I have a recurring problem as a corporate filmmaker, which is about focusing clients on what they need to say in the shortest amount of time on screen. I’m repeating the same process and decided to use a film reference, Groundhog Day. I’m in the filmmaking industry, after all.
AI like ChatGPT is seeping into our video production industry like it is in every other sector. Should I be scared? Well, to find out, here’s a blog written by myself compared to an AI.
Life, like making videos, is all about focus.
You can fix most things in video production – exposure, shaky camera work, colour balance, and various other things, but out-of-focus video sticks out like a sore thumb. It can’t be corrected afterwards (actually, slight errors can now be fixed, but that’s another story).
I’ve been making videos for over 25 years, and the one takeaway from this experience is that clients often have trouble focusing on the story they want to tell. I feel like the guy out of Groundhog Day, a film where the lead character gets trapped in a loop, reliving each day repeatedly.
Can I pass on a few pearls of wisdom? Probably not; I’ve been trying to explain the same message over and over for 25 years with little success. I’m in my version of Groundhog Day, it would seem.
So, it is time to focus on all you lovely storytellers out there.
Keep it brief
Most people see video as a one-time chance to explain everything that they do and how wonderful they are at doing it. I don’t blame them; they’re proud of it and want to tell the world. Unfortunately, the world is quite busy and doesn’t have time to listen.
It’s like chatting to a stranger in a pub; you need to hook them in early, or they’ll be off to talk to someone else. There’s a pub full of interesting people, and this is your one chance to shine.
“Hello, I’m Mitchell; I ride a unicycle to work, have a pet Zebra and often travel on public transport dressed as a Klingon.” That should do it; it’s much better than a slowly developing documentary of my life beginning with primary school – the stranger is now scanning the room looking for a means of escape!
Pick 5 points about your business that will leave your audience wanting more, keep it brief and then tell them where to look if they’re interested further. A call to action, if you will.
Context is king
If your video has a captive audience interested in the subject, you can rattle it to your heart’s content. Maybe your short 5-point promo will lead them to a secondary page of your website where you can then develop the story further. They are then a captive audience and will listen to everything you say. Likewise, if they stumble across it on social media, you can gently lead them to the same secondary page or phone you to find out more.
Most clients have 3 or 4 key people they want to appear in the video: the CEO, the Warehouse Manager and the Head of Sales, for example. Consider throwing in a customer testimonial for good measure.
They then ask a list of questions that will provoke the desired responses. We end up with an hour of people answering these questions, but they rarely unfold or link seamlessly to create a comprehensible narrative. The people you interview are also unaware of where their answers will fit into the overall video or how long they’ve got to answer the question. It’s their time to rattle on!
If they work at a company, let’s call it CMA Video, they might answer each question with “Here at CMA Video, I do this that or the other”. When you try to link questions together, this can become repetitive; maybe the next question they answer could start with “and…”. But unless you know the context or order of where it will appear in the video, the narrative can become very confusing and disjointed. Reverse engineering a bunch of questions isn’t a good solution to telling a story.
Decide what goes where before you start shooting.
If the CEO knows he is opening the video and has 20 seconds to get his point across, this focuses their mind on the job. 20 Seconds doesn’t sound much, but the ideal length of a promo video these days is about 90 seconds; most people are asking for 60 seconds for social media.
So, your interviewees have about 20 seconds each to convey their message. Also, if they know that they are appearing after the CEO who has said A, B & C, then they are more likely to understand how their section follows on from that. Each player knows their part in the process and what to perform in their allotted time.
Make them say what you want displayed.
You know what message the video needs to convey, so coerce them into just focusing on that 20-second slot and explicitly tell them what you would like to get across. We understand this is difficult to do with your boss, who wants to go on and on, but if you explain the format and the time restraints, they’ll get it and hopefully stick to their time slot.
This is also where we come in because we will send a director to ask the questions and gently remind them that they must stay on track. It’s easier if this comes from an outsider who knows what the video structure needs to be well in advance.
Create a storyboard
Each video opens with a logo, with a few seconds of music and visual images to set the scene, and then we’re into each interviewee. End with a call to action, as mentioned previously. So 10 seconds intro (logo and pretty images), four interviews (80 seconds) and 10 seconds Call to Action. We’re already up to 100 seconds, so if you want more people, they need to get their point across in 15 seconds or less.
Try to visualise the end video, section by section and make sure that your actors deliver it. The edit will fall together beautifully because everyone knows what goes where. It’s better than the editor sifting through endless answers to questions, trying to create a narrative from rambling answers to questions.
As a director, I spend most of my time at a shoot, reassuring the interviewee that what they said was amazing, but could they say it again in 20 seconds? Groundhog Day!!!
We’ll help you at every stage of the process.
Involve us early in the process, and we’ll help smooth the path to crafting a concise, on-point, beautiful video that will carry your company message continually, 24 hours a day, globally.
No more Groundhog Day.
I asked Chat GPT the following:
I am trying to write a blog about how to create a storyboard for video production, but it is a bit long. Could you make this shorter and punchier?
Life, much like making videos, hinges on focus. Here are quick tips from my 25 years in the video-making realm:
- Hook Them Quickly: Capture attention like a pub chat – 5 intriguing points, a dash of character, and a call to action.
- Context Matters: Tailor your story based on the audience’s interest. Guide them to dive deeper if hooked.
- Plan, Don’t Reverse-Engineer: Plot the narrative flow before filming. Each character should know their part.
- Direct the Message: Ensure your team conveys the precise message within their 20-second spotlight.
- Storyboard Brilliance: Visualise your video’s flow and ensure everyone fits seamlessly into the story.
Let’s break free from the Groundhog Day loop and create engaging videos that resonate!
This makes the point brilliantly and retains my film reference, but is it too brief?
I asked if it could be longer, and this is what it came up with:
Title: “Crafting a Killer Video: The Art of Focus”
In video production, much like in life itself, the focus is the linchpin. Having been entrenched in video-making for over 25 years, a central takeaway has emerged: the pivotal role of a compelling story. However, a recurring theme, akin to the movie Groundhog Day, is the challenge of imparting this fundamental insight to clients effectively.
Let me share some enduring wisdom—though perhaps elusive in its application. Picture this: you have a vibrant tale to tell, and you’re at a pub, eager to captivate a stranger with your narrative. This is the essence of presenting a video—a brief window to shine amidst a pub full of fascinating tales.
People often view video as a platform to showcase every facet of their venture, a testament to their brilliance. Alas, the world is a bustling place, and attention spans are ever-fleeting. So, just like in that pub conversation, your initial lines must be gripping. Introduce yourself with a splash of uniqueness—five intriguing facets of your business that leave the viewer curious. Brief, engaging, and with a clear call to action.
Context is key. If your audience is primed and interested, you can delve deeper into your narrative. Your concise promo entices them to a secondary webpage, where the story unfolds elaborately. Or they might even dial your number, hungry for more insights.
A common misstep is the attempt to reverse-engineer a video by structuring questions for specific individuals. The resultant responses often need more comprehensive in crafting a seamless, comprehensible narrative. Instead, envision the video’s layout beforehand, assigning roles and timings to each contributor.
By setting the stage and specifying each participant’s role, clarity and cohesion naturally follow. For instance, if the CEO starts with a 20-second statement, each subsequent speaker can build upon this foundation—the result: a well-orchestrated narrative where each part harmonises with the whole.
Now, directing the message is crucial. Each contributor should grasp their brief moment in the spotlight—around 20 seconds—to convey the desired message. While it might pose a challenge, setting expectations and constraints can streamline this process.
And then comes the magic of storyboarding—the blueprint that brings your vision to life. With a clear visual guide, the editing process becomes a seamless assembly of the planned sections. It’s a far cry from sifting through unstructured responses to questions.
As a director, a significant part of my job involves coaching interviewees to convey their message within that 20-second timeframe succinctly. It’s a delicate art but an essential one to escape the Groundhog Day cycle.
Here’s an offer: involve us early in your video production process, and we’ll guide you through crafting a compelling, on-point video. Imagine a video that becomes your company’s message, resonating 24/7, globally. No more reliving the same day—let’s break free and create a narrative that endures and thrives.
The last version is better, but some of the language is too flowery, so with some amendments, this might be more suited to a blog that needs some plot development.
It’s happened; a robot has replaced me. Danger Will Robinson, Danger!!! Too many film references for one blog?
CMA Video transforms ideas into captivating videos by seamlessly integrating AI technology and human creativity. Our dynamic approach ensures efficiency and innovation, delivering videos that resonate. Let’s bring your vision to life together. Get in touch with our video production team, and let the collaboration begin.