photo of Videomaker Founder and CEO, Matthew York

Lines blur when we talk about photography and videography these days. Video cameras can shoot stills, still cameras can shoot video. But even still, we can also create moving images without them being video. Confused? Way before this blurring of lines video was produced without shooting a series of real life action sequences on film, tape or digitally.

Enter stop-motion, used not only in photo montages but to create video sequences that illustrate a remarkable sense of natural motion. There are 3D creations, even training instructional and educational videos compiled of drawings, graphics or simply just written, animated, words. When is video not video? The short answer is never.

There are a host of programs, stand-alone and Internet-based, that offer the opportunity to take a group of select photographs, incorporating movement and creative action sequences that, when all is said and done, generate a moving presentation. Well, one that moves but often one that inspires and spurs us all to attempt our own creative production without using frames of live action video shot with a camcorder.

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The idea is by no means new. Look at the bounty of original cartoons created by such companies like Disney over the years. Each shot as one stand-alone image at a time. Each a single illustration, an artist’s drawing – a cell, that is then recorded individually over a series of cells and timed to simulate movement when all are put together. Motion is created, or a sense of it, thus a movie or video is created.

This production put together by Olympus, celebrating 50 years of the company’s Pen still camera, is video that’s not video. Or, check out this one, a music video created entirely from 45,000 photos taken with a Nikon D200. No, really, it’s not video. And we should see two more, the Human Skateboard and human TETRIS, both using individual shots to create a video.

Videomaker offers a tutorial on achieving a video production without video in 4 Simple Steps for Professional Stop Motion Light Painting, yet another facet of creating video that is not video. Many programs offer options for either creating your stop motion or other creative movement sequence not only from photographic images but just about anything from hand drawings, to South Park-type images or only a group of specific fonts.

On the other hand, video is not necessarily always video, especially when the desired effect is to take live action sequences over a period of time and break them down to generate a time-lapse photography effect.

Video without video can be challenging, fun and a unique way to expand our storytelling abilities using still images, a bit of planning and organizing, some patience as well as the time to do the job.

The volume and quality of such work out there is mind-boggling. Skills and creativity levels set the bar high but any videographer looking for a way to tell a story and having to do it without the help of a camera that shoots live video footage can still get the message across. A good selection of do-it-yourself animated video tools are available for free or fee, stand-alone or on the Internet. All you need are a bunch of photos, graphic images, some clay, toys or holiday decorations and the patience to see what can come out of your creative hat.

Matthew York is Videomaker's Publisher/Editor.