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Capturing Still Life in Captivating Ways.


Video is an incredibly powerful form of media and continues to be the preferred content for social media users and algorithms alike. To get the most out of your social media efforts, you might have to think outside the box and find ways to create captivating videos from still-life content.



Over the years we have filmed with all sorts of static subjects from food such as burgers, ice cream, and cocktails to claymation figures. Each of those things can be enticing when we’re face-to-face with them, but in the world of video, they can come across as stagnant. Creative decisions about staging, equipment, and movement play a huge role in making an interesting final product.


Background and props


Your shot staging begins simply with the surfaces your subject will appear on. A marble counter, picnic blanket, and office desk all provide different contextual information to the viewer. In a studio setting, you can achieve various looks in one space by using faux surfaces and backdrops—but tread carefully, as you don’t want the final image to look fake.


Including props can provide further narrative details and visual interest. For example, a cutting board with slices of produce can imply the use of fresh ingredients while also nicely filling out the frame.


Incorporating a thoughtful color palette into your background and props is a great way to tie all the elements together and ensure a strong brand presence.


Composition


There are various compositional techniques to consider while building out a scene. One of the best known is the rule of thirds, where you divide your frame into nine equal parts like a tic-tac-toe board and place important elements along the lines or at their intersections. Another technique called layering has you divide your frame in a different way, chunking it into foreground, middle ground, and background with items of interest in each section. More simply, you also have symmetry (mirroring your composition on an axis), leading lines (aligning elements in your scene to point to your subject), filling the frame (closing in on the subject), and negative space (leaving the area surrounding your subject empty).


While creating your scene, you may also want to experiment with different angles. Looking down at 45 degrees will feel very different than facing your subject head on or viewing it from directly above. You can also play with perspective with your camera angles—for example, a steep upward angle can make your subject appear larger than life. See what makes the most sense for your background, props, and most importantly, the subject.


Movement


Moving the camera during filming, such as panning, tilting, or pushing in can breathe life into your still scene. However, movement that interacts with the scene tends to be more engaging. Reaching a hand in to adjust a prop, add an additional element, or remove something from the scene can go a long way. Movement doesn’t have to be dramatic—you can even focus on small movements, such as a drop of condensation rolling down a glass or the shuffle caused by a breeze blowing through a window. Pay attention to where the eye is drawn when movement occurs, and make sure the most important parts of the frame are being highlighted.


For a bolder approach, consider incorporating stop motion or time-lapse techniques.


Equipment


As with every video project, the equipment you choose impacts the final image. Your video production crew will carefully consider the cameras, lenses, lights, and other gear to ensure you get the look you’re going for.


Variables such as lens focal length can alter the entire scene. For example, a prime macro lens will provide exceptional sharpness on the subject and compression inside the scene, allowing the product to fill the frame. A probe lens is an elongated barrel attachment that offers a unique perspective and extreme close up shots. It can make a burger look like a mountain because of the immersive nature of the lens.


Lighting directly impacts the viewer’s relationship with the scene. Dark and moody lighting induce feelings of seriousness or seduction, while bright lighting can convey cleanliness and health. Intense contrast with heavy shadows can create visual interest; bright lights can highlight detail or draw the eye; moving lights grab attention.


Postproduction


The video’s not complete until it has gone through postproduction—an essential part of the process, as it can greatly impact the overall visual aesthetic. Color grading allows filmmakers to manipulate the colors in their footage to achieve a desired style, atmosphere, or emotion. This can help to convey a story’s tone as well as evoke a particular emotional response from the viewer. Additionally, sharpening and additional lighting adjustment on the back end can make the final product really sing.


Video is a marketing necessity, so don’t let the static nature of your subject matter hold you back from creating compelling and engaging video content. Think creatively using this Insight to help you build your next still life video shoot!

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