Making Still Images Move

Burlesque club, Las Vegas (click image for motion sample)

I’m often asked how to prep still images and how to make them move in a multimedia/video piece.  My initial response to this question is to reply with a series of questions – “Why do you want to make your images move?” “What’s your motivation? What do you want to communicate to the viewer?” “Do you need sound and movement to better tell your story?”

I’m not one to do things just because I can – I need a reason.  For me a still image is an entity in and of itself – a moment in time to be studied and contemplated.  When I present still images in a multimedia presentation – those “moments in time” become part of a greater whole.  That new entity becomes a different visual message with sound and motion becoming the underlying spine of the piece.  Added information that’s needed to convey that particular story. The still images become sequences and the sound and movement of the piece create the “feel” and “pace” of the whole.

As far as the practical aspects of creating a multimedia piece – the first step is to choose an editing software that works into your workflow.  I use Final Cut Pro Studio on a Mac.  I use Final Cut Pro (within the suite)  if I don’t have a lot of images to edit but lately I’ve been using Motion (also included in the Studio suite)  – because it’s easy – once you know it. You don’t need the depth of these software applications  to create a simple multimedia piece.  There are plenty of software applications to choose from  – iMovie and FCP Express in the Apple family, Adobe Premiere (cross platformed if using an Intel Mac) , Sony Vegas for PC’s  and simpler programs like Soundslides or Audacity.

There are many tutorials on this subject – check out Ken Stone or – both great places to learn.  In the meantime I will share my recipe for how I size and prep my images for multimedia presentations.  Like anything else, there are hundreds  of ways to get to the same end – but these are my suggestions that I find work best.  Another note – I use large image sizes so that I when I bring the images into my editing timeline – I have room to zoom into the images without having to  enlarge them beyond 100% in the video application.

My sizing/prepping suggestions for still images:

RGB color mode

Srgb color profile for SD (standard def)

HDTV (Re.709) color profile for HD (hi def)

Tiff, PSD or PNG – better than Jpeg

Don’t over sharpen image – it will jitter on screen

Use de-interlace filter for web videos – but this is something you need to test – I don’t always like the effect this filter has.

Sizing – I always upsize my images 2.5 x needed for video timeline  if I will be moving them “Ken Burns” style. Below are different specs for HD and SD and different aspect ratios:

Standard Def – DV NTSC 4:3 – 1800x1350x72 (pixels)(res)

Standard Def – NTSC 16:9 – 2132x1200x72 (pixels)(res)

HD – 720p – 3200x1800x72 (pixels)(res)

HD – 1080i – 4800x2700x72 (pixels)(res)

It’s really never been easier to prep still images in an application like Photoshop because there are lots of built in presets. I always prep all my assets and import them into my editing software before I even begin to edit.  That way I don’t need to depart from the edit and lose a train of thought whenever I need to add a still image or other graphic.

Have fun – and when you do decide to move an image – ask yourself why first?

%d bloggers like this: