Ball Art

Ball Art is an award-winning short film by Tom Nichols. Tom was inspired to make the film after seeing other examples of kinetic typography online. Although he was impressed by these, Tom decided to take a more novel approach to the form, blending it with documentary film so that his viewers would learn something by watching it. “I’d seen a couple of other videos using this technique,” he said. “If I had something that people could learn from that would make more interesting.”

Making a short film about the manufacture of Kookaburra cricket balls was an easy decision. Tom was already familiar with the process because his grandfather, Rob Elliot, is managing director of the company.

“I am lucky that the interview subject is actually my grandpa,” said Tom. “I think it also helped that I already knew most of the process so it was like me teaching the audience rather than teaching myself and the audience at the same time which is harder to do.”

Tom used his knowledge of the manufacturing process to storyboard his film. He had a clear sense of what he was going to shoot before he arrived on location. Careful planning meant that Tom came away with an abundance of footage. “I ended up creating a huge amount more shots than I actually used and I think when it came to editing and compressing the film down I felt a lot more confident,” he said.

When it came to shooting his film, Tom decided to use a Canon 5D Mark II with a 100mm f/2.8 macro lens that he obtained through his VCE Media teacher Jess Rottura. This enabled him to achieve very shallow depth of field, giving the short film a polished, film-like quality.

When approaching their films, Tom encourages students to be organised and get stated early. ““The best advice that I can give is to start early and film as soon as possible!” he said. “I filmed for only one day on the first Monday of the mid-year holidays and then spend six weeks editing and refining the visual effects.”

Tom completed his initial edit in Adobe Premiere CS5 before taking the resulting footage into Adobe After Effects. “I then spent the remaining six weeks in AE working through each individual shot,” he said.

When he finished, Tom took the time to consider the length and pacing of his video to ensure it was engaging for his audience. “The original film was seven minutes and thirty seconds,” he said. “After cutting out the parts where the interview repeated slightly or they were not as interesting facts i just cut it out, the film eventually got down to six minutes.”

Tom confesses that the film could have been edited down further. “You have to be ruthless with your film and cut out the excess and your film will look a lot more professional,” he said.

Tom encourages anyone thinking of creating kinetic typography to allow plenty of time for rendering the final product. Ball Art took almost eight hours to render. When you consider there were almost twenty three drafts of the film, that’s a substantial amount of time. “I found the best way was to render while I slept or did other homework,” he said.

When it comes to making a short film and managing your other studies, Tom recommends being highly organised. “I did three folio subjects in Year 12,” he said. “So I had a fair bit of work to do.” To ensurer he wasn’t swamped by work, Tom used his holidays to get projects like his film well underway.

He also encourages students to choose something that they’re genuinely interested in: “Use something that you know well and put the effort in and you will be rewarded.”

Since completing Ball Art, Tom has gone onto create some other impressive kinetic typography, including this music video for Adele’s ‘Rumour Has It’.