This is article two in my content development series entitled, The Big Picture. In the first article I suggested three critical questions that can help you to define and understand your audience in order to craft targeted, effective video content. Now that you have a good understanding of your audience, it’s time to pull out your keyboard and start pecking away your first draft script. Or is it? Novice or not, before putting pen to page, first consider the raw tools of the trade: the elements of production. At a top level, that is sight, sound, and motion.
Before I ever begin to write, I start to form the big picture: how the program will look, sound, and feel. What is the message and what are the various production elements that can help convey that content in a dynamic and memorable way? Of course, in the end, the specific elements will be somewhat dictated by the script content itself (and of course budget), but considering the production elements can help broaden the creative process in how you bring substance to the screen. The perfect mix of sight, sound, and motion all come together to form the big picture. But each of these elements also plays a critical and independent role, so dissecting them is a worthwhile endeavor.
Sight, what will be seen.
Give some thought to how the program will look. As the old saying goes, there are many ways to skin a cat. Fact is, there are even more ways to tell a vision. Will you incorporate on-camera interviews; use a host or moderator; incorporate actors; voice-over talent; photographs; tell the story completely with animated graphics; or use a combination of styles to create your own unique look? Consider examples of videos that you like. What captures you about the way they are built? Great. Now break the mold. Use unique sets, environments, lighting, and composition to bring a fresh view.
Sound, like a plan.
Never underestimate the power of audio. Movies have it right. The music and sound tracks are one of, if not the most important production elements responsible for how your program will feel. Just try editing a serious piece of content with the circus music. Or, put elevator music under a marketing video. You’ll immediately hear the obvious difference. In planning your script, make notes about how you want the audience to feel throughout the program. Later when you’re selecting music tracks, use these key words to guide you in customizing the perfect music bed for your content to rest comfortably.
Motion, what moves you.
What goes up must come down. What it comes down to on the screen is emotion. Motion evokes emotion. The way the program is edited is the motion behind the emotional footprint the program leaves on its viewer. The pace and duration of the images and the use of transitions (dissolves or cuts, for example) all affect the motion of the program. You can have a thirty-minute program that drags on and feels like an hour, or you can have the same length program that feels like its only fifteen minutes. That’s the difference been “real time” and “feel time.” No matter the content or the length, with the shortening attention span of today’s audience, you never want a program to feel like it drags on. Before writing, think about how you will keep the pace – the motion – moving in order to bring your audience along for the entire ride.
Preplanning the sight, sound, and motion of your program prior to scripting is all part of The Big Picture in crafting engaging content.