Rethinking Video

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When you think about video, do you consider it predominately a visual or audio medium?

I suspect most people would say visual. When we think video, we think camera. We think motion (video).

But I have come to think of it as predominately an audio medium, albeit with important visual support. Indeed it is the effective combination of pictures and words together that create interesting and persuasive messages.

Many years ago Al Ries and Jack Trout, acknowledged experts at the art of persuasion, wrote an article in Ad Age titled A Picture is NOT Worth a Thousand Words (sorry, no link, way before digital and web content.) In it, they debunked the myth.

Historically, the written word developed because pictures could not tell the full story. A richer way of communicating was needed. Audio is the verbal delivery of words.

Ries suggested a simple test. When you view television advertisements, or any video, turn off the audio and see how informative the visual elements are. Next turn off the visual and hear the value audio delivers. No contest really.

This is especially true for complex and nuanced ideas. As it is for the important, and under utilized educational role for video for marketing, sales, and of course training. Audio explains complexity and nuance.  It is audio that delivers the emotional element that engages and enrolls people.

But audio coupled with the right images is even more powerful.

This understanding and perspective has significant implications:

  1. It focuses the communication and content effort first onto the message to be delivered, then onto the visual elements required to assist delivery and understanding. So pay careful attention to your message outlines and scripts. It’s not just “what you say, but how you say it” that matters. Then determine the best visual elements to support your message.
  1. This thinking separates the audio from the visual. Professionals know this. Amateur videographers tend to think of video and audio acquisition as a combined activity. Once audio and video are separated, many options open as to how each is captured or created. A camera is not the only way to create video.
  1. This separation greatly simplifies production effort and cost. The audio track — the sequential  time required to deliver the narrative — is more time rigid. So work on the audio portion first, and fit the visuals to the audio. When acquired as a combined element using a camera, this separation and editing, while possible, is considerably more effort, with real limitations.
  1. New audio and visual acquisition options open up. Rather than go on location, audio and visual elements can be acquired or created remotely. Audio can be acquired over the telephone. Visual elements can come from still images, graphics that are developed, or “b-roll” video that is acquired.
  1. Need to create in foreign languages? No problem. The separate audio and visual elements, with timings working off the audio, makes this a snap.

This customer story I’ve heard a hundred times. A talking head video was acquired at a conference. The talk was long and the desire was for a short, impactful, 2 plus minute video. Extensive video editing by expensive agency editors was required. Being a global organization, the resulting video was required in seven different languages.

Imagine trying to synchronize the timing of seven different languages to a tightly edited (to the original English language version) video. Not pretty, not cheap, not that great a result.

By rethinking video, and seeing it as the combination of audio with supporting visual elements, new possibilities open. Time, effort and costs drop precipitously. The flexibility to create video in a configurable, modular fashion becomes practical. Maintaining and updating video to extend the useful life of this important content asset becomes feasible. And creating the volume of video content constituents today are demanding becomes a normal operating procedure.

These concepts may not be new, but the ability to execute them with a scalable, cheaper, faster process has barely begun for most organizations. This creates great opportunities for differentiating how you market and sell. Learning to execute a high impact video strategy before your competitors beat you to it requires an investment in process and user education, more than tools. What you may think you know, may not get you optimized outcomes, soon enough.

If you need help with a video strategy, operations process or new techniques, contact us, we’ve love to discuss your situation.

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