Stuff (and things) about making videos

Here is a post I wrote for the (very marvellous) Comms2Point0 blog about making videos...

Stuff (and things) about making videos

Last year I made ‘The Gubbins of Government’, a simple animated video about the future structure of government services.

I made it to explain something that had been confusing me. It turned out to be a real success - lots of people seem to find it useful.

Trimming a long story, it led Mark Hainge and me to start a video business - Eggvids. We make simple, catchy videos that explain complicated stuff. This post explains some of the things we think are important about making them.

Pleeease get on with it. Lots of videos start with music, natty animations, folks saying who they are. 10 seconds: I’m drumming my fingers. 30 seconds: kettle on. Folks looking for an explanation want to know straight away if they are on the right track. Say what the video is about in the first breath.

Find a catchy thing. On average each day, every human being on the planet watches 2.43 umptillion YouTube videos. Or something like that. There has to be a reason for yours to stick. We use humour: a dissonance, a fresh metaphor, unusual phrasing, an absurd image, a silly voice or whatever occurs on the day. This is the hard bit. It consumes a lot of the production time.

Tell stories about people. People respond to people. Like my cousin Bryony from Guildford in the Gubbins video, Brian Bentley our laptop-gnawing owner of Mechlex Ltd, Martin Gaffer the CEO of Citytown Council or Steve Techyman (Martin’s technical man). I should say we have tried to cast the rather scary looking Martin Nuthatch several times but haven’t yet got him past any of our clients…

We are, however, persevering.

Be simple. “Make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler”, said Einstein. For us, this means: using simple words rather than multiform convolutions (or worse - jargon); creating diagrams with no embroidery; not animating everything in sight; making everything plain except for “the thing” that needs to stand out; and, when the video is nearly finished, going back to subtract that which does not add.

Renounce the cliche. Cliches, visual or verbal, are a contagion. Folks either attach their own meaning to them or roll their eyes or else shove off. Cliches get in the way. Avoid them like the… er… plague.

Be human. This means lots of things. Ruthlessly replacing jargon with language that ordinary humans understand. Being nice. Not presuming stuff. And of course persistently using the words “thing” and “stuff”.

End with a bang. BANG!

With thanks to Dan Dan the Communicating Man.