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How to make a short film: Top Tips

Don’t know your GIFs from your AVIs? Don’t let lack of techie know-how hold you back, with AJ’s tips and ideas on filmmaking techniques

The ‘Light Shots’ submissions can be created using any medium including film (Super-8, 16/35mm), video or animation techniques from still images. The only requirement is that the submitted work must be converted into a digital format. We welcome submissions from a wide range of filmmaking techniques and mediums: stop-frame animation, time-lapse photography, single-tracking shots, monochrome, colour, fixed frame, moving camera, landscapes, details, surfaces, fictional spaces and existing spaces. Here are some tips and ideas for accessible filmmaking techniques:

Stop-Motion (Animation Technique)

Stop motion (also known as stop-frame) is an animation technique used to make a manipulated object (physical or digital) appear to move on its own. The object is moved in small increments between individually photographed frames, creating the illusion of movement when the frames are played as a continuous sequence. The sequence of resultant images can be animated simply using a programme such as Windows Movie Maker, iMovie, Photoshop or QuickTime Player or with a more advanced editing programme such as Final Cut Pro.

Animated Gif (Animation Technique)

Originating from the pre-broadband days of the 1980’s, animated gifs, defined as a few frames of video looped, are as popular as ever.  At a time when we are increasingly inundated with high-definition moving images, the animated GIF breaks down the movement of the image into a few recognisable frames. GIF’s are normally used for simpler images such as graphics or logos with solid areas of colour. There are many free websites for creating gifs and they can be created easily in programmes such as Photoshop using the Animation tool.

Time Lapse Photography

Time-lapse photography is a technique in which the film footage is viewed at a higher frame rate than the original frame rate of filming, thereby appearing to ‘speed up’ when viewed at normal speed. Often shot using a fixed frame to achieve consistency, Godfrey Reggio’s, ‘Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance’ (1982) is a classic example of this technique. A time-lapse effect can also be created from photographic stills, taken at intervals and animated using a stop-frame technique.

Video painting

Video painting is a fairly recent name for an old idea. Key conventions of the medium are a fixed camera frame and no dialogue or sound. The footage is presented unedited and unmanipulated, comprising of a single shot.

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