Remote Picture Editing will dramatically change the method of operation for news and sports photographers. It is no longer the photographer who transfers his pictures to the editing team, but rather the picture editor directly connects to the digital camera via the Internet, then chooses the most important pictures and downloads them. The large-scale use of Remote Editing at the Annual Meeting 2008 of the World Economy Forum was a great success for Swiss-Image.
am. In 2007 the development of Remote Editing made a great step forward. The American software developer Paul Nolan (www.idruna.com) presented "Idruna Remote Editing System" (IRES), a fast, practical and reliable system for remote data transfer. With it, Nolan opens up Remote Editing to a broad user circle, since virtually all big picture agencies around the world are quietly working on this technology. Another decisive development for the breakthrough of Remote Editing was also the market launch of the professional camera Canon EOS-1D/Ds Mark III, equipped with the small WLAN transmitter Canon WFT-E2 and the ultra-mobile computer (UMPC) OQO e2 HSDPA with integrated radio data transmission (WLAN/UMTS/HSDPA). Together, these technical innovations make completely new and extremely fast workflows possible for photographers.
IRES allows the picture editor to see via the Internet what the photographer is taking a picture of right at that moment - even if he is on the other side of the globe. When a picture meets the editor's criteria, he can download, edit or label it and add it to his picture service. The photographer only has to ensure that his computer and camera are working correctly and are connected to the Internet. And then he can just concentrate on photographing so that he does not miss any important scenes, as it is the case when he has to edit and send pictures during a soccer or tennis match.
Remote Editing saves time and money
IRES saves time and money. Speed is one of the strongest advantages of Remote Editing. The person receiving the pictures downloads only those pictures he really wants. Rejected pictures stay in the photographer's storage and do not encumber data transfer. Preview and download of the pictures happen with a delay of mere seconds after the shot. Remote Editing works everywhere the photographer has Internet access - wireless or via cable. Thanks to the increasing availability of radio data transmission nets such as Public WLAN, UMTS or HSDPA in Europe, the operational area is growing steadily. WLAN is already a standard at important sports, political and social events. Where these radio networks are missing, a satellite modem (RBGAN) can fill the gap.
Picture agencies can also save money with Remote Editing. The picture editor does not have to accompany his photographers to important events and edit the pictures on site. He can do it anywhere - in the office, in a hotel room or at home. The only requirement is that he and the photographer are connected to the Internet.
Remote Editing – many work with it, hardly anyone talks about it
Paul Nolan has lifted the veil of secrecy that big picture agencies had put on their own developments. The only information available on the Internet about Remote Editing Systems is that about Paneikon, which is Reuters' system. IRES is the worldwide first Remote Editing solution that is available on the market. And probably one of the best-performing ones as well. Yet the software costs as little as 199 US dollars including the use of the IRES server. The software also offers additional interesting features for active picture transfer. "Pocket Phojo" by the same developer was the model for the PC version. It is one of the most comprehensive and efficient picture programs for Pocket PCs on the market. Remote Editing, picture editing and transfer are possible with Pocket Phojo and a small Pocket PC like the HTC TyTN.
Swiss-Image – working with Wifi Photography since 2002 - has tested IRES and many imaginable workflows around Remote Editing. The combination of the Canon EOS 1D Mark III and WFT-E2 has massively broadened the possibilities for Remote Editing. The camera and the photographer's computer do not have to be connected via a USB cable. The camera sends the image data via wireless to the laptop or UMPC. The photographer gains more mobility and can expand his radius up to a couple hundred meters if he uses an Access Point.
Remote Editing: minimum configuration with a regular laptop
Of course Remote Editing works only for a photographer with the right equipment. The minimum requirements are a digital camera, a USB cable and a laptop with a wireless data card. The centerpiece is the IRES software or Pocket Phojo. Installation and configuration of IRES is relatively easy. Sports photographers who do not need to have huge mobility can work easily with a regular laptop. A laptop in a bag or on the floor at soccer, ice hockey, tennis or athletics events etc. is sufficient.
We have chosen more complex configurations that also meet the needs and requirements for mobile use. Our first choice is the Canon EOS-1 D Mark III with the compact WLAN transmitter WFT-E2, which is screwed onto the camera. As mini laptop we use an older Toshiba model, the Libretto U100. A radio data transmission card by Sierra Wireless takes care of the quick connection to the Internet. UMPCs announced by HTC (Shift) or OQO (e2x) with integrated UMTS/HSDPA data adapter will replace the Libretto in late fall 2007.
We chose the HTC Advantage, an efficient Pocket PC with integrated WLAN, UMTS and HSDPA, as a simple, resilient alternative. This equipment can easily be carried in special bags on the photo belt or in photo equipment bags.
The IRES server is the link between photographer and editor
And this is how Remote Editing works in detail: JPEG files (2-3MB) are transferred from the Canon EOS-1 D Mark III to the mini laptop via WLAN (ad-hoc connection). There, they are saved on the hard drive; the Mark III saves the data on an internal CF storage card for security. The Remote Editing Program then connects to the IRES server and the miniature views of all pictures (also known as thumbnails) are saved in a temporary picture folder where they are only cached for the time spent online.
The person receiving the pictures - the "Remote Editor" - can log in from anywhere in the world and retrieve the thumbnails. The IRES server is a bridge, so to speak, between the photographer's and the editor's computers. This is an elegant way of avoiding problems with firewalls and dynamic IP addresses that are common problems with public radio data transmission networks. When the editor has selected the best pictures, he can download the high-resolution image data from the photographer's hard drive via the IRES server or even directly from the storage card of the camera. If the camera is connected with the Pocket PC via a USB cable, the JPGs stay on the CF or SD card of the camera and are transferred from there.
At great events such as the Olympic Games or World Championships, photographers have access to fast LANs right at the scene. In this case, photographers' computers can be directly connected to the LAN cable. The time lag for Remote Editing gets even smaller. The photographer can expand his radius of movement to several hundred meters with an Access Point. Even two or more Canon EOS-1 D Mark IIIs can send their data to one laptop via WFT-E2.
New IRES option: the photographer makes a pre-selection on his camera display
Just recently, Paul Nolan has added an interesting option to IRES. The photographer selects which pictures the editor is to see. He uses short breaks in the event for the selection and takes a look at the 3-inch display of the Mark III. He tags the good pictures (write protection). IRES transmits only these pictures as thumbnails. Paul Nolan says "We give the photographer the feeling that he is again the master of his own pictures." Indeed, photographers have felt insecure during specific tests with Remote Editing. Many have grown accustomed to being both the photographer and the picture editor in one person and do not want to hand over the responsibility for their own pictures. After all, the editor could choose the wrong picture, couldn't he? "Actually, we simply take a step back with Remote Editing. Until the early 1990s, it was common practice for agencies that the photographer would hand his rolls of film over to a lab worker and then head for the next pub," remembers Andy Mettler, who had seen many photographers being reluctant to use digital cameras and carry out the editing on laptops. "We photographers should really be thankful to the editor for taking over the work with Remote Editing. After all, we should concentrate on taking photos. Picture editing on site and under time pressure means quite a bit of stress."
Another advantage of the new IRES option: the editor does not have to sort through an unnecessary mass of unimportant pictures, but rather makes his choice from the "Best-of selection". The speed of live picture transfer is, of course, lost, yet there is still a considerable time advantage.
swiss-image.ch has identified more than 30 different Remote Editing workflows with the Mark III and IRES. Since February 2007, the specialized Swiss picture agency uses Remote Editing on a regular basis. Mettler explains "Only the great companies of the branch will be able to use it to their full advantage, but small companies and the individual photographer will also profit from IRES. Everyone has to find his own ideal workflow."
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