A Guest Post by Benjamin Jenks from AdventureSauce.com.
You love digital photography…
Or at least you love when you capture a beautiful moment and you can share that moment with others.
What if you could share more of these moments with more people?
The technique I’m suggesting is called photomotion. It is a close relative of stop motion and some call it a photo montage. You could also call it a slideshow that had way to many cups of coffee.
Basically, we will squash hundreds of photographs together in entertaining sequences.
Your photographs will be displayed for only fractions of a second and if they are artfully arranged, you can create a visually stunning movie that thousands would be interested to watch.
I recently hitchhiked all around the USA to live out a dream of mine (I know… I know… my grandmother thought it was a curious dream too).
I am fascinated by people and this seemed like a great way to meet Americans of all walks of life. I was looking for an education through adventure and I got what I was looking for.
At the end of my trip, I wanted to share what I had experienced with as many people as possible, so as I hitchhiked from the Pacific to the Atlantic, I took over 3,000 photographs with 930 people.
I then crammed the photos into a 162 second movie that danced and sang to a catchy beat.
Watch it… if you have a couple minutes.
When I uploaded my video to Youtube over 100,000 people watched it in the first week.
Sure… maybe I’m not contending for Justin Bieber-like Internet fame, but it was exciting to watch my moments touch people from around the world.
I also realized that this was a simple way of creating a stunning movie. It does require a lot of patience and hard work, but the technique is basic enough that it can be replicated by anyone with the right motivation.
You won’t need to learn much about film theory or buy an expensive video camera.
You won’t need a complicated video editor or thousands of Twitter followers ready to share your masterpiece.
You will just need some basic equipment and an idea you care about.
WARNING: It is challenging to get photomotion right and many people end up creating a seizure-inducing film that assaults the viewer’s eyes.
Here are the 7 steps that helped me get it right, how I promoted my video (despite having only 5 Youtube subscribers at the time), and how you can have similar success.
1. Make Your Game Plan
It will take more than beautiful photography to make a photomotion video work. The keys to smooth photomotion videos are:
A. Choosing one central focus
Choose one theme and take your photographs with focus.
Choose a theme you are passionate about and one that is bigger than yourself.
Here are some sample videos to get your brain working:
Chris Rehage walks across China over a year and grows a big beard:
A bike left on the streets of NYC for 365 days
A man condenses his 2,200 mile hike into 5 minutes:
A wolf chases a pig:
B. Deciding how long your video will be?
If Youtube fame and fortune is your goal, you will want to shoot for less than 60 seconds… maybe 2 minutes at the most.
Your friends might forgive a 5-minute epic video, but shorter is much easier to share.
C. How long will you shoot for?
Will you shoot the outside of your home every day for one year?
Or will you take photographs of your wife getting pregnant over 9 months?
Maybe you want to take photographs of yourself in various locations around your hometown?
Choose an interval of time that works for the concept of your video. Then consider how often you should take photographs… once a day, multiple times a day, or is once a week enough?
D. How fast will you play your photographs?
I suggest showing each photograph for as long as 1/5 of a second to as short as 1/30 of a second.
This is a big difference and could mean you only need a few hundred photographs or as many as a couple thousand.
More is usually better.
You won’t know what really works though, until you can experiment with your video editor.
E. Where and how will you shoot?
Each video will be different, but choosing visually stimulating locations makes better movies.
Movement looks interesting in photomotion, because you can mess with time. Choose sequences and shoot a lot of photographs of your subject’s movement.
2. What about Equipment?
You won’t need fancy equipment to make this work. A point and shoot digital camera or even your phone could work.
Does your camera allow you to take multiple images, when you hold down the shutter?
This feature is helpful.
A DSLR will offer more control and options, but these won’t do you any good, if you don’t know how to use it.
You might also consider an external flash, a special lens, or a tripod.
3. Start Clicking Your Camera
Take your photographs and have fun.
Take more photos than you think you will need. Deleting is free.
Also, take well-composed photographs. It might seem tedious to focus on hundreds of photographs that will zoom past the viewer in fractions of a second, but it is worth it in the end.
Watch Mike’s One Week In Japan, who rebelled against my central focus rule, but did create an impressive video:
4. Edit Your Photographs
Edit the photographs for exposure issues to avoid a flicker effect.
If you feel like tweaking the color, contrast, or saturation, I recommend editing in batches to save yourself a lot of time. I found that Lightroom and Aperature worked best for my Mac. Advanced Batch Converter works for Windows and has a 30-day Free Trial. Batch Photo is another one to consider with a Free Trial.
However, some edits must be done by hand (like if you need to put your face in the exact center of all 3,000 photos). This is very time intensive (and a huge pain), so prepare lots of coffee.
5. Choose Your Tunes
Music is one of the most important parts of popular videos on Youtube, however, acquiring a license can be very tedious.
I suggest you choose a great royalty-free track using one of these websites for free or inexpensive music:
Most are Creative Commons licenses, but many won’t allow you to use them for commercial purposes (even with ads). Check each license carefully.
If you are just aiming to knock your friends socks off, Youtube allows some popular music to be used without having the copyright license.
6. Compose Your Masterpiece In Your Video Editor
Now it is time to make your photographs sing and dance with your tunes in your video editor.
You won’t need anything fancy. The basic video editors for Mac (iMovie) and Windows (Windows Movie Maker) will do the trick.
I used Final Cut Pro X ($299) and as an iMovie user found the controls very intuitive. Plus, I loved the extra options.
Speed up and slow down the rate your images play to go with the music. Experiment with different speeds to evoke different emotions and accentuate different sequences.
Extra Tip: Many computer processors will struggle under the weight of hundreds of images to edit. Use Quiktime Pro 7 (29.99$ Mac or Windows), the Time LapseAssembler(Free Download Mac), or Virtual Dub (Free Download Windows ) to turn all these photos in a movie. You can then import this movie into your editor and work with a much smaller project.
7. Promote your Masterpiece
You don’t need to be a social media guru to help your video to go viral. I had 5 Youtube subscribers, when I launched my video and only an email list of a few hundred friends.
Your friends will be essential to spreading your video. I recruited my friends and got them invested in my video. I shared updates about how my video was progressing. I shared behind-the-scenes photographs. I even make a video draft and showed it to my friends asking for feedback.
By the time the video was done, many had helped me create it, so were eager to help it succeed.
Then on launch day, I emailed all of my friends and posted it on my social media sites.
I also emailed all the relevant blogs.
Over the next 48 hours, I emailed all the viral video, travel, video, culture, and music blogs.
Keep your message short. Something like this worked well:
Hey (Name of Editor/Author/Blogger),
I’m a big fan!
I’m betting your audience would love this video: Hitchhike Across The USA: 5,000 miles, 3,000 photos, 930 people, 162 seconds (with link).
What are your thoughts?
I also posted the video on relevant travel forums.
The key to a viral video is pushing for a lot of views in your first 48 hours on Youtube. If this push is successful, you will be noticed by Youtube Trends and featured by Youtube, where you will get many, many more views.
Take action now:
If this project sounds interesting, take action now by brainstorming your interests, hobbies, and passions for the perfect focus of your own video masterpiece.
Make a video you are truly care about and it won’t matter how many people watch on Youtube.
Benjamin Jenks offers creative strategies to help you live, work, and travel, like an adventurer at AdventureSauce.com.
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