Creating a video when you have no footage can be tricky. In fact, it is most likely going to be shit. Except if you employ one (or both) of the following techniques. The first is creating movement around still images using dynamic text as I did in the Spare Parts video below. The other is a by creating movement within still images by breaking them down into component parts and substituting time-lapses or simulated camera moves as I did for the Populous Taipei Dome video below.
First up, meet Priscilla Sutton. She’s a self described ‘baloney amputee’. Actually, she’s a ‘below-the-knee amputee’ but people often mishear her and think she’s just being self effacing. She’s been running the hugely successful ‘Spare Parts‘ exhibitions where artists use old prostheses that are no longer functional and turn them into artwork. Before you become ‘that guy/girl’ Click here for Priscilla’s explanation about why it’s not practical to donate them to amputees in third world countries.
Priscilla wanted to create a video describing the (bloody inspiring) Spare Parts journey. As Priscilla and I are in different states in Australia, and we had a quick deadline, travel for an interview was out of the option. So we used the app Ringr that records audio interviews with fantastic sound quality for when your guest doesn’t have studio access. Seriously Skype is now the MySpace of the recorded interview generation – not even JT can make that shit cool again.
I asked Priscillia to tell her story from beginning to end then I honed in on a few of the parts of the story I found most interesting and relevant. After we nailed down the narrative I locked myself in a dark room for a few days and spent some quality time with Adobe After Effects to create the video below. This is a great option if your story is largely narrative based AND you don’t have any video footage but do have a stack of stills.
Bonus? A video made largely from dynamic text is also fantastic for accessibility and Facebook auto-play reasons. For the audio-impaired audience no sound is required to get the message in its entirety, and for the visually impaired there are no visuals that must be seen for the story to make sense. And for the Facebookers with auto-play enabled people are reading about legs in cupboards and before they know it are hooked.
Also, content like this can be chunked down into smaller Instagram/Snapchat sized pieces – a great way to distribute the same content in different ways for various audiences.
Populous recorded an hour-long interview with one of their architects speaking about a stadium overseas. We didn’t have access to the original two camera interview files, just the final interview that was released, and we couldn’t travel to Taipei to get footage of the stadium itself – all we had were stills.
So, with the interview footage and the stills, I got to work! If you can’t create movement around the stills like I did for Spare Parts above, then we need to create movement within the stills. Images that have a bunch of sky in them can be easily converted into a mock timelapse. To do this I jumped onto the roof of my office, pointed a camera at the sky with some interesting looking clouds, made sure there was nothing else in my image (like buildings, or tree branches) and kicked off a timelapse. So the images have a Taipei foreground and a South East Queensland background. For extra effect, I added a bit of smog texture to the sky to make it more realistic and masked out as much of the original sky in the image as possible.
The second technique used here is useful when you can’t replace any sky. If you have an image with some foreground and background elements, like the stadium shots, you can easily break down the image into layers and make it look like a video camera is flying through the image.
You can always use the traditional pan across the still image, or zoom into the still image. But like MySpace that technique (should have) died in the mid-2000s.