Whether it’s a TV commercial, web video, or part of a presentation, your video needs to grab the viewer’s attention. The key to making sure your video leaves the right impression is to captivate and engage the audience. Presenting viewers with an unusual or unexpected perspective is a great way to do this. Slow-motion footage is one tool in the cameraman’s box that can be used to accomplish this objective.
Typical video plays back at either 30 or 24 frames per second (fps). With our Sony FS700, we can shoot at 240fps, achieving a playback speed 8-10 times slower than real-time playback. The Sony FS700 is one of the few cameras on the market that can shoot over 200 frames per second, and, consequently, it provides an extremely unique final product.
Here are a few projects we’ve done lately than have used slow-motion footage to great effect.
Monroe Pothole PSA
Slow-motion footage is great for highlighting details in a sequence of events that happen quickly. One of our recent clients wanted us to shoot video that would demonstrate the damaging effects potholes have on vehicles. As jarring as hitting a pothole can be for a driver, the accompanying visual just wasn’t as jarring or as impressive as we needed it be for our purposes.
Then we set up the FS700 to shoot slow-motion and the look changed completely. You could see the car’s tire smashing into the pothole, and the suspension struggling to keep up. Overall, we got a much better impression of what was happening to the vehicle as it hit the pothole. Slow-motion completely transformed what would have been a fairly run-of-the-mill video into something intriguing.
107.3 The Wave – Listen at Work
In this TV commercial for 107.3 The Wave, we wanted to convey the idea that listening to The Wave takes you away from your hectic day and allows you to relax. We show the “main character” as somewhat disconnected from the craziness happening behind her, but we also highlight that craziness in order to create a high level of contrast. Shooting in slow-motion creates this juxtaposition quite naturally; despite the multiple areas of action within the frame, slow-motion footage gives the viewer an opportunity to explore every corner of the frame – all within a mere 10 seconds.
We first shot the scene at 30fps, but at that speed, the on-camera movement is much more hectic, making the action more difficult to follow. Your eyes don’t know where to look, and by the time you get your bearings, the spot is over. This is another example of slow-motion footage turning a run-of-the-mill video into something much more engaging.
Automotive Parts Internal Video
We shot an internal marketing video for a major national auto parts supplier that made great use of slow-motion footage. (Since it is an internal video, we are only able to show this clip of it rather than the entire video). The idea behind the script is that 2 “car guys” come into the store, one after another, and each is stunned by the beautiful and knowledgeable saleswoman (played perfectly by Bridget Linton) working the counter. We avoid showing Bridget during her interaction with Car Guy #1 in order to build some tension before Car Guy #2 enters the store about a minute into the video. When we finally reveal her, we really punctuate the moment by using slow-motion footage; its use makes the entire video work.
Save the Dream Ohio
Slow-motion footage is frequently used in movies to increase the dramatic tension of a moment, and its use does exactly that in this opening shot of our commercial for Save the Dream Ohio. The slow motion footage, in concert with the music, lighting, and talents’ facial expressions, really sells how hopeless they feel their situation is. Halfway through the spot, the shots change back to regular speed and the music becomes much more upbeat. This is a significant contrast from the first half of the video. The client really wants viewers to believe that no matter how bad their current situation is, Save the Dream Ohio can help. The slow-motion really helps emphasize the contrast between the two sections, and it wouldn’t play nearly as well in regular speed.
These 4 videos illustrate how slow-motion footage can increase production value and create a much more engaging video. If it is overused, however, the effect will lose impact. (We know this from experience; the first month we had the FS700, everything was shot in slow-motion!). As you’re working through ideas for your next project, think about how slow-motion footage might be useful to highlight or exaggerate a moment. It might help bring the final product together and create a video both unique and engaging for your target audience.