Vancouver Olympics, day 15: Creating Fast Workflows

Sami Kero of HS getting stopped as he had forgotten his photo-sleeve under his jacket...

Time is of the essence, when working in a timezone which is  ten hours behind your own. In practise this means that if I want to make tomorrows paper, all my images have to be in by 14.oo at the latest local time. When competitions end about that time over here, you are in a hurry – in a big hurry.

You make your selection of the images in your head as you run to to the press center, load the card into the computer, select,  quickly edit, caption and transmit. And too often you notice that they did not wait for your image…

And the last thing you want is the security stopping you for any reason…

There are a couple of tricks you can do speed up this process a bit – or should I say to optimize the workflow. Starting from hardware: using fast cards and a firewire-800 cardreader. Using a fast photo-browser, ie. not going thru Lightroom, Aperture or Bridge, but using Photomechanic.  I do use all of these programs, but when I need speed, PM is the only real option.

In addition, for sportsphotography, PM comes with a special bonus: it utilizes a feature called “code replacement”: you create a list of participants of a certain event  (like:  bib-name-nationality) and all you have to do when writing a caption is to enter the bib-number and you have the correct name in the caption field.

What is more:  they offer these code-replacement files here as a complimentary service, you can download them from the net before the competitions. Never seen it done before, but what a nice service.

A very standard m.o.  in sports photography is using wireless transmitter from the camera to the computer.  You can set your computer so that the incoming image  transmitted from the camera gets automatically redirected to your client. But the downside of this is that you have to drag the computer with you and for instance if it is pissing with rain, that is not the best possible option.

Wireless interface "box" to the net

But there is another solution, which for instance HS (our biggest daily) has been using here. You use a “box” – here provided by Bell – which creates a WiFi -connection to your cameras WiFi-transmitter and then another connection thru HSDPA/3G/Edge to your local network and the internet. Sort of “dummy” pocket size computer or an interface between the cam and net.

I talked with Sami Kero of Helsingin Sanomat (a very good photographer and the nicest guy) and he said that after the initial set up problems he has been using it quite succesfully.  If I understand correctly, the same piece of hardware is available also back home in Finland, although I had not seen it in action before coming here.

Very slick – but I am reluctant to buy yet another piece of electronics – which will be obsolete in two years time. Or which is limited to certain geographic region. The question I am asking myself  is why cannot an iPhone be used for this? As a piece of hardware, it has all the necessary technology, all you need to do is to create an app which does this. Anybody…?

Canon WFT2 transmitter with Olympic approval sticker

When dealing with radiofrequencies, there are special rules in the Olympics. All the wireless transmitters or remote-controllers must be approved and have a sticker accordingly.

Before arriving here I thought that the different frequencies in North America and Europe would pose a problem, but that is not the case: both systems are allowed and I have been using my multimaxes with no problems – apart from one of them breaking down in mid-action…

But,  when creating a workflow directly from the camera to the printed page or the web, you do need an proficient editor  in the receiving end.

I personally work presently with multiple clients – as a one-man-show – and I do not have that luxury, so I still stick my CD-card into the computer and edit myself. Yes, I am fast, but it still takes a minute or two.

There are others who work in teams and it is sometimes pretty amazing to see how they do it. For instance, take Reuters. They have a 26 photographers over here. One of them told me that when he sticks his card into  the computer, it automatically loads all his images to his server over here. He has an editor in Warsaw, who looks into the thumbnails automatically delivered  to him.  This editor chooses an image and  requests a crop from the server. He quickly edits it and transmits if further, this time to Shanghai, where another person captions it and puts in on the wire.  Images of each athelete, each venue… imagine the amount of bits travelling across the world… within minutes, while the action is still on…

And then I get the phonecall: “Getty, AP and Reuters already have their images… what’s taking so long with you?”

But no complaints, I like working the way I do. And I am also proud of myself: I have not blown my fuse one single time on the phone when I have gotten a call like this.  Maybe I am mellowing down  as I am getting older…?

Setting up remotes under the slip of the large hill.

5 Comments

  1. Stas Moshkov
    February 23, 2010

    Hei Kari, how are Y? Interesting information, thanks. Good luck ;)

    Reply
  2. kkuukka
    February 24, 2010

    Thanks Stas – five more days…. I’m ready to go home. First alpine (women’s GS) for me today. Like one famous musician back home said: “You know, the problem is that I have this skin type which does not get tanned in the pissing rain…”

    regards,

    k

    Reply
  3. Mika Ranta
    March 9, 2010

    Moi Kari

    Hienoa lukea olympiakokemuksiasi!

    Luulisin, että WFT toimii iPhonen kanssa, mutta ei niin nopeasti kuin Mifi. HSUPA ei tietääkseni ole tuettu iPhonessa eikä ainakaan Soneran verkossa. HSUPA on ylöspäin teoreettisesti 2 Mbit/s vs. UMTS 384 kbit/s. Pidän myös siitä, että Mifi on erillinen laite. Vaikka puhelimet nykyään tekevät kaikkea, niin ne eivät ole kovin luotettavia kaiken tekemisessä yhtä aikaa. Ja kun on kiire, niin yleensä tarvitset myös puhelinta.

    Canon WFT on kiva, mutta vajaa laite. Se tarvitsee infrastructure -tyylisen verkon, adhoc ei riitä, vaikka Canon niin väittääkin. Tästä syystä Joikuspot Symbian-alustalla ei riitä yhteyden luomiseksi. Nikonin vastaava lähetin ymmärtää adhoc-verkkoja, joten Nikonin käyttäjät ovat voineet nauttia suoraan kameraan lähettämisestä jo kolme vuotta. WFT ei myöskään pysty liittymään verkkoon, jossa on määritetty aloitussivu. Tästä syystä useimmat julkiset Wifit eivät käy.

    Kaikkea hyvää,

    t. mika

    Reply
    • kkuukka
      March 9, 2010

      Moro Mika –

      ja kiitos pitkästä ja hyödyllisestä vastauksestasi – tai oikeastaan kai reagoinnista kirjoittamaani “anybody…?”

      Jep, selvittelin itse tuota asiaa jo jonkin verran – löysin Novatellin MiFin. Samoin selvitin, että iPhone voidaan tähän toki valjastaa, mutta vaatii vehkeen hakkerointia – joka sinänsä on ihan simppeli juttu, mutta laitteen takuu menee saman tien.

      Ja olen samaa mieltä, dedikoidut työkalut ovat ainoa oikea ratkaisu – vaikka puhelimella pystyy tekemään kaiken mahdollisen, se ei silti ole järkevää: joku just soittaa tai akku kuluu loppuun tms. Puhelimen “extra” ominaisuudet voivat olla back-uppi, ei varsinainen työkalu.

      Sopinee, että jatkan tarinointia aiheesta Lontoon murteella tässä lähipäivinä omassa uudessa postauksessa. Homma kiinnostaa varmasti monia, mutta suurin osa lukijoista katsoo aina vain uusimman jutun. Viittaan tähän kommentiisi silloin.

      t

      kari

      Oh – and the same in English: will continue this – based on Mika’s very informative comment – in English in couple of days.

      Reply
  4. Going Totally Wireless with Canon 1D Mk4 « Kari Kuukka Photography – a blog
    April 5, 2010

    […] to the server. See my earlier post on details – and a big thanks to Mika Ranta of HS for commenting that post – and congrats to him on the best news image of the […]

    Reply

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