In 2013, Carl Frey and Michael Osborne of Oxford’s Program on the Impacts of Future Technology, published an analysis of over 700 different jobs and concluded that almost half could be done by a computer in the future. Of those jobs, photographers were actually viewed as less likely to be computerizable than, say, mechanical door repairers.
But photographers shouldn’t pop the champagne just yet.
The company StyleShoots is releasing a robotic photo studio aimed at automating much of the work of still photographers and filmmakers working in the fashion industry.
Dubbed, StyleShoots Live, the studio-cum-photo booth combines traditional photographic gear with advanced artificial intelligence algorithms. With the Live in place, fashion brands could pop a styled model into the robot studio, navigate a few controls on an iPad and walk away with professional looking stills and video in one brief session (in theory, at least).
The StyleShoot studio captures stills and video using a Canon 1DX Mk II with a 24-105mm STM lens atop a motorized 3-axis gimbal. There’s also a 3D depth sensing camera that’s used to alert the StyleShoot software to the location of objects inside the booth. It’s all connected to a Mac Pro running the company’s proprietary advanced image and video processing software. As for lighting, there are six high-CRI LED skylight panels from Rotolight and six high-CRI LED striplights (also from Rotolight). The booth also features a reversible reflector with white or matte black sides opposite the striplight which can be used to bounce light. The StyeShoot Live comes with a neutral backdrop but additional fabric backdrops can be hung in the booth as well.
The StyleShoots Live is 116 x 126 x 216 inches in size–roomy, but certainly not large enough to accommodate large groups of people.
A user controls all of these pieces using an iPad Pro with a custom interface. The StyleShoots Live can produce JPG, PNG, TIFF and RAW images plus 4K video (including RAW video output).
All of the gear is controlled through the company’s Style Engine software via the iPad. According to StyleShoots, the software understands where the product is in the shot, the physical location of the model (including how tall they are) and can adjust all the shooting or filming parameters to ensure an optimal image (or movie).
Users of the StyleShoots Live booth will be able to define style presets and the software will be able to compile videos into the correct file formats and aspect ratios for different online platforms. A user can control the brightness of the lights but cannot manually set exposure settings on the camera–those calculations are done by the software.
So, does the company envision putting fashion photographers and filmmakers out to pasture? Not necessarily. According to an FAQ, they note, “To run a fashion shoot, you need a creative eye to compose the shot, pose the model and style the clothes – a robot can’t do that (yet).” Further, they see the booth filling “that gap between high end editorial campaigns you see featuring models like Gigi Hadid and Cara Delevingne, and catalogue-style pack shots where attention is solely on the product.”
StyleShoots is available to buy for $75,000 (Eur) excluding installation or transportation costs. It can also be leased.