Story with Still Images

Telling a short story, with words and still images


We are going to use still images and a voice track to tell a short story.

These will be 30-second spots presenting spoken stories accompanied by still images.

We would like everyday slice-of-life stories; just normal stuff...quirky is OK...normal, made interesting, is good. This might be a friend in the mall food court talking about food or shopping, a shade tree mechanic talking about oil filters, a cook in the kitchen talking about zucchini; or maybe someone talking about a subject that is ironically detached from the environment. For example, a gardener pulling weeds while discussing a childhood memory.

Your task is to find someone willing to be your subject; someone with a story. The goal is to pose your subject in an environment and take a variety of photos to accompany an audio narration.

We will discuss in class the pairing of images and audio.

Three spots from Boom Creative show this method:

An example of this project

The exercise:

You will edit your recordings into a 30-second spot using Adobe Premiere and Audition.

Pre-production (before you record)

You will need a camera and a sound recorder.

The technology to use: we are seeking a low-tech, cinema verité feel, so you can record your audio and photos with a phone. You may use a better camera or recorder if you wish.

We will try out the hardware and software in class.

Locate the subject (talent) for your piece and arrange a time and location to record.

Production (the recording and photography)

You will edit the results into a 30-second spot using Adobe Premiere and Audition.

Suggestion: Record the audio for the story first. This can be an informal chat or interview that is longer than 30 seconds. Your goal is to get the complete story into 30 seconds. You will edit out pauses and extra comments; it is common to ask the subject to repeat a section or the whole story. You can ask for "take one, take two, etc.)

In the examples from Boom, notice the subtle background sound bed. For your story, try to find some ambient sound related to your subject and record at least 30 seconds of it.

After watching this video on framing and composition (, you will be able to compose your photos with an awareness of standard framing setups:

With contents of the interview in mind, take still photos of your subject and environment.

Every situation will be different. You might need to shoot photos first, or record more audio after the photos. Be flexible. Take plenty of variations on the framed shots. You might do several variations; a medium shot and extreme close-up, for example. You will want enough material to work with in “post production”.

Post Production (editing)

Collect your audio and images into named folders.

Start by importing the audio clips into Audition. Listen to them and identify key words that may be edit points. It will help to place cue markers on the clip timeline, and name them.

With a Multitrack session started, drag your clips from the Media Browser bin onto tracks. use the trimming handles to select the good parts and slide them into order on the timeline. We will practice this in class.

When you have the audio completed, you can save the file for use in Premiere. There are at least three ways to do this. Exporting a Multitrack Mixdown, Mixdown session to a new file, or Exporting to Premiere all work.

Your project should be set up as a AVCHD 1080p30 sequence.


These are often done in preproduction, before recording the contents, but they also can be used to organize the raw material after you have edited the sound track.

This template is typical.

You can put in some key words from the audio (you don't have to transcribe every word) to show the alignment of the words and photos.

For this project make a quick (stick people) storyboard of the visuals. Load your images into Bridge to quickly scan for the best choices and note the file names on the storyboard.

Import the images you wish to use and place them on the timeline to complement the audio. Keep the editing simple. Use clean cuts between images.

Notice that Boom Creative used very understated pans, zooms, and parallax effects; you may try these if you wish.

You will export the final spot in a "delivery format", an H264 Vimeo HD 1080p 29.97.

Store these in the appropriate AVA-Classes folder.