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Stills in videos

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Peter Huoppi Oct. 7, 2010, 11:42 a.m. permalink

As Colin suggested in the thread about his Apple Store video, I'm starting a thread about incorporating stills into your videos. What do you think?
Personally, I think it can be very powerful when it's done well, but when it's not the stills can look like filler and can kill the pace of a video. When I go to watch a video, I'm expecting to see things move, not to read text slides and look at static images. Photos and videos do very different things. Photos are great at capturing moments that our eyes might otherwise miss. When the photograph captures one of these moments, it makes sense to include it in the video, because it captures something that the video can't. Too often, I see stills in videos that look like they're used because the editor didn't have enough B-roll to cover everything.
I can think of four or five projects that I've edited where I used photos extensively. In every case it was because we had lots of compelling interview footage, but little to no B-roll. Some of them came out very nicely, especially the ones that incorporated historical images. But in others, I couldn't help looking at some of the stills, even really great ones, and thinking "this would have been great as a piece of video with natural sound.
If you assume five seconds between cuts, your 90 second piece needs 18 different shots. How many assignments do you shoot where you come back with 18 good moments worthy of showcasing? That super close-up of your subject's hands as he works may capture nice action and natural sound, but it's a pretty boring photo to stare at for five seconds.
It's a "style" that more and more people, including myself, are using, but I think to be successful, you need to have a good reason why a still works better than a moving image.

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