Every video tells a story. Whether your video project is a 30 second commercial or the latest Hollywood epic, you’ll need to understand how the elements of your video can change the story you are setting out to tell.
We can break storytelling down into five categories. Emotion, Sound Design, Visuals, Perspective, and Pacing can all affect the story. Let’s take a closer look at how visual storytelling works and how you can use them to your advantage.
The story of your video is all about emotion. This is both the emotions you want to connect with your story and those you want your audience to walk away with. Even fully animated product videos need to consider emotion. Do you want your video to make your audience feel strong and confident? Maybe a sense of urgency is more what you’re going for?
Decide on your story’s emotions first. Before you even start drafting ideas for the visuals, dialogue, or sound, think about how you want your audience to feel. Once you’ve decided on some emotions, you can start drafting ideas for story elements that evoke those feelings.
Sound shapes the way viewers experience the story of your video.
Simple things like background music can totally change the story. While that might be an obvious example, think about how sound can add emotional space to a video. Can your hear an actors footsteps? That is a way to make them feel much closer to the viewer. Adding in some soft background ambiance can help even office settings feel much more alive and inviting.
When you’re designing sound for a video, take a minute to think about how changing things like music, background ambiance, and effects can change how viewers experience the story.
The visual information you put up on the screen has just as much impact on the story as the words you write.
Setting your video in a boardroom might give you video a sense of authority, but viewers might also find that less trustworthy than setting it in a home. If your on screen talent are wearing suits they might look official, but can also seem distant. Actors wearing more approachable clothes exchange that sense of officiousness for closeness. There are trade-offs to every decision when it comes to visuals.
Think about how you want your story to be perceived by your viewers and let the visuals flow out from there.
Perspective can be summed with the question: “Who is telling your story?” Is it a representative from your marketing department? A CEO? Maybe it’s a satisfied customer or someone from production that can attest to your quality.
When you decide “who” is telling your story, you change the meaning. Going with a representative from your organization can give a sense of authority and a behind the scenes approach. If you chose the satisfied customer approach, people might find the video more relatable and the information more trustworthy.
There are trade-offs to whichever perspective you pick. Take a moment to think of how you would react to the perspective you choose if it were someone else’s video.
Pacing in storytelling is all about how fast or slow the story feels like it is going. This isn’t about how long or short the final video is, but more about how the audience experiences that time. We can all think of presentations or maybe even a movie or two that just dragged on and on. That’s because they had poor pacing.
If you have something long and technical you need to explain in your video, consider breaking it up into smaller pieces. Make sure to give your audience time to absorb your story as you are telling it. It’s good to add something light and easier after a moment you want to stick with them.
Consider action movies. They aren’t just 90 minutes of explosions. There are bursts of action interspersed with calmer moments that help give a better pace. Make sure your “bursts of action” are likewise paced throughout your video.
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