By now you’ve probably seen them ― those fun, often fantastical outfit change videos on social media that at times leave us thinking “How did they do that?”
Increasingly popular on apps like TikTok and Instagram’s Reel, these kinds of transition videos are a specialty of content creator and queen of all things colorful Courtney Quinn. Quinn, who goes by Color Me Courtney, has applied her personal spin to videos for years, starting with stop motion clips on Instagram.
Today, Quinn shares her colorful content ― filled with enviable seamless transitions ― with 771,000 followers. And she’s sharing how she does it with us.
Transition videos are short ― typically around 15 seconds ― but without the proper prep, you could be looking at a much, much longer filming time. To make the filming process “go really easily,” Quinn recommends starting with a clear vision, nailing down the story you want to tell first.
“Pick the clear story ― for example, how to take this dress from summer to fall,” she said. “Pick your song ahead of time. Recently I did a video trying on different lip gloss colors and was like, of course I’m going to use the lip gloss song, what else would I use? [laughs] There’s some behind-the-scenes footage of me singing it while filming, but it helps because it keeps you in time, it keeps you from over-shooting.”
Quinn typically focuses on fashion as a baseline but adds her own special flair. “I look for other value points, whether it’s ― I hate to say comedy because I’m not comedic, but I’ll make a fool of myself or do something relatable that makes people laugh in some way alongside a teachable fashion moment with color and positivity. Having those benchmarks and boxes to check off before I even get in front of the camera makes the shooting process really seamless.”
Once you’ve figured out the what, it’s time to figure out the how.
Having the right tools is helpful in creating a seamless transition video, but you don’t need to work with anything fancy.
“I think my number one biggest pet peeve when watching these videos is a camera that’s not sturdy, so I absolutely recommend using a tripod,” Quinn said. “It can even be a makeshift one set up against a water bottle. When I am using something like that, I film continuously and edit down later because if I touch it slightly and it moves, you can tell.”
The same awareness should be applied to the lighting in the video. Quinn recommends trying to use natural light but making sure the lighting remains consistent. “If the natural light changes so much between transitions, that can be jarring and take you out of it.”
Find Your Center
Part of what makes an outfit change video so fun to watch is the illusion of literally jumping from one outfit to another, so your placement is super important.
“I don’t want to move my feet much, so I line up my outfits on the floor just out of frame where I can reach them and change so I’m not moving that much,” she said.
Often times, Quinn shoots videos up close, hiding her feet. Then she can wear slippers during filming. When she needs to step away to change, fix makeup or use the bathroom, she just slips out of and back into the slippers. “My ‘feet’ stay exactly where they were and I know I’m in the exact same spot,” she said.
For beginners, Quinn suggests centering the transition around motion.
“That’s usually the way to make it most successful and seamless,” she said. “For example, if your transition is going to be a jump, you want to create the motion both in the before look and the after. If you’re jumping from a red outfit to a blue outfit, jump in both.”
If you try to truncate the move in one outfit, you won’t be able to line up your two clips seamlessly.
Quinn also recommends editing your videos in apps that offer more control than Instagram or TikTok. “You’re not penalized for editing outside the app on either platform, and you can line up the jumps perfectly,” she said.
She uses apps like Adobe Rush and VLLO, but said you can also use iMovie or simply trim the videos in your camera roll before uploading to your profile.
Focus On The Bigger Picture
People may focus on nailing the transition, but the beginning and end of the video are just as important, Quinn said.
“The coolest videos I’ve seen are ones that loop in some way,” she said. “So line up the beginning and the end in addition to the transition. If you start with a blank screen and slide in, show the look, jump into the next look and slide out, it creates an illusion of a revolving door, and it takes people some time to realize it ended. Watch time is an important metric, and this can help increase that.”
Remember ― This is FUN
The social media landscape is currently saturated with transition videos of all kinds. If you want to make yours pop, Quinn has some tricks for that, too.
“The more you can bring your own personal story and personality to these, the more unique it’s going to be,” she said. “Just doing these transitions, as a viewer, it’s not enough. I want to see your specific story and personality. Those are the ones that stand out to me.”
Armed with these tips and tricks, I attempted my own transition video, using Quinn’s “summer to fall dress” as a guideline. Check it out for yourself below, and to see more colorful content, follow Quinn on Instagram.