By: Lisa Slagle
Last week, I was in a Skype meeting with one of my all-time favorite companies, talking logistics for something we are working on together that I consider a dream project. I can’t reveal much, but I can say it involves a lot of snowboarding. They asked me to describe my company’s process for video, and I was happy to answer that question.
There are a bazillion things to consider when you go to make a video— actors, music, voice-over actors, locations, motion, transitions, titles, speed rates, equipment, colors, clothing, editing techniques, lighting, etc. but in all reality, none of these things matter if you can’t get people to feel feelings.
Anyone can gather some footage and edit it together. Just about anyone could probably make a decent, or even good, video.
For example, here’s an Instagram video I made in two runs and three chairlift rides entirely with my iPhone. (And, of course, our trusty designer, Amanda, as the main subject of the video, ripping around on her snowboard.) This took very little effort, and it came out perfectly for what it needed to be: a smile-when-you-see-it, happy pow day, social media post. It’s good, not great.
The difference between a good video and a great video, is the ability to make people feel feelings.
The way to make people feel the feels is through the art of story.
Shred montages are fun— I love high-energy shreddits as much as anyone--but if there is no plot, you’re putting a ceiling on your video to be good, not great.
Storytelling has been around since the beginning of human existence. It’s how we connect with each other and share the human experience. It’s the transfer of laughter or empathy or sadness or motivation.
A great video needs a story.
And a story needs a story arc. A story arc carries a character or situation from one place to another—simply put, to effect change.
My favorite example is The Lion King. (Because I was one of those weird, little kids with Timon and Pumbaa t-shirts, backpacks, and shoes, riding my bike around, happily singing “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King.”) Anyway…..
A writer named Christopher Booker theorized that there are only 7 possible story arcs out there-- read about them here. The Lion King is a Voyage and Return plot.
The feelings you want people to feel are locked in the transformative part of the story, where the change happens. As a creative agency, it’s our job to unlock those feelings, to make people feel something.
If we don’t do our job right, it’s just another montage video.
And we all know that the outdoor industry is famous for its montage videos. GoPros are as popular as ever.
I love GoPro. I remember watching this edit while I lived in Salt Lake City-- the Hero 2 had just come out--and feeling so stoked. This is when POV footage was just becoming popular. I think I watched that video like, thirty times, and then, of course, immediately went out and bought not one, but two GoPros, because yes, I did want to be a hero. From multiple angles. (Interestingly enough, the story GoPro told with that video was an internal one within the customer’s mind, based upon desire— watching what I wanted to do, the experience I wanted to capture—that what I was watching could be my footage/my point of view, and the motivation to go buy a camera and start living even harder and going even bigger.)
But of course, my GoPro footage just edited into a montage with no real story is just my semi-rad POV footage set to music. It’s good, often beautiful or artistic, but with no story arc, my edit isn’t going to be great.
I can't emphasize this enough-- you need to bring plot to your edits.
Think about your company, or the company you work for. What is your company’s story? What’s the story arc? Where is the change?
That’s what you should be filming.
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