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The Silver video team regularly enjoys getting together to show off to each other about the recent videos that have inspired us. We take it in turns to perform a little ‘set’ of sorts and feel a sense of pride over what we show. It’s a bit like being the first to tip your friends off about a new cool band before they get huge and mainstream and the fun is ‘ruined for everyone’. So what do the videos that inspire us have in common?
First of all they have to be original. Stop Motion Animator, PES, is a great example of this, his mind just works differently to the average human’s. Director Michel Gondry said of his work “Clicking on a PES film is to open a safe and suddenly see a million ideas glittering and exploding. The only reason you close the door is to re-open it just after and discover what will pop this time.” PES’s short ‘Western Spaghetti’ inspired a load of uninspiring food-related stop motion commercials that were just derivative, they didn’t add anything of their own. Imitation is great as a form of flattery but not as a method for creation. Borrow and make your own but don’t outright steal. There’s an amazing stop motion animation on youtube that went viral, made with post-it notes. Soon after there was a Kia car commercial that ripped the idea off, but instead of thinking “wow, that looks cool”, you were left wondering what post-it notes had to do with a car!
Secondly, a video should be relatable. As one of my favourite authors pointed out “Many people need desperately to receive this message: ‘I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone.” A good video, like any other well-executed art form, should give the viewer a sense of connectedness.
Thirdly, good storytelling is about having a voice. Good videos consider their audience but they don’t pander to their audience, they remain nonetheless credible works of art. To quote Kurt Vonnegut again, because he said most things better than anyone else, ‘Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia’. Although he was talking about writing to tell a story, exactly the same applies to video.
Unusual transitions are also a key component to cool video storytelling. They just make us Motion Graphic Designers coo like Mary Berry would over a really good pie crust. Also, they are a great way to connect two seemingly disparate ideas to form a new thread to a story. My colleagues created some pretty inspiring transitions in the recent Camworth video which is worth a look! Also the simple but beautiful transitions in the Xpress video make you want to watch it over and over again.
Effective use of music deserves a blog post of its own. The correct fusion of image and sound is so incredibly powerful, nothing draws on the emotions like a well-chosen piece of music. Watch a video without sound to see how much of the message is lost. Also, sound effects are not to be overlooked. Again, our recent Camworth video is a great example of sound effects bringing a piece to life.
Lastly, one of the main ingredients is hard work. We’re sadists on the video team, we love watching the ‘making of’ of our favourite videos (Look at this for Telefonica) and knowing that blood sweat and tears went into them. We like knowing that things have been done the hard way, it earns our respect, makes us proud of our profession and reminds us that greatness doesn’t come without graft.
Although we may be inundated by moving images, video has not lost its power to compel, of course not, it is the realm of the ineffable and the unquantifiable! It is by definition ‘audiovisual’, two art forms rolled into one. Michelangelo and Mozart in one masterpiece. The old adage ‘a picture paints a thousand words’ obviously predates the medium, video paints a billion squared.
Lisa Ferrari is one of the next generation of video storytellers and is a vital part of the motion graphics team at Silver.