The New Video Ecosystem: Video Production Styles in a Digital Age

Video production and video marketing is something absolutely everyone can easily and affordably get into these days. It's really a question of mindset.

The web is becoming video-based. More than that, it's not just Google anymore. It's not just YouTube, blogs or Facebook. The web is composed of a multitude of new hubs and platforms for people to create, share, think, analyse. Apps are the new web frontier, and as they say, there is one for everything. 

Even what we used to call software, such as Adobe's Creative Suite/Cloud (e.g. Photoshop, After Effects), now want to be known as apps. 

The new world of video

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In this new environment, attention is the most precious currency. And the best way to receive any is to build a relationship with your audience(s).

This is where the whole new ecosystem of videos come into play. In order to create lasting relationships, you need at least:

  • Frequency: posting content regularly to keep people coming back
  • Quality: not about video quality at all but rather story, creative concept, production
  • Personality: whether you're a brand, a band or a person, this matters to create real, meaningful connections with people
  • 4 levels of video production: what I'm talking about today

Most people - often over 30 - seriously mistake the importance of videos made on a smartphone. They'll argue it's unprofessional, even when they don't realise that nowadays it's being used daily on TV and on the biggest social media channels out there.

Of course the video quality isn't great, and that's precisely what's great about it! Countless times, I've had bands ask me how can videos like the one below have 28 million views, when the sound quality is crap and the music isn't even nearly as good as what they put out there (and they only get 350 views on their video).

 
 
The answer is simple and yet not: authenticity.

In other words, it's real, it feels like you've genuinely just walked onto a bunch of random people playing together.

Today, whether you're producing a documentary, a video marketing campaign or music video, you have 4 levels of production that generate 4 levels of engagement.

Four levels of video production styles (and their impact on the viewer)

Let's discuss 4 main video styles:

  1. Well-produced
  2. Semi-produced
  3. Smartphone/Action camera (e.g. GoPro)
  4. Selfie style
  • Video style #1: WPP (well-produced and polished)

This is your usual company or start-up launch video, your classic music video, your Planet Earth II or Wonder List documentary filmed with amazing cameras and put together by talented editors.

It looks amazing and you can have a great "wow" factor. But also, you know what? It feels more distant. This is the number 1 rule of video production in our digital age:

The more polished the video, the more distance it creates with the viewer.

I'm not saying however that you shouldn't create well-produced videos, they still have their place in this world (just like TV does in the Internet age).

But they should now be part of a wider video ecosystem, where different video production styles allow you to engage with your audience on different levels of intimacy. This is the level with near-zero intimacy, and maximum distance.

Again, there is nothing wrong with it, far from it. It's where you appeal to a wide audience, but it's also where you - usually - take fewer risks.

Risk-taking is strongly correlated to authenticity
 
 

A great example of a charity trying to take risks (though not too big ones), choosing a great song (soundtrack for the Hunger Games) and showcasing its values.

  • Video style #2: SP (semi-produced)

Every video style now described stems from lower levels of video production. You could say cheaper or less sophisticated but it doesn't have to be. 

You can use GoPro (action) cameras creatively, some have even used it to create viral projects (the man jumping in the ocean and fighting off a CGI shark with his fists), one of my favourite new uses: 

 
 

The point is, there is a lower level of production and while the above doesn't really create any intimacy because of its music video nature, you still have the wow factor and a real degree of authenticity.

It's celebrating individual creativity rather than the work of a team of 40 on a professional filming set. It almost feels like you can start to know these guys a little. That is what you're looking for!

Or consider these two covers, filmed outside with less than ideal audio conditions. And yet they feel way more REAL than a live session performed in a studio - the perfect controlled environment with the perfect sound. The opposite of authenticity (on the web).

Still, an amateur won't realise (but I do believe that subconsciously they know) how good the sound is in both cases, for cover videos filmed outdoors. It's absolutely impossible that this was simply recorded on a camera's mic. There are at least 2 microphones in both cases.

With this video style you conserve a great deal of quality via the semi-produced feel, and the production process is much simpler: the team is smaller, the editing is much faster, the total cost is a fraction of the full-blown production style.

Video style #3: SPS (smartphone style or action camera)

Lots, and LOTS of big news companies and enlightened brands and bands have adopted videos shot on smartphones. Not only because of of new features like Facebook's live feed, but because of the immediacy and intimacy it creates. 

Suddenly you are almost literally in the hands of the "filmmaker". And the shakiness (even if you have very stable hands) is a great indicator of this: you are thrown into a different place, right there and then. It's like you're with them discovering a homeless person playing the piano wonderfully or looking at Sony's new offices in HongKong just as other employees discover them too.

Powerful, genuine social media stuff.

In the example below, it's like you're thrown into the artist's living room as he's working on a new song. You suddenly have access to very personal stuff. 

The invention of the television meant that suddenly people could be reached within the comfort of their homes. The internet has had the opposite effect, broadcasters can now publish too from the comfort of their homes and show themselves as they are (or create personas).

Video style #4: SS (selfie style)

Going a step further, you have selfie-style produced videos. I had only 3 levels at first but I changed my mind when realising just how different the impact of selfie-style filming is.

It's not just about facing the camera, it's the impression that on top of that the camera is strapped on to you (and obviously in a way it is, thanks to our magical hands). Where ever you go, it goes with you, wherever you turn your head to, it follows (though pointing in the opposite direction!).

It's really a whole new level of intimacy and immediacy.  Extremely useful for a variety of purposes:

  • Product launches (unofficial and official)
  • Announcing contests and competitions (and winners)
  • Q&As with your team or an expert in your field
  • Q&As with your audience (e.g. Facebook live feed)
  • Any old ramblings, initial thoughts or comments about anything (product, new song, testimonial, review, etc)

That's it from me, can you think of any other level of production or video style that impacts the viewer in terms of generating or boosting authenticity, immediacy and intimacy?