Using a RAW+JPG Workflow

by James Duncan Davidson

This December, I'm taking some time to work on a few fundamentals before heading into a busy schedule of event shooting next year. One of the things I'm working on is a way to let other people "tap" into the stream of photographs I'm shooting in a form that they can use. I've been hesitant to do this for a while as I've always wanted to put my best foot forward. But, at the Web 2.0 Summit, various news outlets were wanting images now and it simply took too long to get them usable images with a pure RAW workflow. To give you an idea of the problem, the Web 2.0 Summit is a single track conference where there is always something going on. Every speaker is important to capture. And there were lots of "must get" shots around the conference. It was hard enough being in three places at once to shoot, not to mention download cards, edit, and upload selects.

As good as Aperture is, it's not fast enough to handle an event like this as a single shooter. Editing 12.8 megapixel images on a MacBook Pro still takes time, up to a few seconds a pop to do the decode. And exporting JPGs of several hundred images takes even more time. Of course, you can quite honestly question my sanity for trying to do an event like this as a single shooter, and you'd have a point. Next year, I'll be looking at bringing assistants and maybe even second shooters to the job. But, that doesn't change the fact there are some outlets who will want to have fast—almost realtime—access to the images being shot. And the my client will want me to enable that access. On the other hand, there's no way I'm not using a RAW based workflow to process my work, expecially to hand off final images to the client for later use.

13 Comments

Superf88
2006-12-11 06:38:28
Just came across handy script for this process on laforetvisuals.com, I believe -- this sounds like da future, eventually with a team of editors editing/uploading real-time images in Bangalore or Ho Chi Minh City!
Micah
2006-12-11 06:51:51
If you have WiFi access at your event and the Canon or nikon WiFi kit, you could send selects to an FTP as you shot them. These could either go to a local computer with an editor processing the images and sending to your clients. Or they could go direct to a clients FTP. I imagine you could also try and FTP them to a site like Photoshelter or Digital Railroad.


In my experience, however, it pays to put your best foot forward. So the editor/assistant method might be a better bet.

ian
2006-12-11 09:49:28
I;ve been doing this for awhileWith mixed results. Sending the low rez Jpegs to Aperture on a Laptop while importing the RAWS to the Aperture on the desktop. The tethered script can not keep up with the stream of Jpegs and takes too long to run for each image. Then several images are missed.


I have tried an automator folder action that imports all the images from the folder but that takes too long as well, and images are once again missed.


This is an area that needs work with Aperture. Some clients compalined and now they view by constantly refreshing a folder view in Bibble! Granted clients can't seem to get them fast enough no matter what workflow!

Bernt
2006-12-11 09:52:34
Hi, I wonder about your rsync script... Could you tell more about it?


Best

James Duncan Davidson
2006-12-11 10:05:00
Superf88: Thanks for the tip!


Micah: I've thought about doing the WiFi thing. The tech conferences I shoot already have WiFi, but for the most part it's not a reliable network. It works _most_ of the time, but not well enough to depend on.


I also should be clear that the "other people" I mentioned above would typically be editors of some kind--either working with me so that they can kick out the obvious rejects, or working for a news agency who needs ultra-timely access to the photographs and who are used to seeing the direct stream of pictures and know that only 10% of the images snapped are even worth starting to look at. It's actually not really intended to go direct to the final client.


That said, I am still a bit worried about how it's all going to work out. Some clients want everything you shoot. Others want a very tight edit. In the end, I really need to start using an assistant on site.


ian: Yah. I'm not crazy about the tethered script at this point. That's why I'm approaching this as using my own script that works against the raw file system. That way my shooting workflow is still: 1) shoot a card or three; 2) download the cards using Aperture; 3) repeat.

James Duncan Davidson
2006-12-11 10:13:09
Bernt: Right now, it's really simple (and yes, I'm a command line junkie, so there's going to be nothing pretty about this):


$ rsync -avz --exclude=.DS_Store --exclude=.CR2 /Volumes/Photos/2006/12/11 /Volumes/Remote/2006/12/11


That will pull all the non-RAW files out and copy them to another folder, or even a remote server. It's really simple so far, and thats intentional.


In the next few days, I'll expand on it a bit to do a little sips processing and index.html generation. Nothing too fancy. And then I'll probably expand it to push the resulting files off to a remote server. I eventually might get Automator involved so that I can query a specific project's image files instead of just leaning on the date as a key.


We'll see. It's very early in this process. :)

Daniel Mendez
2006-12-11 10:34:43
Please entertain my silly question, if you are sending images to the news outlets, are you then relying on them to process your images (color correction, crop,etc)?


Obviously you only want to rsync the selects, so how is your process different to exporting some images (as JPG) you select out to the ftp folder _after_ you have gone through the selection and maybe a quick WB correction?

Daniel Mendez
2006-12-11 10:40:25
I was interrupted while I was writing my comment below and I see that you addressed: "are you then relying on them to process your images (color correction, crop,etc)?"
with your comment:
"ither working with me so that they can kick out the obvious rejects, or working for a news agency who needs ultra-timely access to the photographs and who are used to seeing the direct stream of pictures and know that only 10% of the images snapped are even worth starting to look at."


Maybe that should be updated in the article for clarification.. ?
thanks.

Micah
2006-12-11 10:52:20
As a follow up to the question about the Tethered script.. i'm not sure which script you are talking about here, but if it has to do with the article on Tethered shooting using Folder Actions and Automator, you might try adding this action to your workflow. http://www.automator.us/downloads.html#1030


I haven't tried it myself as of yet, but it may keep the script form missing files. I know this was a problem when I was tyring to write an automator script to send files out over FTP via Transmit. Some files would get looked over because Automator kpet running even though Aperture had not yet caught up.


James: If you do have an assistant on site they could easily do the work of running to you on the floor and grabbing a card, and then getting back to the computer quickly and doing the editing job. I've actually been this guy on a number of ocasions. In fact a few times, just the runner, handing back and forth between photog and editor.


Laforets article also has osme interesting methods for automating the process of importing the car. Plug in the card, Aperture and Automator do the rest with the help of the Separate Jpegs action and Transmit.


As a Photojournalist who rarely has an assistant, I have solved the probelm by simply carying my laptop with me and transmitting from the floor via a Verizon type braodband card. I know they are expensive, but they work great. I have sent pictures during halftime from beneath the basket at a Wizards game and it worked great! But it depends on the scenerio.

James Duncan Davidson
2006-12-11 11:32:36
Daniel: I've reworked a bit of the blog post to address the fact that the JPG's wouldn't be for global access, but would be going to other editors--either working with me or working for news outlets. And yes, if a news outlet wants real-time access, then they're going to be responsible for color correction, cropping, and the like. That's the price they'll have to pay to be hooked in at this kind of level.


The problem with exporting out selects as JPG is that when I'm in an all day event shooting like mad, it still takes too much time to edit out the selects out of a thousand shots and upload. Just reviewing hundreds of images takes time in Aperture, even as fast as it is. On a MacBook Pro flipping through in full screen, the program is still doing a RAW decode for each image, slowing things down. There's not a "Only review JPG preview" mode. Also, when you export out the images as JPG, there's the render to JPG time from RAW.


Fast isn't fast enough. :) And, there's a value to getting more eyeballs, even if they are working for somebody else, onto the problem. If it means that pictures from a conference can hit the news outlets faster, then that's a good thing.


At the same time, I don't want to compromise my ability to later provide the best imagry possible from RAW, say in the evening or in the days after an event. Admittedly, this is a tough problem.


Micah: I've been looking at getting an EVDO card for uploading in situtations where I don't have connectivity. It'd be just the trick in a lot of situtations. Thanks for the additional links on the tether scripts! :)

Micah
2006-12-11 11:53:25
James,
Is there an EVDO card for the MacBook Pro yet? I used to have one for my Powerbook but it requires a PCMCIA slot, which the MacBook Pros don't have. I did a quick search on Google and found a company which is making adapters to go from Express to PCMCIA, but not sure if it will work with the Mac.


The EVDO card I had was on the Verizon network. It was amazing. I used it while on the DC subway, underground. I also used as I drove cross country. The passenger could work online while we drove down the interstate.

Micah
2006-12-11 11:54:34
Sorry, forgot the link http://www.duel-systems.com/products/adapters.aspx
James Duncan Davidson
2006-12-11 12:08:44
Micah: Yes, Verizon has an EVDO ExpressCard/34 out. Several people I know have it and are quite pleased with it. I don't think Sprint yet has their EVDO ExpressCard/34 card out, however. So, for them, the adapter that you provided a link for would probably work nicely.