Today, we’re discussing the imagery aspect of building your book video. Once you’ve got your script exactly as you want it — pared down to the most essential, provocative lines and as short as you can make it, it’s time to add images.
Before we delve into the specifics of choosing your images, I want to share with you a technique I use when building videos: Storyboarding. Basically, storyboarding is pulling all your elements together in one place so you can plan out the entire project. When creating a video, this serves two purposes: 1) it gives you a place to list all the elements of your video, so as you’re searching for images you like, music you like, you can jot down the URLs to easily find them again. And 2) it helps you to get a visual of just how long your video is going to be. When you suddenly have to take that script and apply it to images, you can see where timing issues might crop up.
For example: if you have too much text for each slide, then your script is probably too long. Or if your storyboard is dozens of rows long, then …once again, your script is too long or you’ve used too many images. It can be tough to gauge exact length from a storyboard, because that will depend on your transitions and timing, as well as the music. But it’s a very helpful place to start. So click here to download a storyboard template.
Finding the Emotions In Your Images
In our last post, we discussed finding the emotion in your video script and the same is true for the images. Often times, one of the mistakes I see in videos is that the image is an exact replica of the words. For example, let’s say that a line in the book video is: “kidnapped from her bed”. The most literal image would be, obviously, a bed – like the one below:
This is a stock photo of a child’s bedroom with no graphic changes , but it’s pretty bland. It tells you exactly what it is, but when you’re dealing with a phrase like “kidnapped from her bed”, you need to focus on what isn’t in the those words. What is the underlying emotion? Think keywords–Alone. Afraid. Sad. Frightened.– and then think of an image that might convey more of an emotional hit toward those words. So instead of the pretty pink bedroom, perhaps an image like this:
A teddy bear left behind, in a dark corner definitely conveys sadness, fear, alone to me. For good comparision, here is a mockup of that slide with each image:
Which ones conveys the right emotions more? By choosing a strong image, you can punch to the script that wasn’t there with just the words.
A good rule of thumb if you’re unsure of your image choices is to consider how specific it is. Whereas with the script, often times you need to be a little less detailed (for lack of a way to explain the words in so little time), with your images, you can take the opportunity to show something extra.
If you have a line in your script that says something like, “she fled alone across the countryside”, what sort of image would you consider? Let’s say the book is historical, the countryside in question is England and the woman fleeing is running away from a dangerous situation. What would you think a good choice?
The easiest option would be a nice picture of an English countryside – there are plenty to choose from, like this one:
But it’s bland. It doesn’t show the story, it only mimics the words on the screen. How much more specific or compelling could you get? A woman in history would rarely be alone, certainly not traveling. If she’s fleeing a dangerous situation, there are a lot of emotional pulls there. What would you look for to further illustration the emotion of the moment?
To continue with the blog series, I took one of the videos commented on last week and created an alternative — just to get the discussion moving further. One of the slides in particular, I think shows a strong connection between what the words say and what the image adds to it:
Read the words by themselves: Is honesty important to you?
It’s a basic question and you could assume that anyone would think with an automatic answer: Yes. But if you heighten that question by presenting a situation? Someone drops money in front of you. You could give it back to them or keep it yourself… it turns that question into an actual character presented issue. That’s your goal with choosing images for each line of your script: heighten the emotion and pull something out of it that wasn’t there with just the words. Dig deeper.
To further the discussion, I took the book Character Happens by Garry M. Graves, who has been sharing and participating with us all along, and created an alternate book video. This was simply to offer up other options for discussion, talking points and get your feedback on what you think works and doesn’t work. I focused specifically on drilling down the script to the basics and finding images that conveyed the emotions behind the questions. So discuss below. 🙂
Creating a Cohesive Look
One thing you may notice is that all of the images accept for the last ones are black and white. That was done specifically, because often times it’s said that more emotion is pulled from a black and white photo than a color one. And since this book is about character, the emotion of the image and not the details is really what you want the viewer to focus on.
But it’s also created with the intent on giving the video a “look.” One mistake I see often is when so many different types of images are used in one video. They can be black and white, color, sepia, bright primary colors and then dark earth tones in the next one. The mix of elements can at times be overwhelming and your message can definitely get lost in the shuffle.
So another element to think about when selecting your images is truly how well they blend with each other. Do they work as a set? Whether that means you need to do a little graphic enhancement (shading, etc, if you know how) to match the tones of the pictures or they work on their own, there should be a natural flow from one picture to the next.
The Legal Considerations
Any time you create something for promotional value, you have to be very careful that all the items you include, from images to music, come with the appropriate license. Most important, this means you cannot just grab images from the net wherever you choose. Basically, you cannot use any photo or music source that you haven’t purchased a right to — this means royalty-free options or public domain or licensed under a creative commons license that allows free usage. (or if you have the money, you can purchase a rights-managed license, which allows for specific usage only. These are often far more expensive.)
If you are working with a website that provides images for free, such as the sxc.hu site listed below, you still need to carefully read the license agreements. While their photos are royalty-free, often times the owner will include a provision of credit or a link to where the picture is being used.
Where To Get Images
There are a host of royalty-free stock photography sites you can visit. Some of those include:
There are also some free options:
Dreamstime also has a free section: http://www.dreamstime.com/free-section.php
And a site that helps you search through the sites: http://www.everystockphoto.com/
However, no matter what source you use, it’s important to pay attention to the license options. With free usage or any “free” works – music or photo, you have to be careful to read the usage agreements that go along with the license. The website sxc.hu gives their specific allowances for usage on their site, but they also indicate that the artist who uploaded the photo may have additional requirements.
So, to summarize, choosing your images isn’t that different from writing the script. The medium may have changed, but the goal is still to find that hidden emotional punch. An image shouldn’t just look pretty…it should work on context with the hidden meanings of your script lines, and hopefully the images will create a continuous, cohesive look from beginning to end.
And as before, please share your scripts, your image thoughts or question below and we’ll discuss through the next week. Next week’s workshop post will be on choosing the music for your video, so stay tuned (no pun intended…)!