Why are video cameras used for still shots by news channels (and not digital cameras)?
February 16, 2011 4:29 AM   Subscribe

Why are video cameras used for still shots by news channels (and not digital cameras)?

Also, why is it that the brain can differentiate between a photo of an object and a video feed of the nonmoving object?

This ideas was sparked when I was in a art gallery in NYC and a camera crew was going around with a video camera on a tripod and setting up the camera in front of various exhibits and just letting the camera sit there and record. Why not just snap a shot with a digital camera?
posted by ascetic to Technology (10 answers total)
WAG: Because it's a completely different set of equipment that they have to buy and maintain and carry around.
posted by mollymayhem at 4:49 AM on February 16, 2011

It's really hard to say what was going on there, without 1) knowing a bit more about their set up, and 2) asking them what they're doing.

There could be any number of excellent reasons for taking a video of a non-moving object. Maybe they're interested in the effects of changing natural light. Maybe they're shooting people looking at the art. Maybe they're doing some kind of video montage. Maybe someone's going to use the video as the basis for rotoscoping. Who knows?

As to how the brain differentiates between video of non-moving objects and stills, some of that has to do with the fact that video is traditionally shot in lower resolution formats, though these days that's not necessarily the case. A full HD video of a stationary object can be almost indistinguishable from a still of the same object provided the lighting is static and the camera doesn't move. But in lower quality video the differences are pretty noticeable.
posted by valkyryn at 5:00 AM on February 16, 2011

As well as the gear issues, i also doesn't require different processing. You can just drop it right in there in the timeline. It's a format the editor is used to, it fits in their workflow and it's uncomplicated.
posted by Magnakai at 5:07 AM on February 16, 2011

Based on a vague understanding of this stuff, one thought in the case of art is that two different cameras might handle the colors differently; so if they're going to be filming a reporter or members of the public standing in front of one of the artworks and speaking, but anticipating that an editor will want to cut back and forth between reporter / interview shots and an unobstructed view of the work being discussed, maybe they're saving the editor a bunch of color-correcting work? Just another wild-assed guess, really.
posted by XMLicious at 5:11 AM on February 16, 2011

posted by briank at 6:27 AM on February 16, 2011

Like Magnakai said, using two different formats doesn't really make your life any easier, especially if you have a workflow that can already deal with uncompressed video files just fine.
posted by smackfu at 6:42 AM on February 16, 2011

With regard to video of a still object, I'm with valkyryn, compression artefacts / video noise used to allow one to judge it was a video of a still object. Not so obvious these days with HD and higher bandwidth recordings.
posted by gallagho at 7:20 AM on February 16, 2011

briank has it right. It's B-roll. It's a video crew, they shoot video, they edit video. There would be no reason to try and throw stills in there too.
posted by WickedPissah at 7:49 AM on February 16, 2011

posted by KokuRyu at 7:52 AM on February 16, 2011

I shoot video and still photos professionally. The workflow is the biggest thing (as mentioned, only carrying 1 set of equipment, only keeping up with 1 file type during editing)
But as you have noticed there is a difference with most equipment (even high end HD) between still and video, some of it has to do with color temperature, a lot of it has to do with optics; still lenses are generally of a much higher quality in a comparable price range than video lenses (so if you have someone who can afford class X of equipment their still lens would be better than their video lens). Also light moves, even in still images, there are little shifts in light that are usually visible on video.
posted by dadici at 11:17 AM on February 16, 2011

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