When talking about future video production needs with a client last week, I outlined several video animation projects we were working on and he asked the question ‘Why use animation?’. Good question!
In answering that question, and as a follow up to our ‘What’s Your Story?’ post, I thought it might be useful to share about the role that vision plays in storytelling.
As we discussed in our ‘What’s Your Story?’ post, the story is the key to successfully communicating your message to customers. But if the story alone is key, why use video?
The Importance of Visual Storytelling
Many studies attest to the importance of ‘body language’ and other visual cues in communication. The importance of these visual cues speaks to the significance of vision to human emotion. ‘A picture is worth 1,000 words’ isn’t one of the most well known sayings for no reason!
This means visual storytelling is vitally important to effectively convey our message, and because communicating to our audiences in person is not always an available option, particularly at scale, video is our tool of choice.
So what do we need to consider in order to visually tell our story?
Vision That Supports The Story
Vision can be used quite literally to tell the story. For example, if a narrator says ‘It was a beautiful morning,’ and the vision shows a colorful sunrise, the vision supports the notion of the beautiful morning. This visual storytelling is powerful because the message is reinforced not just by what the audience is hearing, but also by what they are seeing, so the point is communicated via two senses, rather than just a single sense of seeing (e.g., reading) or hearing the story alone.
Think about it: When we read a book or listen to a podcast and we hear ‘it was a beautiful morning’, our minds immediately create a picture and store the picture as the memory, not necessarily the words. This is because the vision is the more powerful memory tool.
By providing the audience the vision using video, we make it easier for them and ensure they see a more specific image because we provide that exact vision rather than the audience having to build it themselves. One advantage of this approach is we enable the audience to experience not just the vision of the sunrise, but other associated aspects of the scene as well. For example, perhaps the vision shows the sunrise over the ocean and the sun peeking through a cloudy morning. These details contribute to the exact visual experience we want the viewer to have.
Vision That Tells The Story
In the example of the morning sunrise above, we added visual elements to the story of the sun rising over the ocean — elements that may not have been explicitly stated by the narrator. These additional visual elements may help provide dimension to the story or they may be a necessary aspect of the story itself.
Let’s say our story relates to a fishing boat. Our vision has already started to set the scene for this story without the narrator having to spend time to explain this. Let’s take another example: The narrator says ‘the detective entered the room’ and the vision shows a darkened room, which is in a mess: a body lies on the ground with blood spilled and furniture overturned. In an instant, the audience has gathered a significant amount of information without the narrator having to take a long time describing what is in the room. Consider how much more quickly you process information about a story when watching a play or movie versus reading the same information in a book. Several pages of description can be visually conveyed in just a few seconds.
Using visual elements in a video enables us to either provide our audience with a much richer story experience or to save significant time conveying that story to our audience. These techniques, or a combination of these, is a powerful way to use video to not just tell the story, but to amplify it in ways our audience will appreciate.
Vision That Extrapolates The Story
Now let’s address the question ‘why animate?’. With the above techniques in mind, we can see how animation helps us to explain complex concepts much more efficiently. If we attempted to just explain these concepts verbally with the expectation that the audience will construct the same mental vision that we explained above, it would require viewers to have an unreasonable amount of focus (or even be beyond their ability to envision). Animation, therefore, can greatly assist by streamlining these complexities into simple models that are much easier to understand.
Our client, Eton Solutions faced this dilemma when wanting to explain why their software solution is ideally suited to Fund Accounting, one of the most difficult functions to manage for a family office. We answered by providing them an animated video that identified what these problems were (establishing credibility) and why their solution addressed these issues (the story’s payoff).
Vision That Is The Story
We can also rely fully on visual storytelling and tell the story completely without narration in video. When done right, the vision can support the complete explanation of the story. Think of the cinema industry before the advent of the ‘talkies,’ when vision was the only means of communicating the story. Text was used only sparingly (to avoid fatiguing the audience) where the vision action wasn’t quite able to explain the story quickly or completely enough.
We used this same strategy in another video for our client, Eton Solutions. This fast 45-second video that we created tells the story of their mobile app. Furthermore, this video uses the methods outlined above to tell more than just the literal story of the features: it leaves the audience with the subliminal story message that the mobile app is packed with features, not just what we have outlined in the video. The story message is therefore to provoke the audience to seek more.
Got a story you want to tell? No matter what your story is, think about how video can be used to tell your story creatively and in a way that goes beyond just words.
Note: with the exception of the Charlie Chaplin video, the examples contained in this post are productions we have created for customers.