In this blog post I dissect a video we recently did for a smartphone application developer. I show you how we tell the story, and communicate the features and benefits of the app, all in under two minutes… AND do it at a price that’s very affordable.
Before I show you how we do it, please watch the video. Go on, watch it now. That way you’ll know what I’m referring to when I explain the what, the how and the why. It’s only a minute and 51 seconds.
I insist on producing our videos in a story format because people are hard-wired to pay attention to stories, to remember them and to share them with others. It’s a lot more work to write a story and tell it in sight and sound than it is to just list the features/benefits/value proposition, but the end result is way more effective as a marketing vehicle.
So what are the elements of a story?
Who’s our main character? Our hero? We never tell you, but we show you. She’s a woman named Carol. She’s a young, urban professional. You learned all that in the first scene because you saw her and (between her phone conversation, the narrator’s speech, and a peek at her phone screen) you know that she had a date to meet friends after work. Their plans changed, but too busy at work to notice the Facebook message, she went to the wrong restaurant.
What about other characters? No one else has a speaking part. That’s to save time and money. Shorter is better in our attention-deficited world. It takes time to introduce each new character. Also, in animation each new character must be created/drawn and animated. In live camera shoots each new character must be played by an actor. Both scenarios increase costs.
So we introduce additional characters only when we absolutely have to.
Every story requires that our hero encounter, and struggle with, an obstacle of some sort. In this case, it’s the complexity of Carol’s multiple social networks. We open with the consequences of that complexity… the buried Facebook message resulting in poor Carol having to eat dinner alone.
It just so happens that the Sparksfly application solves the issue of social network complexity. So, when Carol finds the app, she overcomes her obstacle.
Or, as Carol might put it… the ‘Denouement’ (if you watched the video, you understand my French reference). Via screen shots and a clever motion graphic of the ‘Spark’ feature, we learn what the application does, and the benefits of its functionality.
We drive the message home with an emotional scene depicting (another story element): “found gold”. Via the Spark function, Carol gets a bonus – something beyond what she was looking for.
Call to Action
It isn’t really a story element, but this is a marketing video so, of course, we have a call to action.
We have shown, not told, our little story.
Boring vs. Confusing
This is a constant balancing act. We must hold people’s attention. We do that via sights and sounds. But we must also be careful not to overload or distract from the primary focus. Too many simultaneous sights and/or sounds and the viewer is confused, and the message undelivered.
We produce what are called ‘implied animations’. That means they’re not full motion. Full motion animations are expensive because they’re labor-intensive (even with today’s digital tools). So we show just enough motion to make the action easily comprehensible. Even though the motion was limited, was there any point in the video where you didn’t understand what was going on?.
Limited Color Palette
What’s with the green? This is another cost saving choice. Using black, white and one other color (in this case the same green as the Sparksfly logo), we give the eyes enough visual stimulation to keep viewers’ attention, but we spend much less on the colorization of all the visual elements in the multiple animation cels. NOTE: Sometimes we do color all the visual elements… it depends on budget and customer preference.
Emphasis on Pre-Production
It’s much quicker, easier and cheaper to make changes on paper than to a video that’s already been shot or animated (I learned this the hard way). So we do a full spectrum of strategizing, story development, script writing and storyboarding before we produce the video. The result is an affordable video that’s entertaining, brief and persuasive.
Please contact me (info in sidebar) if you want to discuss how we might produce an effective, affordable video for your business, product or service.