The intersection of photography and technology has exploded since the turn of the millennium. The introduction of camera phones to the consumer market has led novice technology users to explore professional photo techniques such as manipulation of light or altered perspective. With a camera in your pocket, and now basic editing software readily available through third-party apps, the mass consumer can dub themselves a ‘content creator’ without understanding how far we have come over the last 20 years. If everyday users are able to create content that used to require large crews and expensive resources, what term can we reserve for the true visionaries pushing the limits of rapidly evolving visual technology? Visual engineering is a term that should be used more frequently.
The first time I came across the term visual engineering, I was researching high-speed cameras and came across prolific director, Steve Giralt. A frequent collaborator of the Bubba’s team, Giralt, is an innovator whose expertise spans from photography to custom rigging and through marrying the two with robotics, has created some of the best in-camera visuals in the tabletop space. Giralt has branded himself with the term visual engineering, but upon further research, many others like production companies, camera companies, and even singular artists, like graphic designers and illustrators, have a fondness for the term.
How do you define Visual Engineering?
To me, visual engineering is the process of blending emerging technology with visual mediums to create a new standard of extraordinary visuals.
Instagram is my favorite platform to discover new artist’s portfolio of work. Young ‘content creators’ are using relatively inexpensive tools like drones, 360 cameras, and hand-held stabilizers, to get high res images that are then put into editing software enabling them to engineer otherworldly visuals. Gone are the days of high-level CGI companies working with big-budget studios as our exclusive option to alter reality in ways never before seen. Now a kid with an iPhone and access to the Adobe suite is able to reimagine what humans perceive as reality.
Visual Engineering is not limited to motion pictures, although it is more commonly used. As outlined in this Medium article, Pamela Partington began her career as a ‘graphic designer’ but as her work evolved through technology, she found the term somewhat limiting to her portfolio. Many visual engineers specialize in creating ‘experiences’—a buzzword rapidly finding its way into the advertising industry. Brand experiences shared by consumers are as valuable as viral pieces of content. What I would argue, creating experience combines learned skills with new technology to exceed the expectations of consumers in the new age of advertising. We no longer want to be told what to buy, we want to experience it for ourselves. Visuals created by someone like Steve Giralt take you through the process of how a cheeseburger is made, thus visually engineering an experience we didn’t know we needed until we watch it 10 times in a row on loop thinking, ‘How the f**k did they do that?’
I do not consider myself a visual engineer, for I am not a master of any singular medium. I am, however, a curious consumer constantly on the search for visual content that reshapes my idea of what is possible. Visual engineering has no concrete definition but moving forward, I will continue to use it to separate the pioneers pushing the boundaries of visual content from the everyday creators whose need for content often outweighs creativity.
By: Victor Tyler
Business Development at Bubba’s LA