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The Creative Maths Of Video Making

The Creative Maths of Video Making

Data, stats and paint-by-number video templates are knocking on the Branded Content Directors’ door. What or who should a brand believe in? We discuss the creative maths of video making.

Rising Through the Ranks or Maths Degree?

Last year, a Silver Bullet Director found himself sharing a car with a team member of the media agency overseeing a branded video shoot. Together, they spoke of their passion for video content. “I just love making video content, it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do” explained the agency worker.

The conversation led on to where they had both studied. The Director explained how they had risen through the ranks, studying Film Studies and then taking the hard route through production companied. When the attention turned to the agency worker, it was revealed he had a BSc and Masters in Mathematics.

Directors and Producers, like those working at Silver Bullet, have come to accept that those commissioning Branded Content may not have risen through the ranks. On the other hand, the brand marketer or agency are usually keen to oversee the creative video making process and often hope to become actively involved.

So, is there a right or wrong path to take?

filming as time lapse video

The Measure of Popularity

How do you measure the popularity of a TV programme? The most accurate approach is to lick your finger and hold it in the wind. In the UK, we still rely on BARB figures. Often you’ll see headlines about the popularity of a TV show, but did you know this is just based on 5,000 households? It’s difficult to consider 5,000 households an accurate portrayal of all households.

Throughout TV history, programme makers gauge the success of shows from these numbers (and of course our inherent tastes).

A Fear of Digital Content

When you think about this, it’s easy to understand why digital content (and the accompanying detailed stats) strike fear into the hearts of TV producers. Only in the last decade have we been able to delve down into the numbers and ascertain what’s actually popular. For the first decade or so, it’s all been about the ‘views’.

Algorithms Vs Creative Rhythms

This is a clear area for conflict between producers and clients. Here are a few key points every producers and client hears:

  • “The brand didn’t spend enough (or anything) on media
  • “The brand didn’t spend the money in the right places”
  • “We needed an online publisher partner involved”
  • “It wasn’t PR’d properly”
  • “The talent didn’t tweet about it enough”

Effectively, there’s a lot ‘it’s not my fault’ statements being thrown around when high quality branded content isn’t viewed enough. The brand will wonder why months of hard work hasn’t gone ‘viral’.

So, is it all about the view count?

We’ve attended many discussions recently where brands and agencies emphasise that ‘total views’ aren’t the most important metric. It’s often more important to know you’ve been viewed by your target audience in your target space – it’s a refreshing opinion.

Can We Use Numbers to Make Content?

As content producers, we’re happy to see a recent focus on PTC (play-to-completion) rates for the videos we make. It’s something we all agree on, if a viewer makes it to the end of the programme you’ve made, you’ve done a good job.

There’s another key message here too. Brand Managers have recently been commenting on amateur productions. You could use a loose acquaintance with a camera to make video content. If you feature a hard-hitting image or high-profile talent, you may even get a high number of clicks. The problem is, amateur content will disappoint and cause major damage to a brand’s reputation.

Quality film making comes with the experience of production companies and directors, only then will people make it till the end.

Facebook now report the length people see content in milliseconds (yes you read that right, milliseconds). It takes, on average, 2.5 seconds (1.7 on mobile) for someone to decide whether to click on video content on their newsfeed.

So How Does this Affect Production?

If you ask Directors and Producers to create content with this in mind, you’ll see a range of emotions. Embracing it will mean the frequent use of hero shots and talent up front. However, this can ruin the craft and build-up to big reveals or emotional arcs.

But wait, there’s more…

There are countless other areas that could be deemed important:

  • Content with the sound off
  • Getting the brand in early
  • Content that can be played in gif style loops
  • Square videos and portrait for Instagram stories

What do you take into consideration and what do you ignore?

Of course, it doesn’t end here. It’s an age-old digital video debate, how long should your content be? Facebook offer an interesting answer:

“As short as it can be, as long as it needs to be”

Not only must we consider total viewers, demographics, PTC rates, click-throughs, etc. but we could also find ourselves lost in the comment section below or countless tweets a piece of content sparks.

video editor

A Harmony of Creativity and Numbers

The answer for us, has to be a harmony of creativity and numbers. Use the numbers to inform, but don’t let them dictate the content.

Objectively, a Director or Producer is able to edit and then watch the finished content with a viewer in mind. They are able to place themselves above the shoot and their individual opinions of scenes, shots, talent and scripts. The ability to put yourself in the viewer’s mind, like you’re watching content for the first time, is a skill built from years of experience.

If you’re able to get drawn into the content, feel the emotions, the arc, the pace, watch to the end and come away with a great story, you can say ‘job done!”

It’s important to check in with the numbers but not become obsessed with the, Where is the audience going to view the content? What is the audience demographic? How will they be viewing the content? And finally, how will you measure success?

The world of programme making is changing, change with it or become just another number.

If you’re interested in the production of exquisite branded video content for your company, find out more about how Silver Bullet can help you create your branded video here.

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