posted by George Pursall

Let me be Graphic

What elements do you need to make a great film?

There are a multitude of answers to that question but I'll go out in a limb and say that you only really need two key ingredients. First of all, you need a great story or powerful message, something vital which you want to share with your audience. Secondly, and this is key, you need to be able to tell that story in a clear and powerful manner to ensure that your story, your message, hits home. If you know what you want to say and how you want to say it, then everything else should fall into place. Right? 

Well, the next big question is, how do you ensure that your film's message is conveyed clearly and powerfully? Here, obvious answers spring to mind. First of all, your film needs to be well shot. That one is obvious. Secondly, you need to have good sound. For a visual medium, it never ceases to amaze me how dramatically bad sound can ruin a film - quite simply, you cannot get away with it. Thirdly you need, well, what else do you need? You've got your story or message, you know exactly how you want to tell it and you've just hired some of the best camera and sound people in the business - surely that's everything!

Or is it?

What about graphics?

We see graphics everyday, from subtle, expensive almost unnoticeable CGI in Hollywood films to far more unmissable examples, such as a name strap that appears in a documentary to an 'info-graphic' that appears on the evening news. Text can even be spotted hanging in the air around the actors in TV period dramas. The utilisation of graphics has become ubiquitous, but just how important are they when it comes to helping you convey your message to your audience? 

The great things about graphics is that their potential is so vast - they can be deployed in so many different ways, in such a wide variety of manners, that sometimes it is difficult to know where to begin! However, let us take a corporate film as an example to see how a subtle and effective use of graphics can help to elevate it.

Say you have a film that has been made to help promote a new company. The film has already been beautifully shot, the sound is perfect and the message, clear and precise, has been brilliantly conveyed. But what about the beginning of the film? Would it be effective to have your company logo appear at the beginning for more impact? Could it be tastefully animated onto the screen to add a dramatic flourish? Wouldn't that hook an audience in far more effectively?

What if the rather bland shadow and text used for name straps were replaced with an animated background that used the company's colours and design atheistic? Then, there is that moment in the film where the CEO lists all the things that the company plans to do in the next year - wouldn't those points be really driven home if we could also see them appear on screen as well? Then there is that wonderful tracking shot that took an hour to set up and film. The editor has used that shot as a member of staff lists the key words that sum up the company. How much more involving would that shot be if those key words, once more designed to match the company brand and atheistic, also appeared on screen and moved with the camera? Wouldn't that help elevate an already powerful message to the next, glossier level?

Because that is what graphics really offer, to the film maker, to the business, to the storyteller - the elevation of your message to ensure that what you want to say is delivered with maximum efficiency, style and impact.

Of course, the use of graphics has to be judicious; the use of too many visual fireworks doesn't help sell the message so much as swamp it. Their utilisation has to be carefully considered and deployed in order to eke out every last bit of marketing and storytelling potential from your film.

Yet, those two initial key points will always, to my mind, remain. To make a great film, you need to have a clear message, and you have to tell that story, deliver that message, as clearly and as powerfully as possible. If you don't have that great message, great graphics cannot help you any more than beautiful camera work or brilliantly recorded sound can in creating an effective and memorable film.

Yet when all these elements come together - message, camerawork, sound and graphics - their impact can be formidable.

Here at Sparkly Light, we help you deliver that impact to your audience.

The only question is, what story do you want to tell?