Video is worth 1.8 million words.
James L. McQuivey, Forrester Research
The 2015 film Tangerine was shot on an iPhone 5s and went on to be an official selection at the Sundance Film Festival. The story of Tangerine is a testament to not having to rely on the latest technology in order to be a successful video. It also begs the question of what are the elements of a good video?
Having a clear story with an arc
All good videos need a good journey, or else it’s a waste of your audience’s time, and yours. A story can be anything from how a business got started, to a water crisis in an American town. Stories center around humans to illicit specific emotions in humans. In order to take your audience on this emotional adventure, you have to have your main character go through a character arc. This arc is their “roller coaster” journey from beginning, middle, and the end of the story. At the end is where they must learn a great lesson.
Knowing who the audience is
There are many beautifully-shot videos that can still miss their mark and not deliver the intended message. Sure, those videos look pretty, but does your audience understand the message by the end of the video?
When you make something that is to be consumed or viewed by other people, you have to think like them and try to deliver the images and text in a way that they would best absorb and interpret them. If you are making a video that will be viewed by children aged 3-5 years old, you might want to use cartoons or talking animals. If you are making a video whose main audience will be people aged 60-85 years old, your video can focus on facts and not waste time entertaining. Know your audience. Think like they do.
Time and effort
Producing a good video takes time and effort, and a lot of learning. Making the best video means you might be shooting more days than you thought, or that the video requires more editing time than you expected. Taking the shortest route isn’t always the best route. Give your work the time and effort it deserves.
You also might not possess all of the skills you need yet, but lack of skills never trumps passion. I still Google “How To” videos when I can’t figure out how to do certain things. It’s just a part of the process. The success of a project is also in the time and effort you put into self-improvement.
Prioritizing audio quality over video quality
Your audience will be turned off if your video has bad audio. Your film can look like The Revenant, but if the soundtrack was 2 hours of rumbling wind through an iPhone speaker, your audience will hate you. Always apply the “60/40 rule” when it comes to prioritizing audio quality over video quality.
Watching other people’s videos and judging them
Have you ever heard the quote “If you want to be a good writer you have to be a good reader?” The same goes for making a good video. The good thing about this is that there are MILLIONS of videos to watch online. And I don’t mean only watching the “good” videos; you must watch all the bad videos too and make a mental list of what looks good to you and what makes you cringe. If you don’t have a judgement on what’s good and what’s bad, then how will you know which one you are?
The development of your ability to judge (yes, judging is okay here) is actually known as something else you might have heard already: developing your eye. When you hear people say so-and-so’s “got a good eye!” in the case of photography and video, it is really a person’s ability to quickly judge what looks “right” and what doesn’t. So watch other videos, good and bad, and judge them.
Have more tips on making a good video? Leave a comment below.