The best videos use live motion video taken with a video camera. However, you can also use still pictures to make a video. Using still pictures can be much easier, faster, and cheaper than using live motion video. Using still pictures can enable you to make a video even if you do not have a video camera.
Still pictures can be used very effectively on video. Simple snap shots will do, any still image can be used. Here are some tips to help make a still picture video special.
The Internet loves viral videos put together with still pictures, graphics and music. These are extremely easy to make. Generally speaking, online video is not nearly as sophisticated on a technical level as broadcast television so you will see lots of online videos using still pictures where it is fairly rare on regular TV.
WHERE DO I GET THE STILL PICTURES?
You can take them yourself or buy them. There are tons of websites where you can buy still pictures for a dollar or less and get high quality. One of the largest and most well-known is istockphoto.
If you buy images off a site like istock, the first step is to download them to your computer hard drive. Make sure you put them in a logical place so you can easily find them. Organization is key. Name them something descriptive and logical too. The name they are given on istock is probably just a long number that doesn’t really tell you anything. The first thing I do with an istock image is rename it.
Once you have your image on your hard drive, you simply import the stills into a free video editing program like Windows Movie Maker. The import function is easy to use in all video editing programs, all it really requires is that you know what folder the pictures are in and can identify which ones you want by name.
Add the pictures to your timeline in the order you want, then add music, transitions and graphics. Voila! You are an artiste.
REASONS TO USE STILL PICTURES
Still pictures often provide visuals for stuff that simply ca not be captured on tape for whatever reason. Which is easier for the low-budget video producer who needs a shot of Henry the VIII?
- Import a scan out of the history text book of the oil painting of Good King Henry
- Hire an actor, rent an elaborate costume, and build an appropriate set.
The still picture option wins every time!
Ideally, a video should be made of moving video, but stills can be substituted easily, particularly if that’s all you have or you’re low on funds. I’ve seen hundreds of low-dollar videos that rely on stills completely. Stills can be much easier, faster and therefore cheaper. If you add some music, throw in a few nice graphics, such a still picture video can work beautifully and be finished quickly.
HOW TO GET STILL IMAGES ON YOUR VIDEO
If you actually have the pictures you want to use in your video in front of you, you need to somehow get them into your editing program. At its easiest and most crude, all you have to do to get that still image on video is to scotch tape a photo on the wall and take a shot of it with your video camera. Use a tripod and be at least 6 feet away. Zoom in on the picture. Fill up the frame as much as possible. If you fill it up 100%, no one will ever guess you have been tacky and just scotch taped the picture on the wall. Somehow, it will all translate into the “magic” of TV. Then you capture your video into your software prgram like you usually do.
Unnecessary aside: I gotta laugh when I hear people say the “magic of TV”. Trust me, there ain’t no magic involved above the molecular level. It always amazed me how many people are actually fooled and think if it’s on TV it must be spectacular, magical, special, important and true. Good grief, if you could see “behind the scenes” I promise you would not be so impressed. I’ve seen testimonials staged for the cheap insurance commercials and the “satisfied customer” is just one of the low-paid crew members who’d never heard of this insurance company until they paid him to say they are terrific.
It is probably easier to scan the photos onto your hard drive and import them into your video editing software than it is to videotape them with a camera. If the picture needs cropping or adjustments, do that first in a photo editing program. Many simple photo editing programs can crop a picture, but most of the simple video editing programs can’t. The more sophisticated ones do of course.
Programs like Final Cut Pro can easily crop and otherwise alter a still picture, but if possible, shoot it in the camera cropped properly in order to save time later in editing. That way is faster.
There’s a saying in TV production that, “if the picture doesn’t move, move the picture.” Doing a slow zoom or pan across a still picture can help the flow of your video. With professionally produced TV today, this is done virtually every time a still picture is used.
Notice I said SLOW zoom or pan. The movement can be done with the camera lens while shooting, or done digitally during editing if you’re using a sophisticated program like Final Cut Pro. (FCP). A basic program like Windows Movie Maker will not allow you to zoom in on a still picture.
The advantage of doing it during editing is that it’s tons easier to get a perfectly smooth, slow movement. Unless you have a high-dollar fluid head tripod, you’ll never get perfectly smooth movement panning or tilting the camera and even zooming smoothly can be tricky. This is especially true when beginning or ending a movement; a tripod will always wiggle on you.
The disadvantage of doing “camera movement” while editing boils down to the differences between optical (done with lens) and digital zooming, panning or tilting. This is even assuming that your digital editing program can handle the task. Simple freebies like Windows Movie maker are not up to the task but you could handle it easily with a more sophisticated video editing program.
When you do a digital movement, you have a set amount of pixels you’re working with and you are either enlarging them (zoom) or moving across them. (Pan) So with digital movements, you will either run out of shot before you get a decent move or you’ll have to zoom in so much your shot will deteriorate into pixels.
An optical zoom will retain great resolution, no matter how tight you get in on an object and as long as you can twist and twirl the camera, an optical pan or tilt can be made to last as long as you need it to.
Adding some movement to your still pictures can spice up your video.
Another way to turn still pictures into a snazzy video is to use a rapid pace when editing. A really nice still picture montague might be as rapid as one picture every half second.
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