The whole of life is just like watching a film. Only it’s as though you always get in ten minutes after the big picture has started, and no-one will tell you the plot, so you have to work it out all yourself from the clues. ― Terry Pratchett, Moving Pictures
So, if we’re going to talk this week about the use of moving pictures as a marketing tool, and that is exactly what we’re doing, then it only makes sense that we look at portraits and how we might turn a simple, beautiful photograph into something more without sacrificing the integrity of the image. Right away, we are faced with a problem. Portraits are typically oriented with the vertical side being longer. Video, however, is oriented so that the horizontal side is longer. Try putting a vertically-oriented portrait into a video setting and two severe problems occur: the picture size has to be reduced to fit the frame, and large black borders dominate the screen.
Solving those problems means not only choosing a landscape-oriented photo, but cropping it to meet the dimensions necessary for final output. This information is not obvious when working with Adobe® PremierPro™. If there is a way to manually set the dimensions of the stage, or what photographers might think of as the canvas, I’ve not found it yet. Instead, PremierePro sizes the visual area according to the dimensions of the first visual media placed on the timeline. I assume this isn’t a huge problem when working with video, since the orientation there should match camera output, but with still photographs it means knowing to what output format you will export, and cropping the image to the dimensions of that format. We chose YouTube’s 1080p HD format as our final destination, so we needed to crop the image to 1920×1080 pixels before importing it into the project.
For a portrait as delightfully wonder as this one, I didn’t feel that moving around all over the place served the image well, especially since we only have 30 seconds. So, for the majority of the time we see the full image. When we do zoom in, it’s to the places one’s eyes are naturally drawn: the flowers and the faces. We end with focus on the faces because, in any portrait, that is what is most important.
Music was a critical issue here as well and trying to find 30-second clips in the public domain is almost impossible. The soundtrack one chooses to go with an image is probably the most important decision one makes here after selecting an image. Music guides not only the emotion of the video but also plays a defining role in determining when movement takes place. The music and the animation need to match or the video format doesn’t work at all. Some minor DJ skills were necessary in clipping and overlapping the audio track so that the final guitar chord would occur at just the right place in the video. No one ever said this was going to be easy.
I like this one slightly better than I did yesterday’s video. It still took a tremendous amount of time to produce, though, and the learning curve here is extremely steep, even with already having some (limited) knowledge of video processing. I have little doubt my perspective on the whole issue of video is going to be different by the end of the week than it is at this particular moment. For the moment, I still prefer my portraits to be still, thank you. The original photo is below.