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Still life / product / most stock photography all dead in 10 years

Discussion in 'Talking Pictures' started by EightBitTony, Jul 16, 2017.

  1. EightBitTony

    EightBitTony Well-Known Member

    Given the rate of advancement in computer graphics, all photography which comprises still life or product (including a lot of stock photography), will be cheaper, faster and easier to create in computer graphic form than with a camera within 10 years.

    Yes / no?

    (20 years? 30 years?)
  2. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Dear Tony,

    Probably. Or (as you say) maybe 20.


  3. daft_biker

    daft_biker Action Man!

    No. People will hopefully still want to see real products and not disclaimers saying something like "not actual product shown".

    Pics or it didn't happen as they say...photographs are more trustworthy than CGI.

    How about those CGI bits on some news channels? As good as real pictures? I don't think so.
  4. EightBitTony

    EightBitTony Well-Known Member

    I steered clear of reportage, documentary, etc. I think those applications of photography are going to be very difficult to police in the future though. We already have documentary photographers moving dead bodies to increase the impact of the shot.

    For product shots, I don't think people care if they're real or not. Low end products, people just want to recognise the thing when they shop. High end products are already pretty much manipulated to the nth degree by retouchers anyway. If you can sell a watch by covering it in fake water and putting it on a fake background, it'll be a small step to faking the whole watch.

    As long as the product when it arrives ends up looking like the photograph (CGI) you saw, people won't care.

    Anyway, the point about 'photographs are more trustworthy than CGI' only holds true while you can tell the difference. When CGI is indistinguishable how will people know what's real and what's not?

    That leads on to a much broader debate about video - we're headed towards a time when it won't be possible to tell if what you're watching was real, or computer generated, life is going to be very strange. That'll be further out than still images, but it's inevitable.
  5. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    Do you really think so? I'm not convinced. It's pretty quick and easy to photograph things. I am struggling to see how rendering a CGI version of anything could be faster, and I'll wager that there are far more people out there who are handy enough with a camera that they could charge people for product photography than there are people with the drawing skills required to knock up a computerised version of this week's salad special without it costing a whole lot more in terms of hours billed.
    PhotoEcosse likes this.
  6. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    I suppose, I could just about see it happening at the higher end of things. Posh cars for instance. Very high end watches. But I can't see small independent retailers having the budget to pay for the time it would take to populate their websites with CGI versions of everything they sell.

    I actually think film and video is more likely to go that way than still images. We're already half-way there. There's that advert for chocolate that features a CGI Audrey Hepburn and wotsisface - it's not entirely realistic yet but I don't think it will be long before you can't tell the difference.
  7. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    I know, I was absolutely shocked. Have not believed a war photographer since. ;)
  8. EightBitTony

    EightBitTony Well-Known Member

    That assumes it'll be people doing the work and being done in advance.

    Once you can generate an image of a piece of salad, you can generate an image of a piece of salad in any situation, from any angle, in any conditions you like. So you build an interface, so that when called with the parameters salad, under water, held by mermaid, and it's generated on the fly.

    Computing is getting cheaper and cheaper, most problems in computing don't stem from being able to describe how to solve the issue, they stem from being able to solve the issue in near real time - eventually, that will no longer be a problem. When I did AI at university, it was recognised that 'winning at chess' was a problem of not being able to calculate moves fast enough, but we've got computers that can do that now. There's no image that can't be generated on the fly - it's just a matter of resources.

    So I don't expect anyone to pay in advance for images, I expect them to subscribe to a service which generates them on the fly.

    Need a picture of a spilled wine glass? Instant.
    Need a picture of a spilled wine glass running over some cheese? Instant.
    Need a picture of absolutely anything you can conceive of? Instant, on the fly, near perfect, no physical props, no upfront cost, no human time beyond writing the code.
  9. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    I can certainly see something like you describe becoming much more mainstream but there are an awful lot of people trying to scratch out a living on ebay and etsy and the like, or other small businesses selling hand crafted items, the uniqueness of which is their selling point and I can't see those people using such a service. Would Christies or Bonhams be selling valuable antiques, the point of which is that they have rarity value and provenance, with images that don't actually represent the items? What about estate agents? Don't customers want to see the actual house? I know the precedent is almost there when developers are selling houses they haven't built yet but most houses are second hand and buyers want to see what they're looking at don't they? Or else just use clip art? I think that's the point - if you can imagine someone buying something on the strength of a clip art representation of it, then you probably can imagine it being advertised in your scenario. But I do'nt think that applies across the board.
  10. EightBitTony

    EightBitTony Well-Known Member

    You make some valid points, so product photography will become even more niche.

    However, let's not forget that 3D printing is going to be an interesting pressure on the concept of any 'hand crafted' items in the future as well. When we can 3D print using wood ...

    I think there's an upcoming clash of technology that is soon going to absolutely change the way we think about images and indeed, products.


    1. Etsy etc. - yep can see a need for photographs, except in cases where those products just become 3D printed anyway.
    2. Auction houses - yep valid.
    3. Estate agents - virtual reality 3D tours of the property will become the norm and photographs will vanish. You'll just put a bunch of automated video cameras on tripods in the property and a computer will do the rest.

    We're not talking clip art, we're talking computer generated images which are indistinguishable from the real object, in any setting you want, auto-generated in under a second from a set of keywords.

    Microstock can't survive that.
  11. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    Our clients would love that, especially the more linear thinking ones. The gap between a drawn concept and finished shot drives many of them mad. They want to see exactly what it looks like before they commission it. Few of them are in the business of real creation or originality.
  12. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    Yes, I understand that, but I was thinking in terms of grasping the notion of buying something on the basis of an image that isn't showing the actual thing. So I can see that you could already advertise a car using an advert that doesn't necessarily show the car. It might be because the brand is enough of a draw for some people already so a piece of clip art showing the logo might even now be enough to persuade some people to buy the newest version. Therefore it's the kind of product htat would really happily sit in your CGI scenario. Your next dinner service? Yep. An illustration that shows the pattern on it would probalby be enough. So that's the kind of thing that you could see using your CGI plan working for. I realise it's more than clip art, but i was pondering what things you might already get away with selling via a bit of clip art to assess what might work with CGI rendering.

    I also think if you look at the history of art and design, that such a thing will in all likelihood happen but that it will also create its own backlash. 3D printing is a case in point. Initially it was a bit of a novelty. It has gained some seriously impressive applications and I think we'll see that continue to develeop in lots of interesting ways. I hope so anyway. But I've already heard what can only be described as 'sneering' when appraising a 3D printed item. It's deemed 'too easy', and 'cheating' in the same way that some people regard digital photography as film's very much lesser cousin.
  13. AlanW

    AlanW Well-Known Member

    Yes, the Alexander Gardner (from Paisley) photograph is a well known example of battlefield manipulation, although the practice was not particularly frowned upon at the time! Of course, he could always have used the McCurry defence of being "a visual storyteller not a photojournalist". :)
  14. EightBitTony

    EightBitTony Well-Known Member

    You're still using the idea of just parts of the product to sell the whole. I mean, a CGI generated image which is indistinguishable from a photograph of the actual image, created instantly. Not just the pattern on the china, but a family using it in a real setting, with real food in it, which just happens to be totally computer generated at every level. Knowing it's not real won't prevent you seeing how it could fit into your life. The success will be in seeing when it arrives, that it looks like the generated image, the more times that's true, the more people will come to trust the images - which is no different from product photography now, except you won't need a product, or a photographer.

    I think the real step forward in 3D printing will be materials outside of the commonly used ones we have today. When we can 3D print in wood, ceramic (already doable) and other materials, it's going to challenge the very idea of crafting something. There'll always be craftspeople, people who make things for the joy of it, and their products will be even more premium than they are now, but mass production has already taken much of that away and the next step is to move that production into the street or house itself.

    Buying a pattern for a cup, and printing them every time you break one, will make 3 piece tea-sets a thing of the past :)
  15. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    Well no, I'm not. I was just using those as examples of things where even today we are willing to buy something without seeing 'the real thing' in whole or in part. I can see those sort of items translating to this CGI scenario quite well. I probably didn't explain it very well. (I seem to be suffering some kind of brain fog today! Struggling with sentences and trying to shorthand my thoughts! It doesn't always work!)

    I mean on one level what you're setting out is only really a logical extension of what we're already seeing. Some clothing retailers already show a model in a white t-shirt that's availalbe in ten other colours, all of which have been rendered in photoshop. Takeaway restaurants already have 'stock' images of dishes up on the light box which may or may not resemble the food that they're actaully selling. Enabling a service whereby many mass produced products can be rendered that quickly and cheaply would be attractive to many. But I think as already outlined, not all.

    As for 3D printing replacement teacups...I'm wondering if I couldn't just 3D print some tidier, less clumsy kids?
  16. EightBitTony

    EightBitTony Well-Known Member

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