Still Frames in Video

by | Jul 11, 2016 | Videography

The use of still images can be a powerful thing in a marketing video. In an ideal world all marketing videos would be filled with beautifully framed and well lit video with purposeful motion, but sometimes that is simply not possible. Let’s face it, when talking about videos for use in marketing, the content far outweighs the art, and resources are never unlimited. That is why when, for whatever reason you have no good video footage of a particular image, stills become crucial to displaying your message. The trick to keeping those stills from standing out as boring or stale to your audience is displaying them in a dynamic way. There is one highly recommended way to this, as well as one alternate route that may serve you well in some particular situations.

The Ken Burns Method

Ken Burns is the premiere historical documentarian of the era. Because he focuses on history he must rely heavily on found and borrowed footage. Old photographs play an important role in telling his stories. To keep his photos interesting and fluid with the rest of the video, Burns uses all the fundamental aspects of film at his disposal. He will cover each still shot with both music and a relevant voice over, but most importantly he will add motion to the photo to give it a subtle pizzazz. The type of the motion will always depend on the photo itself and what you’re cutting it with. The simplest strategy is to hone in and arrive at focal points. It has also been documented that people tend to associate left to right motion with progress, whereas right to left has a subtle backtracking feeling. A simple combination of panning and zooming can offer endless options for displaying images. Experimenting with the speed, distance and direction  of the motion can yield some powerful results.

The Wes Anderson Method

Did you know that a perfectly still video camera capturing a perfectly still subject will still display tiny vibrations that the human eye and brain can internalize? It seems crazy, but taking still life video instead of a photograph can add a lot to the experience of your viewer. Wes Anderson is an Indie director who is famous for his unconventional style. He will often use the still life video technique when displaying lists. For example, if you wanted to show a series of 5 of your top products, you could have a shot of all of them laid out together on a table. Frankly, this method will often look busy. the viewer won’t know where to look and in turn will probably miss much of the image. If, however, you have still life video shots of each of them cut back to back each product is allowed to fill the screen. Also, the viewer will anticipate the next shot, maximizing the screen time of each product. Let me remind you once again that this is the niche method and it’s only to be used in specific circumstances.

Business related videos often utilize still images. The best ones go totally unnoticed by the audience. Next time you’re watching a promotional video of any kind, see if you can spot the stills and decide for yourself whether their methods are effective or not.

Conor Cleary

Conor Cleary

Multi-Media Publishing Manager at Orbit Design
Conor heads up the video and publishing departments at Orbit - overseeing books and short web films through, from the writing stages into polished content. He is always ready to talk about Orbit's video production techniques or the growing world of digital publishing.
Conor Cleary

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