Video Production – Storytelling

November 29, 2008 by  Filed under: Video 

The best videos tell a story. People love stories and it is the story that draws them in emotionally.  

Now, I can just hear people saying, “But I’m trying to sell lawnmowers. That’s not exactly a subject that lends itself to storytelling. Storytelling is just for fictionalized video productions.”

OK, I understand where you are coming from, but hang with me here. 

A story can be woven into ANY subject matter. The lawnmower example? Find a customer who won a landscaping award based in part on their beautiful lawn. Or, find a physically handicapped customer whose life was made easier when they gave up the clunky push mower for one of your fantastic riding lawnmowers.


Any decent novelist will tell you that characters are the heart of their story. Most novelists come up with the characters before they dream up the plot. Often, they will say the story writes itself once they know their characters well. What would this person do in this situation? There’s your story. 

Next time you watch TV, pay close attention to the commercials. Most TV commercials do a fantastic job of developing characters in just 30 seconds. 

My favorite example is the series of Apple Computer commercials featuring the Mac and PC characters.   Both characters are the personification of the image Apple wants to give to each product. Mac is hip and cool; PC is a nerd. Any viewer sees that immediately. 

Exploiting clichés is usually necessary when you are trying to tell a story with delineated characters in a brief period of time. The P.C. police will get mad at me for that but tough beans. It is true.    

A one-minute video production is not a novel. To get your point across quickly, you have to rely on pre-conceived notions. You CAN do that without being offensive. 

Since video production is a visual medium, visual clichés rule. When they cast the Apple commercials, I’m sure all the fat, ugly actors were considered for the PC role only.  Wardrobe probably wanted to add a bow tie and high-waisted pants. 

The easiest way to add a story to your video production is to find a person (or make one up) that personifies the idea you are trying to get across. Are you wanting to produce a video on the dry subject of economics?   Find a family that is struggling economically and tell their story. Take lots of heart-warming close-ups of their adorable baby.  

EMOTIONALISM is the meat of any story, so don’t be afraid to go for the jugular.

Even if your video production is just going to be a talking-head explaining how to assemble a bookshelf, you can add emotionalism. You do this by making sure your on-camera host displays personality. Then you add some catchy music and flashy graphics. Those techniques alone will go a long way to adding emotionalism, and a story, to your video production.   

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