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A Video State of Mind

I can remember the first time I saw a video on the Internet. It took forever to download over the painfully slow 14.4 bps modem, the quality was atrocious, and it was only a few seconds long, but… Wow. It was so exciting — I was watching a video, with sound, right there on my computer screen! Experiencing something besides pages and pages of text and still images was nothing short of awesome.

Fast forward almost twenty years. Chances are you’re aware of the prevalence of videos that now saturate almost every aspect of our daily lives. They’re on our phones, our favorite websites, highway billboards, sports arena LED screens, broadcast and cable TV, interactive installations in museums and other attractions. It’s even on gas pumps and, incredibly, in restrooms. But despite their near-omnipresence, video can still exert the same ability to pull in and captivate an audience’s attention.

How does video continue to do that?

Video, when done right, combines script, sound and visuals in such a way that it compels the viewer to watch…and then to keep watching just to see what happens next. It can take what might otherwise be mundane, technical information and present it in a fresh, exciting light. With such an effective tool, producers can tailor each video to a specific purpose, with messaging that catches the eyes and ears of a target audience. It’s a superb way to tell a story.

And what exactly makes video so appealing?

There is an entire spectrum of elements that can be used to make up a video, and any given production might use as little as one of these elements or most of them. For instance, a video can consist simply of well-shot footage timed to a powerful music piece. Or it can be made up of a mixture of 3D animation, compositing (layering of graphical objects), motion graphics, sound effects — the works. To us as video producers, the availability of these components allows us to create essentially anything we need in order to capture and hold that viewer’s focus. From realistic virtual sets and objects, to animated characters, to eye-catching motion text, to gorgeous on-location footage — the possibilities are endless.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: with such impressive-sounding digital wizardry going on, producing a video must be both time-consuming and expensive, right?

You might be surprised.

Just as the messaging of a video can be tailored to a particular story, so can the way we go about building it. As a digital artist, a big part of my job is to execute ideas not only effectively, but efficiently. Sure, I could build an entire virtual city complete with walking, talking citizens, road construction, and snarled traffic jams. But would that really be necessary to achieve the results the client is looking for? Having been involved in video for the past decade has allowed me a good amount of insight as to what’s too much, what’s not enough and what’s just right. Being limited by budget constraints doesn’t mean ending up with a less-than-dazzling piece of video.

When I saw my first video on the Internet, I had no idea that I would one day be creating them. But I guess I could say that my goal with each project I’m involved in now is to recreate that same “wow” factor that I experienced way back then — whether it’s being viewed on a mobile device, website, billboard, television screen or, yes, even in a bathroom stall.