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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pro Tips For Making Multimedia

HD video in DSLRs is a hot topic, and more nature photographers see the potential for creating a new way to display and share images. OP went to a seasoned pro for the secrets to a first-rate production.

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Obviously when you’re shooting video, you’re confined to a horizontal format, but if you’re incorporating still images into a multimedia project, you can make use of vertical shots as well. Using the “Ken Burns Effect” of scanning and zooming in a shot like this can make for some outstanding video. Like everything, it’s best to do it in moderation. Don’t get too carried away or you run the risk of distracting your audience.
When I shoot for editorial, I always approach it like the first lesson I received in film school, which I now find becoming even more relevant as a photographer. You’re given a list of shots, or coverage, that you need to get for every scene—the establishing shot, the portrait, the medium close-up, the close-up and the details or macro. This same approach is key to making a solid film.

The establishing shot is the wide angle. It’s the shot that sets the scene, lets the viewer understand the environment the story is about and introduces us to the world. The portrait and medium close-ups are the shots that introduce us to the individual characters; whether it’s the park ranger, a bumble bee or a flower, we now know who this is about. The close-up shots and details are for variety. They let you change the aspects of our characters, and we get to know them more personally, not just a bumble bee but perhaps a bee with pollen on the legs, not just a park ranger, but a park ranger with a wide smile who’s friendly. Work the scene, dig deep, and shoot every aspect from every angle to provide as much coverage as possible because you’ll need it all when it’s time to edit the materials into a finished product.

People get bored easily. To keep your audience engaged and interested, keep things tight. Less is more in multimedia, and the statistical tune-out of most viewers is around 2 minutes, 30 seconds. Any longer and you better have a compelling, award-winning production on your hands. Edit ruthlessly. Distill your story to the most basic elements that will illuminate the subject matter in as vibrant, but brief a way as possible. A good 30-second video is better than an average five-minute video.

While there are a variety of editing platforms available for amateurs and professionals alike, the leader in editing software is Apple Final Cut Pro, which is what I use. Editing software is available in stripped-down versions or full studio suites, which range in price and complexity.

Once you have all your acquired assets in one folder for the project, import them into Final Cut Pro, File > Import. This will give you a lightbox of sorts on the left-hand side that lists all of your still and video files. From there, it’s as simple as dragging them onto the timeline and beginning to move them around in a way that tells your story. While it gets infinitely more complex from here, this is a great place to start getting familiar with the environment. You also can import a music or soundtrack and drag that onto the same timeline, allowing you to get a feel for how the final vision might come together.

Every track in your Final Cut Pro sequence is another opportunity to enhance your story. Anyone can make a slideshow, but filmmaking is taking advantage of every element, from how one shot transitions into another to the music you choose to the sound effects you add. You easily can get carried away, and sometimes simple is better, but always be aware of the opportunities that you have and choose what’s appropriate rather than always heading in the same direction.

It’s an exciting time to be a photographer. Our roles as communicators, as storytellers, have expanded. It’s easy to feel inundated with all these new tools, but it’s what we’re already doing—expressing our emotions and visions and perceptions of the world around us. Now all we need to do is embrace the tools that will help us get there. No matter what you may think of multimedia, though, it’s evident that this new format of storytelling has arrived, has made itself at home and will be an indispensable tool in the future of photography and stories in the 21st century.


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