Non-live action video: Revision


Video is a medium that combines an audio component with a visual component. Video is where at least two senses are utilized (hearing and seeing) in order to help the viewer take in a message, in order to absorb the communication attempted. Audio and visual are married second by second, frame by frame in an attempt to complement each other's purpose of saying, "This is the story we want to tell you together!"

This simple breakdown is very important to remember when considering your options for using the video medium to communicate a variety of ideas.

Video Visualization

Take a look at your YouTube history or your Facebook likes. Chances are you have accumulated a healthy number of videos in the last few weeks that don't include live action visuals.

Live action: action involving real people or animals, as contrasted with animation or computer-generated effects

In these instances, the creator of the video has decided that the real world isn't the best vehicle for communicating his or her message. As video creators, we all have the same decision to make when considering how our video tells its story: rely on the world you're provided or a world you create (live action vs. non-live action).

As we discussed in class, this classification of non-live action visuals includes techniques such as:

  • RSA Animate-style live drawing
  • Motion graphics
  • stop-motion
  • computer generated imagery (CGI)
  • claymation
  • Common Craft/In Plain English-style pre-drawn animations
  • jpg animation

The list goes on and is only restricted by your imagination, especially since that's where all these come from. Also, as we discussed, non-live action classification is fuzzy as a concept. You can make an argument that claymation is within the real world or live action footage stretched or manipulated isn't real. The main idea is that you have more options than the ones you see around you to help visualize your message in a video.

We will be using Lab time to experiment with non-live action visualization techniques, and as you go about choosing your technique to trial, consider the tag #videovisualization, which includes ideas and inspiration from your peers. I've created a digest below of some of the most interesting (and doable!) techniques within that idea pool.

A #videovisualization digest and guerilla production tips

Stop motion animation with drawing: This well-produced Vimeo staff pick depicts a student daydreaming in Biology class and using his notebook to animate a world with robo-elephants. Consider using a tripod to mount a camera, identify some quality lighting sources, and use your own sketches on paper to create stop motion animation. Know that you can also film and pull frames to create the stop motion effect. (video courtesy of Sydney Morris)

Live drawing: Utilize the white board to create an evolving visual that explains what your audio unfolds. All you have to do is set up a video camera on a tripod (or steady surface) in front of a well-lit whiteboard. Make sure it's clean when you begin every illustration. I would suggest sketching all your illustrations on paper before filming them on the whiteboard. Then, you just speed up the video footage in FCPX, possibly play with framing and cropping, and pair the visual with your audio explanation! (video courtesy of Sydney Morris)

Another way of live drawing and hiding the drawer is with this technique of using tracing paper and glass. (video courtesy of Gawa)

Pre-drawn animations: Maybe you're intimidated by drawing live in front of the camera. Maybe you're more comfortable making them ahead of time and moving them around to get that dynamic movement. Two brands come to mind with this technique: In Plain English (seen above) and Common Craft. These two also present interesting examples of how to break down a concept to explain to an unknowing audience, which is a skill not easily obtained or exercised. (video courtesy of Pema Tshering (2014))

Live action + non-live action: Imagine your speech footage paired with a visual interpretation of the message within the same frame. (video courtesy of Paul Hendrik Schmidt-Engelbertz) Or what about placing a person in a world you create with found objects and recognizable settings? This one really blurs the line between live and non-live, but it represents someone's ability to create their own visuals to connect to the audio. (video courtesy of Zora Ouhabi)

Another live + non-live technique is drawing on live action footage, as in this Lollapalooza ad (courtesy of Emma). If you can do this, please teach me.

Stop motion animation with objects: What about using objects like jelly bellies to do stop motion animation? This is a big production, but scale it down to something you can produce with your resources! This process is also very clear and could help you plan your own stop motion production. (video courtesy of Sydney Morris) Here's another example of stop motion animation with objects, this one using colored pencils. (video courtesy of Liisa Toomus) ...and another with tons of objects (courtesy of Tiana Seger).

Physical animation (like Legomation or claymation): Why not create your own world with figures or tools you know and love. How about an action movie with Lego figures! (video courtesy of Tiana Seger)

Motion Graphics: We just learned that infographics are a great way of visualizing data or concepts. Video allows for the creator to control the story that is taken in from the visuals and also time the duration a viewer spends on any particular point. The problem for our purposes might just be the barrier of the software and the learning curve associated with that. There's a lot to learn about motion graphics in general. However, if you're determined, it's definitely possible. (link courtesy of Mark Surnin and Charis Smuthkochorn (2014)) You will not have a problem finding good videos exhibition motion graphics on the Internet today. (link courtesy of Mark Surnin). I've always loved this one about oil from Good.

Animated text: I'm certain this will be labor-intensive, but I think we all agree that the resulting effect pays off. Animating text can pull even more focus and attention to the words spoken and also allow for the interpretation of the abstract words into a more visual language.

Other tools

A high-quality source for video animation inspiration: Vimeo channels

Software for creating stick figures to animate: Pivot (courtesy of Cameron Leslie (2014))

Web tool to create pop-up videos: PopcornMaker (courtesy of Mike Hourahine)

Software for making computer generated animations: Autodesk (courtesy of Yada Pruksachatkun (2014)), Motion

Check out all these ideas by clicking on #videovisualization or visit Vimeo's channel for animation & graphics.

This generator makes entertaining animations using your provided audio: GoAnimate.com