Using Supers to Help Tell Your Story

Consider this opening sequence. A telephoto shot of scorched desert sand with rippling heat distorting the scene. Dry, desiccated, lifeless sagebrush. A lizard slowly seeking shade beneath a small stone. And a small plume of dust in the distance. Attention-getting stuff.

Now a narrator intones, "The summer heat beats down on the Bonneville Salt Flats." Effective. But what might work better is a super (onscreen text). Something such as "Bonneville Salt Flats." Then, as the plume of dust moves toward the camera, add another super: "Speed Trials?Summer 2002." Then a rocket-shaped vehicle screams through the scene.

Rather than interrupt the building suspense with a dulcet-toned narrator, save him for later. Instead, simply slap on a couple supers to set up your story.

Here are a couple other sample instances where text can be an effective alternative to voiceovers:

  • Instead of using a voiceover to say "John Jones, president of the XYZ Association for the Preservation of Salient Sayings." Put that information in a super at the bottom of the screen.

  • Instead of simply saying a collection of statistics, such as 12 drummers drumming, 11 pipers piping, 10 lords a-leaping, and so on, use a collection of bulleted points that you pop onscreen with each new numbered item. If you have small graphic images of each element, you can add them along with the text.

Text strengthens your project.

    Part II: Enhancing Your Video