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23rd February 2021

Motion Masterclass: Five steps to video success 

We are now living through a revolution of visual culture, coined by some as the age of the image.

There were more photos taken in the last 60 seconds than were created in the 19th century, and these images have quickly become an integral part of our daily lives and the way we communicate. 

Moving image has evolved over the last century as the medium has become a tool for us to make sense of the world, to make our experiences meaningful and to tell our stories. 

Visual storytelling is at the core of our work at Silver. In this blog post I’ll take you behind the scenes to show the creative process behind our Motion team. I’ll take you through the four stages of our creative process that help us come up with ideas, find inspiration, and design visual stories for our animations and videos. 

 

Step 1: Ideation – It all starts with an idea

Here at Silver it all starts with the concept. Usually, this involves brainstorming creative metaphors and symbols to explain abstract concepts. The trick here is to try to take complicated ideas or messages and make them simple and relatable. 

Animation helps us do this. Animation gives you a platform to take big problems and simplify them into understandable visual stories. With animation you generate the images yourself, so there are none of the constraints that come with conventional filmmaking, not even the laws of gravity can keep you down. 

The tech world is a great example of where this is especially true. For many, data is an abstract concept that is hard to comprehend. In this piece below for Dell Technologies Powerstorewe designed a 3D world which represented their next generation data storage appliance as a thriving city. By drawing parallels between the infrastructure of a city and the infrastructure of Dells storage appliance, we illustrated Dellvision of how their data infrastructure will accelerate digital transformation into the data era. 

 

Step 2: Storyboarding – Defining the story

The storyboarding process is where the sequence starts to take shape. Don’t be afraid to throw lots of ideas at the page. It is important to remember that storyboarding is a refinement process and it doesn’t hurt to start with crude sketches in a notebook.  

Once you have your ideas on the page, you can look across the piece to see where parts of the story are missing or you are overcomplicating things. You can also look across the scenes to ensure you have a cohesive visual style.

Below are a few screenshots from a video series, ‘The Science of Storage’. For this series we produced 12 episodes as an educational piece for Dell Technologies to combat the myths of data storage. Storyboarding was essential because we wanted to keep things coherent across the series whilst creating standalone videos that offered unique environments and messaging.  

 

Step 3: Editing – The mosaic of time

 When it comes to video, editing can make or break your output. In February of 1977, Steven Spielberg & Brian De Palma were invited to watch the rough cut of their friend George Lucas new film, Star Wars. It was a mess. Brian De Palma’s reaction was to say, “I don’t mean to sound harsh, but… what is this s**t?” 

 They had to go back to the drawing board and Lucas’ team of editors, spearheaded by Marcia Lucas, had to strip everything apart and add clarity, tension and drama to bring out the amazing world that George Lucas had shot with Star Wars. 

For me this is an important lesson. Firstly, it reminds me that mistakes are natural and part of the process. Secondlyeffective editing is essential to engaging your audience in the story.  

Below is a fast paced sequence that we built for MediaKindWe didn’t have any video footage to use for this project, so we had to take stock imagery and footage and make it personal and engaging. We edited this carefully so that the placement of images came together at the right pace to become more than the sum of their parts. Utilising stock footage is always a challenge but it’s an exercise in creative editing to tell a story. 

 

Step 4: Post production – A universe of sound

 In terms of animation, post production is arguably one of the most overlooked elements of the process but at the same time the most important. Sound design is what really brings your film to life and it is important to remember to give yourself the time and care needed to fully round off your project.  

 Below are a few screenshots from a series for Dell Technologies: Partner Pursuits – Marketing discovery with Scout Wilder. In this video you see our main character move through different landscapes to represent a movement in space and time. In order to bring these environments alive, we needed a dynamic soundscape that changed as we moved through environments. For the desert we found an arid wind sound. For the jungle we built a soundscape of birds and creatures. For the cave we sourced an eerie, reverberating sound which captured the feeling of the space. 

Step 5: And that’s a wrap!

 Finally, you get to share what you’ve created with the world. There will be highs and lows along the process, but just remember that filmmaking is a collaborative process and it takes a team to tell a good story.  

 The Oscars with the “Best Director” style categories like to reduce filmmaking down to single individuals, but this misrepresents the creative process. Had George Lucas not consulted friends for advice, and had his wife Marcia not stepped in with her team of editors, Star Wars as we know it would not exist today.  

 You’d be surprised at the complex messages and stories you can tell engagingly with moving images. I’m constantly impressed by the creativity of my team here at Silver in what they come up with for our clients.

For more of our work check out our video showreel below.

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