So for this posting I’d like to talk about what works, and contrarily what does not work well in videos. This topic is complicated by one small fact – there are about 7 billion opinions on what is good and what isn’t when it comes to watching motion on screens.

That said, we can look just a little at target audiences to get a better sense of what kinds of images, style and pacing. Most of this is just good common sense

[which I don’t find that common these days].

If you’re creating a wedding video, for example, you want to ‘read’ the type of client you’re working for to get a sense of how tame or wild they might want the viewing experience to be. If the idea is to build an ‘elegant’ video, steady camera work, slow dissolves and some slow motion shots, a pace that doesn’t mind sitting on the same shot for a while, etc. are good things.

In contrast, if your wedding client likes extreme sports [and their parents just want what the younger folks want], you’ll want quicker cuts, antics, funny faces, extreme camera angles and similar touches which create a lot of energy, but in terms of elegance, not so much.

And that’s just with wedding content. For corporate sales and marketing, there needs to be a similar sensibility about what your client thinks is best, and what your client’s customers are going to find compelling. This is especially true if there’s a call to action at the end [hurry, these items are going fast!].

MTV ushered in [or leveraged] a trend where quick edits and discontinuous visuals became the norm, often showing us imagery that wasn’t designed to feel cohesive. Of course their audience is/was young, and their management knew that wild shots and quick edits would hold these young eyes. Eventually that prominent trend joined a host of other techniques, but some of you will recall how ‘Video killed the Radio Star’ back in the early 1980s.

A key point to recognize is that we humans love movement – it’s in our DNA from a very long evolution of scouting for food and keeping watch for safety. So, this simple visual stimulation is important. But of course it’s not the only kind of stimulation that’s important to understand.

Folks are also stimulated by thoughts, emotions and those ‘aha’ ideas that change one’s perspective. Which is why we find so many movies and TV shows today that work to provide lots of visual movement, scenes that challenge your thinking and especially tap into your emotions.

Any good sales type will explain how we love to think we make decisions based on our thinking, and yet in truth it’s the emotional content of what we’re experiencing that truly indicates how our decisions will be made. And so it is emotional content, perhaps more than anything else, that drives ‘What Works’.

Understanding how we humans relate to each other and our environment helps us understand how we consume video as well, which is why so much research is done with new movies anymore to see how audiences react to this or that. And while you likely can’t afford a focus group for your next project, you can certainly afford to think about how your audience will react to your efforts – and your video will be all the stronger for it!

Jim Prues