How NOT to Create Effective Video Content

How NOT to Create Effective Video Content

One of the things I get hired most often to do is help companies create compelling video content. I’ve done it for eBay, MediaTrust, RingRevenue, and the Santa Barbara International Film Festival – to name a few.

There are a few basic rules I try to live by when approaching a video content strategy:

  • Shoot for the highest production value possible – steady well-lit video and clean audio
  • Stay on point – stick to the subject matter
  • Respect your audience’s time – edit videos to keep them short and concise

I ran across Robert Scoble’s latest ranting at CES and he didn’t abide by any of those basic principles above.

First off, if you’re going to make a 44 minute video, you better have something pretty damn compelling to talk about. Even a video that is professionally shot with great audio and lighting can get unbearable somewhere around the 15 minute mark. In this case we’re talking about an unedited shaky video shot with something on par with an iPhone camera. For almost 45 minutes he rolls camera and walks around the trade show floor having random conversations about CES. I was starting to feel sea sick about 4 minutes in.

Do you think that is compelling video?

Scoble is a brand-name in the technology space and he can get away with this. In fact, as I’m writing this, the video has received over 5400 views in 11 days. But just because he can do it, doesn’t mean he should. It seems lazy to me.

If you want to cover CES, break it down into clips that appeal to a niche audience. For example, in his piece Scoble talks about a Panasonic 3D HDTV and a new RIM tablet. Why not create separate segments for the Panasonic and the  tablet? You’ll not only get more content, but it will be more targeted to a specific audience. Plus, you’ll rank much higher in SERPS if you tag and optimize a video around individual subjects rather than throwing the entire digital kitchen sink in a single video.

It’s hard enough to lead someone to your site to find your video assets. Once they get there, reward them by offering compelling succinct content that respects their time and intelligence. Turning on your iPhone and letting it roll for 45 minutes while you walk a tradeshow floor is a bit insulting to me.

  • Heh, what’s funny is I’ve gotten a ton of emails and even a lot of calls from people saying they LOVED that video. Why? Because they couldn’t go to CES and it was the one that gave you the scope of walking the floor.

    By the way, I used a Canon 5D MKII, with a monopod, a Rode stereo microphone, and a 17-40mm F4.0 lens. Total cost for that rig, more than $3,000. It was NOT an iPhone.

    And I did do some separate videos, plus, that wasn’t the point. Sometimes I don’t do stuff with high production values like our videos over at (which are done with two pro cameras, a professional camera guy, etc) and the fact that YouTube counts views as people who watch a decent of the way through a video shows people were NOT turned off by the length or style of this video.

  • Robert,

    Like I said, you’re a unique brand in the tech space and I’m sure you do have a contingent that loved that video. Would you disagree though that a company or an individual starting out should steer away from long videos like the example here?

    As far as other videos you’ve done, I know you have a library of higher quality work. I’m not disputing the body of your work – specifically this one 45 minute walking tour.

    As far as the camera used – I’m pretty shocked actually. I’ve owned a 5D MKII and I currently own a 7D and shoot on it weekly for client work. I honestly thought you shot that with an iPhone. In my experience the new breed of video DSLRs don’t really lend themselves to handheld work – especially 45 minutes of handheld work – without the use of some serious stabilization equipment.