become your policy.

You might be pleasantly surprised at the response when people are told that certain professional policies are put in place to protect everyone’s interests in the work, and that exceptions to those policies are possible but will incur additional risk and additional cost.

As a side note…

Good digital techs here get almost double the rate of a traditional assistant.  I wouldn’t expect them to be moving/setting up lighting if there are digital tasks that haven’t been completed.   Wink


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andris
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« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2008, 02:09:34 PM »

You might be pleasantly surprised at the response when people are told that certain professional policies are put in place to protect everyone’s interests in the work, and that exceptions to those policies are possible but will incur additional risk and additional cost.

If only all photographers were as reasonable as this.  I work for a photographer who understands very little about the digital world and doesn't want to learn.  She takes the pictures and we do the rest.  Most new 'policies' are seen as 'needless' complication.  I have to find the happy medium between what I'm able to implement and what her expectations (reasonable or otherwise) of the system are.

Andris
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Bruce Van Inwegen
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« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2008, 03:28:18 PM »

I can be the psychotic artist as well as anyone, but at least I've made an effort to understand the technology.  Shocked

Your specific need has struck a chord with me since I'm working on a way to migrate my legacy stuff based on old naming conventions spawned in the film era into Peter's bucket system.  There are some parallels with what you've been describing, but without the time constraints.

I've got a couple ideas I'm working out.  Back at you when I've got a clue.

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