Lighting and video slateHow to make a video that works — sounds much easier than it really is.

I’ve watched many companies make videos that don’t do the job intended. Their motivational videos don’t motivate. Their training videos don’t train. Their sales videos don’t sell. They’ve spent anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000 to create this product — how can the product fail?

What’s worse — many companies don’t realize that their expensive new video doesn’t work.

Why all this confusion in a highly media-driven culture?

Because we enjoy media but we don’t understand it.

Ninety-eight percent of U.S. households own a television set, and 50% watch at least 4 hours of it a day. The average person watches 20,000 commercials in a year, children more so than adults. (A.C. Nielsen) The average person watches one to two hundred movies a year.

Meanwhile, we all watch “other videos” such as instruction, training, persuasive (fundraising), and more.

Every year, businesses spend more than $700 billion on training products for internal and external use, most of which are videos. Hollywood spends about $70 billion to make feature films each year.

Still, most of us don’t understand the mechanisms behind the curtain of the moving image.


A question of language

The first answer is language. Moving images are most often composed of two highly interdependent languages — the visual and the aural.

Visual language is complex. Every day, we rely on our eyes for 85 percent of the information we process[1]—we remember what we see in our dreams more than we remember smells or tastes; we remember what our day looked like more than we recall the temperature of the water; we remember the faces and expressions of people we speak with more often than we remember their names or what they said.

Most of us remember but a fraction of what we hear. Moments after listening, we can’t remember a song’s pitch, the rhythm of a Shakespearean sonnet, or even two sentences in their entirety.

The visual and the aural languages should produce a third language — the video or film itself — that communicates more than the sum of its parts. In other words, only by listening and watching will we understand a product’s full message.

Understanding video and film production

The second answer to why we aren’t all experts in media communication is that no one has properly taught us the elements of storytelling. You can read every book about Hollywood film production and you still won’t get it until you work at it for years and years yourself.

The world of corporate video is different. I believe that if you understand your options and how best to work with the professionals you hire, you will be happier with the products you get.

And that’s why I want you to keep visiting and revisiting my blogs. Thirty-plus years in the business has taught me something, and I want to share it with you.


Video 101: Make a video that works

by susan time to read: 2 min

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