Tag Archives: Millennials

Myth debunked: Shorter isn’t always better

The prevailing wisdom about online video is that shorter is better. People, particularly millennials, don’t have the attention span to watch anything longer than a couple minutes. With the advent of Vine videos, it seems like we’re getting to a point where even a one-minute video is too long. But are there exceptions? Is longer ever beneficial?

Absolutely. Consider this video about a collaboration between guitar-maker Ernie Ball and musician St. Vincent (aka Anna Clark), who set out together to build a guitar that is designed specifically for the female body. Lighter. More streamlined. Distilled down to the essential form. Like St. Vincent’s music, the video is compelling and edgy. It’s also long, at least by today’s standards, clocking in at 6:15.

Nonetheless, it’s gone viral and captured the interest of hundreds of thousands of viewers.

The popularity of a superstar and a plug on Upworthy always help, but here are three reasons from a documentary perspective that the film works:

1.  The video is slow and languid and thus feels almost decadent in its pacing. Distinct pauses are interspersed with anecdotes of St. Vincent’s personal journey into music. The creation of this wider temporal space paves the way to absorb her story gradually over the entire span of the video. The alternative in recent storytelling has been to force feed lots of quick cuts and cryptic sound bites. Fast cutting can be effective in the right context, but in order to make these choices, it’s imperative to understand the featured person’s story and what message or action you’d like to evoke in your viewers.

2.  The piece starts with a strong personal connection with St. Vincent’s first foray into music. Her experience is made all the more vivid by her description of the instruments she has used in her past. This kind of narrative arc takes time to unravel. The end result helps better articulate her journey to finding a solution to an artistic obstacle.

3.  The film’s details, from the close up shots of materials used to craft a guitar to the small hands of the guitarist, highlight the story in a visual capacity. This helps minimize the film’s reliance on the spoken word and makes for smart video content marketing for Ernie Ball. They don’t have to say anything explicitly about how carefully they build their guitars or how painstaking and passionate the process is. It’s self-evident in the production of the film. The lovely details also allow for the pauses and a more graphic, lively visual journey.

Neha Belvalkar - Micro-Documentaries Creative Producer

Neha Belvalkar is a filmmaker and teaching artist who has been engaged with filmmaking since 2006. She is an avid viewer of cinema and lives in pursuit of fresh ideas for her own short films. In her free time, she's on the hunt for the world's best Dosas, the Indian pancakes she has loved since childhood.

Smartphones: That’s where your audience is watching short films

We often remind our clients that understanding their audience is the first step to creating effective short films. Once they step into their audience’s shoes and understand their aspirations, it becomes easier to frame a story and achieve specific goals for their organizations with video content.

Similarly, we need to consider where audiences will engage with content. Is it their computer? A laptop? A tablet?

Increasingly, the answer is a smartphone.

Plain observation can lead you to this conclusion. The sidewalks of pretty much any city on the planet are now filled with pedestrians glued to their smartphones, often with a GIF or a Facebook film in motion. Hard data backs it up. An impressive 46% of all video viewing now takes place on mobile devices. That applies to smartphones and tablets combined, with smartphones exceeding tablets by a factor of 6x in the U.S. Those are the findings from research firm Ooyala’s latest index of video viewing, titled “Millennials Take the Wheel.”

Let that number sink in for a moment: 46%. That means nearly half of all videos are being watched on mobile devices, and nearly 40% on smartphones in particular. Ooyala says that tablet and smartphone plays grew 35% in the past year and 170% since 2013. “Mobile slowly but steadily is becoming the dominant form of video consumption,” writes Jim O’Neill, Ooyala’s principal analyst and videomind editor.

short film rise of mobile video
Phone and tablet plays constituted nearly 50% of all video views in Q42015. Graph courtesy of Ooyala.

What does this mean for you? Among other things, keep your short films in a smartphone-optimized format: short, punchy and dynamic. 69% of all videos watched on smartphones were under 10 minutes, according to the report. True, that means that nearly a third of all videos were longer than 10 minutes, but with people on the go — pulling phones out of their pockets, scanning email, checking out a film that a friend sent a link to, then hopping into a meeting or a car or dinner with the family — brevity is paramount.

Another interesting point from the report: These mobile trends apply equally around the world, with the same roughly 50% mobile viewing metric applying to Europe, the Asia Pacific and North America.

“Millennials are a distinctly global generation, sharing more similarities than generations before them, and they’re driving us to a digital homogeneity that is distinctly mobile,” writes O’Neill.

Andrew Tolve

Andrew Tolve is Micro-Documentaries' Content Strategist. He moonlights as a journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Slate, and National Geographic Adventure, among others. By daylight, he's a stay-at-home dad.