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Tips for Filming in Slow Motion

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 5/20/2010

Here are some tips for creating a slow motion video.

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    Slow Motion Video

    Filming in slow motion is a very specific type of cinematography, mainly because you are not going to capture the image as it actually appears. Instead you are going to end up with a stylized video record that highlights certain aspects while drawing the attention of the audience away from others. You have to prepare for this differently, approaching your video camera and the filmmaking techniques in a specific way. Here are some ways to fashion your shots for slow motion and tips for how to perform this functionally.

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    Slow Motion Frame Rate

    The first thing that you have to remember is that often times you do not want to retain the standard twenty four, twenty five, or thirty frame rate. Instead you may want to up the frame rate, which automatically takes more frames per second and makes the film strip slower. This is easy to do when shooting on 35 mm or 16 mm film, but many digital video cameras will not give you the same frame rate options. Some digital video cameras will already have an automatic slow down option. Never voluntarily shoot below twenty four frames a second if you want slow motion.

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    Movement and Framing

    When filming objects for slow motion you are going to have to make sure you have a good balance between movement and stillness. You definitely want some movement, otherwise it is going to be pointless to put it in slow motion. At the same time, if you have too much competing motion the frame may get awkward and complicated. Finding a few central subjects to provide the motion against or behind stillness is a good balance. You also want to make sure that there is a reason to apply the slow motion in the first place. There are often thematic and dramatic moments that need pause and intense viewing in the audience, and this slow motion can act as an accent for this.

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    Post-Production Slow Motion Effect

    Usually the best choice is going to be adding the slow motion in post-production rather then while filming, whether or not this is with digital video or actual film. The reason for this is because it gives you more options with your film. Here you can also decide exactly how much you want to slow down your film, which is great because then you do not have to rely on the normal slow motion standards. Slow motion does not have to be one thing or the other, so having the control that you do in non-linear video editing software during the post-production process can be an important part of this creative choice.






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