In honor of having very little time to contribute these past couple weeks, I have some films that take very little time to watch.
5-Second Films, was the brain child of Brian Firenzi and maintained by a group of collaborators in Southern California for a five-year run of daily videos. It’s exactly what it sounds like. The films take five seconds, not counting a two-second intro title and one-second “The End” final card, though films occasionally take advantage of that final second with an additional sound effect or line bleeding over it.
There’s an inherent restriction in making a short film. If you go on too long, it’s not a short film anymore. But beyond a vaguely-defined 40-60 minute limit, you’ve got a lot of latitude for pacing your story. 5-Second Films create an incredibly strict restriction on the time limit and make that restriction known from the outset. What this costs the films in breadth and depth is made up for in a measure of control over the expectations for an idea which must make itself clear, blossom, and die in the time most films allot for their opening title. A part of us marvels at the way successful ones can subvert our expectations barely a moment after we form them.
The effect is not unlike a moving comic strip. The joke might only take a single “panel.”
A multi-panel effect is achieved through editing, where the final panel reveals the gag…
…builds on the conceit…
…or sometimes is just a reaction shot tagging the punchline.
Also like comic panels, the edits can play with time or space or both. The humor can come from the content of the panels (shots) or from our brains filling in the content between panels (shots).
My favorites, though, are the ones that rely on both the video medium and the time compression. This is me, every day (language warning):
And here’s one you won’t see in the funny pages: