Getting Started With Slow Motion in Your Video Content
When we approach video content, we aspire to create media that is as cinematic as possible. We take lessons from film and apply them to all sorts of different kinds of video content suited to any project. There’s no doubt that one of the best ways to invoke that feeling of cinema or watching a motion picture is to use one of its greatest tools: slow motion!
Consider any of your favorite movies and think back to some of their climactic scenes. It’s likely that many of them come to a head in vivid slow-mo! There’s no better way to showcase your stuff or feature an awesome new product than by incorporating those same techniques into our video content. With that in mind, we have put our years of video content creation experience to work putting together this comprehensive guide on how to get started with making exceptional slow-motion video content today!
Understanding Slow Motion
There are many applications for slow motion, but that doesn’t mean you want to use it for every scene or every video. As such, you’ll first want to consider your own need within the content you’re creating. It also may affect the structure of the video you’re making, so it is important to weave in this thinking as you begin to brainstorm an idea.
Let’s consider some examples of when we might be able to take advantage of slow-motion videography. One obvious case is to highlight a new product or piece of technology through a slow-motion panorama or reveal. Through slow-mo, we can highlight specific details on the product in beautiful fashion. Another instance might be to intensify an action sequence we are using in a new commercial. Don’t limit yourself to just advertising, slow motion is also quite useful for things like step by step, how-to videos and livens up documentaries, and biographical footage.
Another important consideration is the quality level you hope to achieve. Simply put, there are two main ways of achieving slow-motion footage. The easy, low-quality method is to simply use an editing program to slow your content down without changing anything about how you shoot. Your mileage may vary, but this typically results in a choppy and unattractive product. The real way to shoot for slow motion is to shoot in what is called a “high frame rate” on camera gear equipped to do so at high resolutions. Footage shot at a higher frame rate has, as the name would suggest, more frames in every second of recording so shots will look smoother and more vivid when slowed down.
Planning Your Shoot
Once you’ve decided to create some fantastic slow-motion content, the real work begins. The first priority should of course be the gear you will use. If you’re striving for quality, you’ll want to select a camera powerful enough to shoot at a high frame rate (ideally up to 60-120fps) at a sufficiently high resolution (at minimum 1080p but even up to 2-4k for cinema, broadcasting, and more). It also behooves you to choose a solid lens with lots of aperture stops to finely adjust your exposure.
Beyond the camera, a tripod may likely also be necessary to reduce noise and shakiness that will be compounded when your footage is slowed. Lights may also be needed to control exposure, like any other professional shoot. You may also find bright daylight even more frustrating, so attachable lens filters or light dampeners may be required.
In video, every detail is critical because it’s all on camera. When your footage is two or three times as slow, that fact is two or three times more important. It is essential that you consider these details more carefully on set than you normally might. If highlighting a product, make sure it is in perfect condition from all angles. Don’t forget about your background, especially if in a public place. When viewing slowed footage, it is much easier to be distracted by background clutter.
Up until now, you haven’t actually done anything in slow motion. That changes once your footage is complete and loaded into your editing bay. Most video editors make it very easy to do this regardless of system and generally follow much of the same breakdowns. Once your clips are loaded into your timeline, you will want to highlight it and find the “Retime” protocol in your software. Then simply hit it’s “auto” option or manually retime to 24, 30, or whatever fps you desire.
Here is where you can also add a little more magic if you like. One common flourish in cinema that is done solely through editing is crafting content that jumps between slow motion and regular speed, back and forth. You may remember this from your favorite action or adventure movie during a fight scene or car chase. Feel free to experiment like this with your slow motion content however you like! But be careful not to overuse, as content like this can feel cheap and overdone just as easily.