What Makes a Video Worth Watching?
Story, characters and emotion are key elements in creating a video that’s fun for the audience to watch. You have to entertain people or they will be gone in a flash. Even marketing videos have to be fun or they will not be effective because no one will bother to watch.
Especially in the world of online video where the average attention span is slightly less than .0002 seconds, presenting a story that appeals to human emotions is crucial. Consider your storyline to be the core element in creating a video that viewers will agree to watch, which should be the #1 goal of any video. You can not sell people something if they will not even bother watching your video!
People love stories. So draw viewers into your information by presenting it as a story. Stories are based on characters that viewers can relate to emotionally. Almost all fiction starts with the author conjuring up the characters first, then coming up with the plot second. So first, create characters your audience can relate to. That’s not as hard as it sounds.
Characters are really nothing more than people who experience things and react in emotional ways.
The easiest character of all is the “every man,” someone who is typical, and probably much like your average viewer. Place an “every man” character into a situation, have him react and there is your story. The viewer will relate by saying, “Gee, I know how he feels! The same weird stuff happens to me, too!” Your product or service can be the “good guy” in the story that solves your every man’s dilemma.
If you want more diversity with your characters, start by imagining the many different characteristics that make them up.
- Are they big or small?
- Nice or mean?
- Smart or dumb?
- Brave or timid?
- Funny or serious?
- Cheerful or gloomy?
- Outgoing or shy?
Characters become more interesting if you combine seemingly contradictory traits, like gloomy yet funny.
If you are making up multiple characters for one story, ensure conflict between them by having them be diverse people who would never agree on much of anything. Then, no mater what situation arises, there will be conflict, which drives your story. It’s much easier to write meaningful dialogue if you know your characters well and if all your characters are opinionated loud-mouths, then dialogue will flow like a river.
Telling a story visually is fun for the mischievous. As you prepare your shots, be aware of creating first impressions with a LOOK. Video is visual (no kidding!); so much of your storytelling relies on visuals, not words. An exaggerated facial expression can replace the dialogue that says, “Oh, that’s gross and disgusting!” and can immediately tell the viewer the character is squeamish. The gal pictured below looks pretty durn excited about something!
Creating characters on video means relying on visual cues and visual information. How they look, dress, wear their hair. What do their surroundings look like? You can impart A LOT of information about your characters using visual information alone. Don’t worry about being stereotypical with your characterizations.
Use close-ups to show details. Your character is gold-digging tramp? Make sure and get a close-up of that pile of gift boxes thrown on the floor. Can you see all the different name cards? Good. That tells the audience the gifts come from more than one guy, but she doesn’t care too much since it’s all tossed onto the floor. Now THAT is visual characterization.
As a person who has taught video production to others, it’s quite obvious to me that storytelling is usually the LAST thing people master. Newbies to video feel the need to get all the technical stuff down first. What kind of camera to use and where to put the lights and microphones? Understandably, newcomers focus on such technical matters long before they contemplate storyline.
While technical stuff is important, in the end, it is not nearly as important as your storyline and your characters. So get those creative juices flowing and come up with a story for your video. Make it as emotional as possible, because that’s what makes your video interesting to watch.