If a photo is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a novel.
The power of intriguing images, impressive effects, and compelling music have made videography explode over the past year. Facebook now allows shorter video ads, LinkedIn recently allowed native videos vs static photography, and Instagram continues to tinker with video algorithms.
And then there’s television. The commercials are full of special effects and packed with a production budget that rivals independent films. From famous actors to jaw-dropping scenery, companies are throwing big money at video. But it’s not enough.
Video alone can’t support a product launch or brand reveal. Images, sounds, and beautiful people can’t make something go viral. But a unique narrative can. Consider the top films of our time—the pinnacle of video. Their budgets vary. Their casts may contain well-known names or brand new faces. They may be placed in Italy or in Kansas.
Across all these differences lies one common strength: the story.
So, what does it take to make a great story on screen? I got together with our Director of Video, Andy Nick, to hear his take.
David: Andy, there’s a lot of videos being made. What separates the great from the forgettable?
Andy: What’s behind the image? There’s no shortage of compelling visuals and beautiful imagery. But there’s so little soul—it’s often soulless. It’s rare to find something truly different.
When I look at video ads I see film quality shit with no backbone. And consumers are eating this like it’s a gourmet meal, but really it’s just a sugary cake.
David: So that brings up an interesting point: Does it matter? I mean, aside from it being total crap, if the masses are flocking to the cake, why make a substantial meal?
Andy: I think of it like Moneyball. Yeah, those massive budget production shows are going to move the runner from first to second, and yeah they may win their division. But they’re not hitting a home run. They’re not creating loyalty in their city.
They’re bunting. And sooner or later your fans—and consumers—need more than a bunt.
David: Can you give me some examples of a bunt?
Andy: Sure. It’s all over the place. Bunting is the beautiful slow-motion shots that are admittedly impressive but lack any purpose. Bunting is the script that makes you want to mute the television because it’s so cliche. Bunting is cheap humor and easy laughs. Bunting is the non-authentic shit you see all the time on the web and on tv.
It lacks an idea or a core purpose. It simply exists because it has to, not because it should.
David: So that idea becomes the meat. That’s the real difference?
Andy: That, and the ability to effectively share the idea. But the majority of videos—short or long—just cut to the end. They are obsessed with the medium, the lights, the effects, and the stage. Those things are important, but they can’t make up for a soulless script or a production with no big idea.
David: Can you give us some insight on how you approach a video then when it comes in the doors at Real Art?
Andy: It’s about character—our character and the character of our clients. To produce an effective video you need an intimate understanding of a brand’s character—what they stand for, who they serve, why they exist, etc. And before we jump to our client, our team has to remember our own character. There’s an undercurrent in the video world to run towards the amazing visuals and to paint over the poor message.
But that’s not us and that’s not what our clients need. They need to stand out and so their video needs to be different—it needs to be authentic. So we do the hard work of focusing on the idea and developing a compelling narrative. Because the idea is the hard part. The execution is not too challenging with the right team.
You can find our team’s most recent videos, including work for GE, Dawn, Premier Health and more, here.