Harnessing the smartphone's ability to impart motion and dynamism to objects
I have coined a term, "swipescaping" to describe an experimental technique I have used in some of my micro short films. The technique makes use of the phone's extreme mobility, which in my experience gives the device a unique ability to impart motion and dynamism to inanimate objects. I used swipescaping in the film "Deathbed Regrets," an experimental film that has received several official festival selections as well as a nomination for Best Short Documentary.
Swipescaping is a blend of art installation and technology. Essentially, you arrange objects of interest, ones that contribute to the story, in a way that makes sense to your artistic instincts. This can involve placing them in certain groupings, and altering elements such as proximity of one object to another, lighting and other traditional aspects of cinematography. The objects chosen might be old photos, coins, other mementos, bits of clothing, food, maps - whatever supports the story in your artistic judgement.
Once arranged, you use the smartphone or similar miniature video device to take the viewer on a guided tour of the installation, as if they were viewing it from a tiny airplane. The power of this technique lies in timing the motion of the camera, which can move in and out, linger, circle back, speed up or slow down in ways that will visually support the narrative arc of the film. By leading the viewer on this tour, you can bring dynamism to a static display. A photo or other static object appears to move as the camera hovers over it like a hummingbird.
I recently used swipescaping in the film "Fragments of Paris," making use of the visual journey in both filming and post editing to support the narrative arc of the story. This is a bit of a departure from some of my other micro short films which have been driven to some extent by the video footage from filmable found situations, with the narrative being adapted to the visual. Swipescaping lends itself to the visual journey being driven from the narrative perhaps to a greater extent.
Here are a few thoughts to help you explore swipescaping as an experimental technique:
I hope you find this technique interesting and useful. Have fun with it!
Robert David Duncan, award-winning director, actor, writer and producer with a passionate interest in art, storytelling and the whole amazing journey called life. Founder of Fat Punk Productions Ltd. and Festival Director of the Miniature Film Festival.