Anyone with one media-savvy bone in their body understands the increasing importance of video across industries—by 2021, IP video traffic will account for 82 percent of all consumer Internet traffic, up from 73 percent in 2016.
We hear about the marketing potential for video all the time, a concept embodied by the fact that social algorithms today allow dramatically more visibility for video than photos. But how much do we really know about video?
As a Digital Media Designer here at CHIEF, my primary focus is using video and animation to tell our clients’ stories in new and exciting ways. I have been working with video since 2007, when I got my start filming high school theatre productions. It’s been both fascinating and rewarding to see the industry change so much over the years, and thrilling to be a part of that shift. Some of the more notable trends I’ve seen emerge over the years are:
1) Length of content:
There was a point when “as short as possible” (30 sec – 3 minutes) was the main strategy for video on social. Now we’ve evolved to a more nuanced position where both bite size (5-15 sec) and longer-form content (3-15 min) can be effective in the right scenarios. It really has to be optimized for each channel however: longer form videos perform better on YouTube than on Facebook or Instagram for instance. Viewers have to be prepared to digest long-form content, but if they are and you’re able to capture a compelling perspective the outcome can be more effective and emotional. For me, the story is still the most powerful aspect of any video production, and aligning that with a length/style that makes sense for the story (or vice versa) creates the most impact. One thing still remains true however: the first 15 seconds or so is a critical window to capture the viewer’s interest.
2) Video without sound:
Social media has almost entirely created this trend. Video on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter is muted by default so that users scrolling through social streams in public aren’t embarrassed when that puppy video they’re watching sounds in the middle of a crowd. This poses a new challenge for video producers, who must now strike the balance between adding compelling titles or captions to make up for the lack of sound, or using imagery that communicates (and is interesting enough) to attract people to the video without either captions or sound. While muted video poses a creative challenge for producers, communicating through imagery rather than words/text opens up new realms of accessibility and shareability.
3) General uptick in demand for video:
There has definitely been an increase in the demand for video over the last five years—specifically, I have noticed growth in organizations wanting to use video as a means of sharing their mission and values. With video, organizations are able to tell a more engaging and nuanced story/message all with a relatively low cognitive barrier—it’s a win-win for both the organization and the audience. So many things compete for our digital real estate and attention spans, and video content is perfectly suited to communicate deeper messaging in the same space.
4) Good content works across most social channels:
For the most part, good content will work on most channels. If I’m producing a video exclusively for Instagram, I might output as a square format, or if I’m creating evergreen content that will live on multiple channels I stick with the standard 16:9. In general though I find that good content is good content is good content, and should be able to thrive on most social channels in a relatively similar format. To squeeze the most engagement out of each platform however, it can help to tailor the creative to the specific quirks of each, like runtime/aspect ratio/third vs first party hosting, etc.
5) New, exciting capacities for video:
The advancements in virtual and augmented reality (and as it relates to 360° video) help push really interesting opportunities for the future of storytelling through motion. Additionally, while not a new concept, I see a lot of room for broader commercial uses of projection-mapping (a technology used to turn objects, often irregularly shaped, into a display surface for video projection) to create unique and interesting experiences. I would love to experiment with this space and see how we could use it to elevate our clients.
6) Lower barriers to entry:
One trend in video that I find most exciting is the lowering cost of production and the increasing accessibility of all the various tech. I feel I’ve partly been able to be successful because I entered the industry right as HD video was coming out, and the “prosumer” market was emerging. This allowed people to create their own high quality video at a much lower cost than it looked—and that’s where I really shined. This is why I fell in love with the DSLR workflow—shooting HD video with photo cameras—even with a bare-bones setup the image quality constantly impressed. This will only continue to grow as tech gets smaller and the interested market gets larger. Eight years ago this idea might have been laughable, but it definitely won’t be long until we see a Hollywood level feature-length film shot on a smartphone.
My advice for anyone looking to get involved in the field:
Continuously make things. Keep telling stories, don’t get too weighed down by absolute perfection on one video. Use it as a learning point for the next one. And learn the tech as much as you can.
→ Mike’s Preferred Gear:
Right now my main cam is the Canon 1DX mark ii → Films at 4k 60p with great image quality, and takes incredible stills.
On the software side, I basically use the Adobe suite for everything – Premiere, After Effects, etc.