August 21, 2008

Still images more powerful than video

I’m not sure I completely believe that but certainly my last post hints this.  Today I see Barbara Ganley, who is one of my longtime blog heroines and thinkers refering to the post and of course takes the idea much further and further complicates and spins the idea of writing and imagery to new depths. (that’s a compliment by the way)

Then I grab this little gem from Garr Reynolds about Ken Burns:

When you think about it, often the photo really is more powerful than video at telling the story. The photo captures a moment in time allowing the viewer to slow down and think and wonder and reflect. Photos allow for greater emphasis and may have less distracting elements, giving the presenter or narrator/film maker more freedom to augment the photo (or the other way around). We can learn a lot from documentary film, especially the kind like those created by Burns which rely so heavily on still images. One tip is to avoid the usage of imagery as ornamentation. What you see in Burns’ films is a simple and powerful use of photos and other imagery that support the narrative and illuminate the story on a visceral level, thereby making the experience richer and stickier.

As someone who has been using video for a long time and is considers himself a better videographer than a photographer, I am becoming more appreciative of the still image. As Burns says in the video excerpt below, “video is simply a series of 24 still frames per second”.

You can think of stills as slow motion. As a sports enthusiast, the advent of slow motion has transformed the viewing of sports and allows us to gain an understanding of the intricacies of athletics in ways never before possible. We’ve had this for a long time with stills, it was simply hidden in plain sight at least for me.