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Neanderthal Video Production Made Easy

Cave dwellers in prehistoric times had it tough.

Trying to avoid being licked by a sabre tooth tiger was one thing. Living without a smart phone was an entirely different proposition. But that is just what they did. Entertainment, following a hard day’s Wooly Mammoth hunting, would involve sitting around listening to stories handed down from Glog to Glug. And cave paintings stand testament to the fulfillment of visual need. A sort of Paleozoic Pinterest.

 So when Placoderms came flapping out of the great oceans, and eventually turned into hominids six million years ago, before evolving into the Homosapiens we know and love some 5.8 million years later, there have been storytellers and an audience. And whilst that audience has become a little more sophisticated, and can now be found in lots of different caves (aka segmentation), the fundamental need to hear compelling stories hasn’t changed.

People, plot, and place form the fundamental building blocks of any story. Stories of heroic doings, handed down from generation to generation have stood the test of time because of three simple Ps.

Living and breathing television for the past decade or so taught me one thing. If you don’t have those three Ps in place the audience, by and large, don’t watch. Story treatment, great contributors, and a compellling narrative deliver audience longevity.

So what has happened to video production in the B2B world? Why has the corporate video become some kind of sick joke? Sure there are some great examples of beautifully produced work, with beautifully crafted, and tightly scripted story-lines.... but they are as rare as mammoth droppings.

Did Moses come down the mountain with an eleventh commandment: When producing B2B video thou shalt forget all the fundamental principles of storytelling?

I accept the B2B world isn’t always going to have blockbusting narratives, but creativity and remaining true to some concrete principles of storytelling can reap audience winning rewards.

 As a commissioning editor I used to hear stories sounding great on paper being spiked because of ineffectual treatments. Conversely I also saw mediocre stories made brilliant by creative adherence to the three Ps.

 If you film the CEO giving a five minute diatribe on this years results, or the head of product development waxing lyrical about version 12 of Acme Accounts, all shot behind their desks in head office there is a chance the audience won't engage.

Three months into my time on the darkside I have come to an overwhelming conclusion: B2B moving image production could do with some broadcast discipline. 

 As our audiences become evermore segmented, and evermore aware of what constitutes a quality broadcast proposition, moving image content production needs to “sing” to stand out. 

 Perhaps the time is right to draw a line in the cave and start going back to basics by asking some simple editorial questions.

 Is a talking head the best way to present the story? Is your office the ideal backdrop? Do you have to use a corporate executive to tell the story? Why not consider a reconstruction on your next case study video? Why not inject a sense of drama?  What is it about the way you tell your story that makes your audience care? Will your video pass the ultimate "so what" test?

Our in-house team recently completed a pro-bono job for the British Dyslexia Association. The video is part of an integrated campaign to persuade people to sign an online petition to make dyslexia training mandatory for new teachers. It's essentially a corporate video. We tried to do something a little different....

Applying some fundamental broadcast and story-telling discipline to your next video project will not only ensure it delivers a bit of ROI, but it might just get a slightly larger audience than was enjoyed by our distant Neanderthal storytelling cousins all those years ago.....