How to Produce a Brand Video that Audiences will want to Discover, Watch, and Share
Last week, we discussed tips on what comes next after you’ve persuaded your team that video is a good idea.
We also got into detail on the first 2 steps of the 4 Steps to Producing a Killer Product Video:
- Start with the Story
- Develop Your Story Through Character
- Build Drama
- Collaborate with your Audience
Today we’ll tackle the third step—Building Drama. And then we’ll finish it off next week with Collaborating with your Audience. We will also review some examples of well-produced product videos and take a look at what makes them work.
3. Build Drama
One of the biggest challenges in producing a product video is building drama. Why is drama important? It’s similar to the reason you need to think about a story arc: we are all wired to expect certain things to happen in a good story, and dramatic narratives keep audiences engaged.
Option 1: Use Desire and Conflict
One way to do this is by thinking about the story outline and ensuring there are clear moments of desire and conflict.
This is another very simple illustration of using desire and conflict, but I chose this example because it’s the structuring principal for the story. Rather than feature a character (like in the Jambox video), this piece features the audience member as the protagonist and the industry’s current state of affairs (where online advertising is difficult) as the antagonist. Desire and conflict are used throughout the video as a structuring principal, to advance the story-interest, to bring the concept to life, and to position Solve Media solution as the hero.
So let’s look at how desire and conflict are being used in the product narrative:
- The first “desire” is that advertisers want to reach audiences with memorable messaging. The “conflict” is that most advertisements were designed for TV, when people’s attention is migrating online. So advertisers meet up with this conflict, as there’s a behavioral change required to reach audiences.
- Then this “desire” by advertisers—to reach consumers online—meets with a second conflict: existing online advertising formats are terrible.
- Then, Solve Media describes the second level of “desire”: for advertisers and publishers to get the audience’s attention through a better online advertising format…and their new product is the proposed solution.
This is a very effective way of creating a fast-paced, engaging video that uses desire and conflict to draw the audience in and entertain while educating.
Option 2: Use Humor, Mystery or Surprise
The second option is to use other dramatic techniques such as humor, mystery, or surprise. These approaches are particularly useful online, as they encourage sharing and will be essential to creating a strong, memorable video that your audience will want to view and share.
If you’ve never seen the famous “Will It Blend” video series, please take a moment to watch them now.
They are a great example of using both surprise and humor in product videos, and the millions of views that each of these videos have generated is proof that those are qualities an online video audience really respects.
According to Chris Briggs, a Researcher for Socialens, here’s the story of how the videos came to be:
The Blendtec© “Will it Blend?” series of viral videos started when then-new Marketing Director George Wright found out that CEO Tom Dickson and the R&D team had a practice of blending up wooden boards to test product toughness. Wright had an idea to shoot video of the operation and post it online.
He invested under $100 in supplies and convinced Dickson to blend up other things on camera. 186 videos later, Blendtec’s retail sales are up a reported 700 percent, its YouTube site has 200,000+ subscribers, and it has been featured on major mainstream media outlets like The Today Show, The Tonight Show, The History Channel, The Wall Street Journal and others. Among awards, Blendtec has won a bronze Clio in 2008 (Interactive category) for their interactive efforts.
To read more about this incredible video case study, check out Socialens whitepaper here: Blendtec Will It Blend? Viral Video Case Study.
Option 3: Use Montage and Juxtaposition
The next video is not an example of a piece made for a product launch. But it is an incredibly effective example of visual communication using simple live action cinematography and juxtaposition to create a powerful montage.
The first is a newly released video on the issue of Bullying.
Drawing attention to a current issue like this is very different, of course, than launching a product. But they also have some similarities since in both cases you’re conveying a powerful story that you want audiences to be moved by, identify with, and respond to by taking action.
Here’s what I love about this piece: in addition to being beautifully directed and shot, the juxtaposition of moments creates a storyline as engrossing and surprising as it is powerful. This results in a powerful montage, which is an editing term that literally means “a method by which through two unrelated shots we may create a third and different meaning.”
This is also a great example of how music and sound effects can build a whole new dimension into your story—something much different than a linear voiceover.
If you’re interested in learning more about juxtaposition, I highly recommend watching Wendy Apple’s 2004 documentary, The Cutting Edge, on the art of film editing. In it, she features some of the best editors in Hollywood and the directors they’ve worked with (and whose careers they’ve saved, in some cases!)
You can also read Walter Murch’s books, In the Blink of An Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing and The Conversation: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film. Murch is a legendary editor who invented the role of the Sound Editor and has lectured and written on the subject extensively.
As Rob Cohen, Director of Fast and Furious and XXX says, “Editing is why we like going to the movies. Because in the end, wouldn’t we like to edit our own lives? I think we would.”
Option 4: Motion Graphics, Animation, or Visual Effects
The third option for building drama is to rely on more visual techniques that can be achieved in post-production.
Let’s first define what we mean by motion graphics, animation, and visual effects—since often these terms are conflated.
Motion Graphics is traditionally still graphics—such as illustrations, typography, or photographs—that are choreographed or “moved” over time through manipulation of where and how they appear on screen. Lighting can play a major role in motion graphics, as can color and depth of field. The motion graphics process involves two phases: design, and animation of the elements.
There are many different techniques that can be employed to create visual interest through graphics, but motion graphics are best demonstrated by example.
Magnet Media was recently hired by The Associated Press to produce a branding video that would help update their image and convey their thought leadership on journalism and social media. Here is the result.
Adobe Systems approached Magnet Media to produce a video explaining its enterprise software-licensing program in an approachable format that would appeal to busy IT executives in large corporations as well as small-to-medium businesses. To meet the challenge, Magnet created a simple, informative, entertaining, and FUN animated video that captured the essence of the program and the challenges faced by software and IT managers. It can be used as a conversation starter for a sales team or as an entry point for an individual researching the program.
For this piece, the NBC News network wanted to establish a leadership position by producing stories and an interactive event on the current state of American Education. Their goal was to show how America’s system compared with the rest of the world and our own historical position.
Civic Entertainment Group (CEG), the event partner for NBC News, hired Magnet Media to create all of the video content for those stages. The first year, the videos premiered on several video walls within Rockefeller Center. They combined infographics, dozens of animations, and NBC News voiceovers with original photography commissioned by our producers in select schools where NBC reported innovation was happening. Here is a clip from the first year’s video.
After the success of the first year’s Education Nation pavilion, NBC and CEG sought to take that engaging, educational experience on the road. For the road show, the news network wanted to create three separate stories that tackled different aspects of the current state of American education.
Again Magnet Media worked with the talented experience producers at CEG to create all of the video content for those stages. The resulting videos for the second year of Education Nation were much more focused on conveying original graphic animations.
I point to these two examples because stylistically they’re quite different, but they they tell a similar story. I think it’s an interesting example of how the style choice—animated photographs versus original motion graphics—can have a different effect and impact on the audience.
Visual Effects are commonly confused with motion graphics, but they are distinct in an important way: they almost always involve live action photography or cinematography, and may involve computer-generated models.
Visual Effects, according to Wikipedia, are defined as “the integration of live action footage and generated imagery to create environments which look realistic, but would be dangerous, costly, or simply impossible to capture on film.”
For this promotional demo video for Samsung’s LED TV, visual effects were incorporated to create a sense of wonder and magic. Live action footage and visual effects come together to place the Samsung’s television in a slick, high-tech limbo where it interacts with a dazzling array of social and entertainment graphics.
What do you think? Do you know of any other great examples of building drama in videos? Do you have any other points to add the list? Let us know in the comments below, on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or LinkedIn.
In the next article in the series, Megan will conclude her series with a post on collaborating with your audience.