Filming words – the Wellcome Trust Book Prize


The Wellcome Trust has an annual book prize, which means an annual challenge of how to present the shortlisted books in an engaging way both online and at various related events. A video might seem like an obvious thing to do, but it does run the risk of just being a lot of talking heads going on about books, with not much else to look at. I tried to get around this by making the books themselves the stars, using the Sony EX1’s fairly decent macro capabilities to get really close-up shots of them.

I tried out all kinds of pans, tilts and moves on the books, handheld and not, but found that focus pulls on the tripod or with the camera rested on the books worked the best, drawing the eye along the words. Other moves tended to show a bit of judder, especially with all those lines.

The shots were all slightly wobbly, especially where I was just leaning the camera on the book to keep it steady, but Final Cut’s smoothcam feature worked very well here to sort this out. It doesn’t always work, but in this case it came through. I then used the “light rays” filter, on the lowest settings, to deliberately blow out the whites a bit. I use this effect quite a lot when I want to give something a slightly dreamy/glossy look. I should probably get Magic Bullet though, right?

The film got a lot of positive feedback, so I’m very pleased with how it came out in the end. The music is from Audio Network, as usual.