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  • Writer's pictureDuncan Curtis - Director


Updated: Jul 20, 2023


Firstly, let me clarify the title of this piece. I’m not saying that the look, pace and style of your video isn’t important, it most certainly is, as those are the elements that grab and hold your audience’s attention. However, too often the intended message and purpose of a video can get lost behind glitzy imagery, extremely fast cuts and overly busy screens.

The modern trend for Instagram, vertical video

In recent years, the rise of TikTok and Instagram-style content has increased demand for fast, short, disposable videos and businesses will ignore this trend at their peril. When used correctly, these platforms serve as powerful marketing tools, ideal for instantly informing customers and colleagues of events and promotions. One particularly effective use is teaser videos, designed to lead the viewer to more comprehensive informational videos on company websites and other hosting platforms. Short, social media platform videos definitely have their place, but it’s the longer form, corporate videos I want to concentrate on here.

In a previous blog, I mentioned that the perfect length for a corporate video is based on many factors – the intended audience, the type of video (full presentations and in-depth instructional videos will be naturally longer than a product or company promotional video) and the amount of information you need to get across, in the most concise, clear and efficient way. Effective company promotional videos can be anywhere between one minute and six minutes long, with the ideal being between three and four minutes. Any longer than that and you risk boring and disengaging your audience.

At the other extreme, however, there is a danger of trying to cram as much information as possible into as short a time as possible. Clients and producers often use graphics, text, voiceover and quick-cut images in an attempt to get their messages across quickly, but often that text, voiceover and imagery do not align and appear on-screen for too short a time to digest. This is where the intended message can become jumbled, confused and incoherent.


In the case of on-screen text, viewers need time to read the words on screen. Between one and three words on screen work well for fast cuts, but if you cut away from too many words on-screen too quickly, the viewer’s will struggle to

Keep text to a minimum and don't cut away too soon.

catch-up. Their concentration will be broken and the rest of the information in the video will be lost.

Similarly, if a voiceover doesn’t match the text on screen – i.e. if the text is giving separate information from that given in the audio, it is difficult for the viewer to fully take in both forms of information. Again, as the brain tries to catch-up, it generally gives up and the message beyond that point will be missed.


Split-screen is an effective tool to show more images in a short time

Another prevalent trend nowadays is the use of very fast-cut imagery, edited to a fast-paced music track. Some videos bombard the viewer with so many images, which last mere fractions of a second, for two or three minutes. The effect on the viewer is, again, information overload, the eyes and brain quickly become weary and the viewer switches off very quickly. There is nothing wrong with quick-cut sequences within a video (they can be an effective tool at the start of a video to quickly introduce the information that follows) but these sequences work best when interspersed with some slower sections – an interviewee in vision, animated text over an image or more leisurely cut sequences, for example. These give the viewer time to breathe and catch up before you introduce the next rapid sequence.

Remember, we are not talking about social media teasers or promotions here, but the slightly longer form company videos or event highlights. A quick-cut, ten second sequence ending on a page of information text is an ideal promotional tool for social media. A three-minute video of constant, rapid-fire images will be more detrimental than beneficial for your business or event video.


The other mistake we often see being made is the use of irrelevant, ‘arty’ images, which have little to do with the message of the video. This is sometimes due to inadequate planning, sometimes to the lack of choice in the footage that was shot, but often down to video producers

Beautiful shots, but are they relevant to your message?

being too close to the footage they have filmed. A slow-motion shot of a heron in flight against a beautiful sky or a smooth, tracking shot across a puddle as the rain forms ripples may be visually stunning, but not necessarily relevant to the event or business. Such shots only take up valuable time in a final edit and often divert the viewer’s attention from the purpose and message of the video.

If the interviewee is talking about the product, show the product.

Similarly, if an interviewee is talking about their popular makeup range, it’s probably best to show shots of the product rather than employees on the phone in the office. Careful planning is essential to ensure you capture the relevant images. However, we also understand that things can change on location in terms of information and client requests. With this in mind, it is often best to record the interviews first to ensure you capture suitable images to illustrate the information given in those interviews.


Moving camera - stylish production but not at the expense of the message.

The best videos, of course, include creative, well considered footage designed to complement and enhance the message and purpose of the video. A company promotional video that includes tracking, gimbal and drone footage, clever framing and good choice of shots in the edit will make your business stand out amongst all the others … as long as it’s not at the expense of the message! Every video should tell a story and, like any good essay or tale, have a clear introduction, informational middle section and resolution that aligns with the purpose of your video. A jumble of shots, randomly placed with information presented in the wrong order, will confuse an audience, no matter how beautiful the imagery.

Good production companies will always offer advice as to the best approach, but remember, you have a much better knowledge of your company and product than they do. Ask questions, make requests and suggestions. Video production is collaborative and the best producers will take your knowledge and add their creative touch to deliver a video that will promote your business in the clearest, most effective way possible. It’s sometimes easy for producers to get lost in their art, so if you feel your message is being lost in the creative process, let the production company know both at the edit stage (if shots or sequences don’t work in terms of your message, ask that they be changed or removed) but especially before the filming begins. There is no substitute for good planning.

Happy filming!

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