The A7S Visits Boney Island
Boney Island visionary creator Rick Polizzi doesn’t like to be scared. Neither do his two daughters. In his own words, “I’m basically a chicken and I have raised two chickens.” Unfortunately, when it came to Halloween entertainment for children in the Los Angeles area back in 1997 there were pretty slim pickings that didn’t scare.
So being the producer for his children he has been for mine (Rick Polozzi in his professional life is also the Producer of The Simpsons) Rick decided to construct one of his own. As I understand it, what originally started out as a treehouse project with his daughters over a long work break, ended up as a four story treehouse and the beginnings of what has several years and two incarnations later become Boney Island.
Boney Island provided a perfect location to test extreme lighting conditions, high ISO capability, and to experiment with some new LUT editing settings I have been playing around with. It was a beautiful fall evening here in Studio City, so my daughter and I walked over to Boney Island to see for ourselves what all of the fuss is about. It was a pleasure all the way around, from the walk itself, the great company of a grown daughter sharing it, a near perfect photographic subject, and the wonderful Sony A7S doing our low light thing.
I am primarily a still photographer. Or that is how I would have described myself last year at this time. Today, I am something else, something not quite fully emerged or defined, but something more. For lack of a better term, a hybrid photographer. I combine audio, still photographs, video, music, written words, background sounds and whatever other elements necessary to tell compelling and interesting stories. Stories like this one your reading right now. Stories with a perspective that inform, educate and entertain.
I’ve only had my A7S for about six weeks now, so still getting familiar with all of the complex control functions and settings. There are a lot of them. Downloading using the included Sony provided PlayMemories Home consumer grade software, I noticed that there was a jpg still frame created by the A7S with each video capture. Interestingly, it is a 1280×720 pixel 16:9 format 8 bit jpg that appears to be the first complete frame of the video.
I can not however, find any use Sony has made of this jpg, or what it’s purpose is to begin with. It doesn’t take up much, but it does use some SD card space. Likely Sony intends this jpg for a future use as a video header image, but why the 720P resolution escapes me. Why not 1080P, or even 4k since the A7S is also capable of that? I’m going to ask my friends at Sony if they can shed some light on the reason for this jpg to exist, but after examining a few of them I am glad they do.
Each of these frames gives me a fixed reference point of where I was with the camera and settings when I started shooting. Reviewing these images in a slideshow, I can certainly see my still photography roots shining strong and predominate. I frame like a still photographer. I see like a still photographer noticing the background details. I watch the light, but I rack focus rarely. I should do more of that, the racking focus bit. This is my surrender, my concession to becoming a better videographer, while proudly wearing the stripes I have earned over the years as a still shooter. That first frame must look pretty.
As a hybrid storyteller, this automatic jpg creation the A7S provides is valuable. Most of my work ends up here online, for you and my other readers to see or in a client’s online presentation. My thinking is 720P resolution (1280 x 720 pixels) is high enough resolution for even the latest Retina displays to show an excellent quality still photograph. But judge for yourselves and let me know what you think. All of the still photos on this page are the jogs created from the clips that are edited down into the opening movie above. Please share your thoughts with me in the comments below!
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STORY UPDATE: October 9, 2015. Boney Island is in a total state of construction again right now for this year! Out of deference to the neighbors, this year’s hours will be Saturday & Sunday, October 17th & 18th, 6:00PM – 10:00PM, and again Wednesday, October 21st – Friday, October 31st. 6:00PM – 9:00PM Sunday thru Thursday, and 6:00 PM – 10:00 PM Friday and Saturday. Have fun, and bring the kids!