Simple techniques to build a visual language, one screen at a time.
Archive & Library – NowThis‘s use of stock footage, still photography and minimal typography are effective ingredients in micro-length documentary.
Sound Design – the secret weapon of editing picture is sound. Pitchfork’s Liner Notes series breathes further life into its static visual elements (still photographs, hand-drawn graphics, film clutter) with audio elements (voice over, audio samples of a slide projector).
Nesting – Röyksopp’s ‘Eple’ features only (gorgeous) still photographs, and uses only scale and position (with a little nesting) to dizzying effect.
Nesting & Repetition
Introducing Details – the way we move between slides can be energetic in itself. Then within each slide, we can nest moving parts, creating more visual interest overall. Visually, the more we copy/paste or re-use the same elements (eg same background, font, text size, colours), the better:
Foreground to Background – kaptainkristian pulls together an eclectic range of visual elements – ink drawings, paintings, photographs, press clippings, vector graphics and more – and he uses these elements to transition between eachother, introducing and elaborating on ideas along the way:
Typography – Ahoy sidesteps the computer altogether to edit together this research video, instead printing out stills (perhaps onto paper, possibly onto transparent acetate?), which he then slides in and out of frame by hand. These slides could even have been a detailed storyboard, which feature strong typography and design aesthetics. Together with well-scripted voiceover narration, ‘The First Video Game’ maintains visual interest throughout its one-hour runtime:
Abstract symbols – the more complex the ideas, the simpler the symbols used to represent them. Mental health, medication and research individually are never complete or fixed, and together intersect in ever-shifting ways, as elegantly conveyed in this abstract animation on bipolar disorder by Uncle Ginger for TedEd:
Reframing – Nerdwriter‘s video essay on Art Speigelman’s Maus focuses on just one page of the iconic graphic novel, using colour and line to emphasise words and panel details, and interpolating other sources into the comic page’s existing framework:
Real-time Visual Processing
Mediation & Complication – why not bring the viewer on the journey with you? In Max Cooper – Waves (Official Video), Kevin McGloughlin introduces a simple enough visual, then explores its geometric and harmonic possibilities through meticulous nesting and repetition:
If you master the language, your ideas won’t be limited to plugins and tutorials.