Magnum In Motion

By Jo Caird 09/05/10

One lucky winner of the IdeasTap Photographic Award will fly to New York to produce an "In Motion" piece with Magnum Photos. Adrian Kelterborn, from their digital studios in New York, offers an insight into the process

Magnum In Motion, the multimedia digital studio of Magnum Photos, was founded in 2004 to build a stronger online presence for the agency. Production of ‘In Motion’ photography pieces – photo essays with multi-media elements attached - began in 2005 and now hold over 100 works by a diverse selection of Magnum photographers.

Adrian Kelterborn joined Magnum In Motion as an intern in 2005 following a degree in film in Zurich. Shortly after completing his internship with the company, Kelterborn was offered the job of Magnum In Motion Producer and has been producing pieces for them ever since. Here he tells us how to create an ‘In Motion’ work.


The process of creating a Magnum In Motion piece starts with the very same thing as if you did a series of photographs for a magazine: you have to analyse what the story is about and how you want to tell it. Then it’s a few elements that are different: there’s time – how you time it, how you pace it; there’s the commentary aspect - who talks about the photography; and then there’s the music you choose to accompany it.

From the very start, it’s about identifying what you want to say. Let’s say you pick a topic to photograph. Who might have interesting comments about it? Do you want to have those comments spoken aloud, or do you want that additional information transmitted by text? It starts with a thinking process and you then try to define what media you’re going to need to get to the most effective results. Then you put it together.

The format makes it possible to really get into your chosen subject. But you could also do a behind-the-scenes style Magnum In Motion project. How the photographer works for instance. That’s certainly one thing that’s interesting for the photography community.

Photographers are creating this type of work on their own more and more. They collect the various elements for it, sound or video perhaps, and put it all together. But it’s similar to producing a book - maybe you just get better results if you work with real book designers and people who know about font and specific elements like that. I personally don’t think it’s a good idea to try to do everything yourself. You should try to identify your strengths and collaborate with people who have complimentary skills. It’s more successful with collaborative effort.

‘In Motion’ pieces vary quite a bit but the average length is four minutes. What works best depends on the context but we’ve had most success with the four-minute format. I don’t know for certain why this is, but perhaps it’s something to do with the attention span of people viewing material online. It’s interesting though – and we know this from looking at user data from the website - that even with the longer pieces people seem to watch them from beginning to end.

The format offers the viewer more of a filmic experience. It’s a new visual experience, because you can do things that you couldn’t do in print, such as add motion graphics. But it’s always about trying to use those elements smartly because the work can get lost in these infinite possibilities.

In some ways it’s similar to documentary film, but we hope we can create something different by really putting the emphasis on the still. There is something special about telling stories with stills rather than moving images; by building those projects with more interactive elements, you can focus on the stills rather than on the video stream.

Adrian Kelterborn was talking to Jo Caird

Find out more about our collaboration with Magnum Photos, The IdeasTap Photographic Award.

 

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