The number one gripe I hear from people who view my work online is that they cannot quite grasp the depth of it. Even though I always provide ample detail shots from various angles, a few have been surprised to hear that they are 3-dimensional to begin with! Clearly this is a huge issue for any artist working in the online world, but especially for the ones making anything with physical depth. The natural next step from still images is of course video. Strangely, I haven’t seen many artists use video as a tool for communicating (not counting videos as art themselves). Perhaps art videos are not popular enough and thus seem far and few between. Niche to harness and stand out? We’ll see.
Okay, videos. What kind of videos? I’m thinking product videos where a camera pans all around the well lit artwork looking as desirable as possible. At first something like this sounds a bit dirty and sleazy in an art setting, like an advertisement for a piece of art, but that’s precisely what it is (not the dirty and sleazy bit)! Thinking about it… What is an artist? Very much like an entrepreneur or a small business owner. What are we selling? Products of our labor. When we are selling these products we of course would like to be as accurate and true to life in our sales pitch (photos and text) as possible. If the depth of an artwork is lost in the limitations of a still image, the presentation is severely lacking.
Shaky, unprofessional looking video will not do so I immediately began to imagine some sort of camera holder, track or a gantry. This is what I came up with:
It’s a gantry comprising two copper pipes for a camera sled to ride on, a hollow torsion beam with a weight reducing gas spring and a lead filled pivot block. This allows the camera to rotate in a smooth arc keeping it pointed at the middle of the artwork (or off center if I so choose). It can be tilted up or down and the angle on the slider can be adjusted accordingly. The beam can also be removed from the pivot block to be used as a regular camera slider rail:
(I need another tripod…) I’m very happy with it so far, but there is a few improvements I’ll be making at some point.
As for the results, here’s a video that I’m particularly happy with:
Not as good as it could be, but with an image stabilizing lens (I don’t own one yet) and a few improvements it will be much better. I find the hardest part of filming with this to be the linear motion when shooting closeups. It’s quite difficult to keep the speed steady enough, so it ends up looking a bit jerky. I’m getting better at it though! Maybe I should just motorize the sled…
My goal is to have a new video ready for each new artwork that I post online. Time will tell if this endeavor proves fruitful or not, but I’m having fun either way.