In the last few weeks I’ve seen some video experts talking about how long should a video be. One suggested talking head videos be from two to five minutes long. Another talks about creating an infomercial as the right form of video. Or some say they should be longer. So should video be 10 to 20 minutes long, 20 to 40 minutes, five to ten, or…?
The real answer is not one of time. It’s one of keeping your audience watching. A one minute video can be too long and a forty minute video can be too short.
Basically, it’s how entertaining is the video?
You see, the real reason you create video is to be in the ENTERTAINMENT business. As one of my mentors, Bill Myers, told me nine years ago, “You are in the entertainment business – when you stop entertaining your audience leaves!”
And making entertaining video is hard. My first video back in 1992, done under the direction of Leonard S. Smith, Emmy winning member of the Directors Guild of America, had thirteen hours of raw video. It took us one month to edit it into a tight 40 minute video. Leonard had an impressive background both onstage and behind the cameras. One of his credits was Assistant Director of the M*A*S*H* Television series. Believe me, learning how to edit from a professional was a life changing event for me. Yes, we used an analog A-B roll video editing suite. Completely different than working with today’s digital video editing software.
One of the laments of a veteran video/movie editor was that with the new digital video editing software everyone thinks they are an editor. In fact, it’s getting harder to find a professional editor today. Everyone thinks they can learn some software and become the next Steven Spielberg.
Right now I’m not teaching how to create “full motion” video. Sure, I did do that when I first got into showing how to create digital video editing back in 1997. But that was mostly for people who were already videographers… who knew how to create good looking video and wanted to upgrade to digital editing.
Today most of those teaching how to create full motion video are not videographers, they are marketers. They recognized a hot market and are ready to show you how to do what they just learned.
And yes, people are watching their poor videos. Even buying products from those videos. Why? People are desperate and video is hot. But wait until the professionals come forward and see how long today’s video experts will last. (I’ll tell you a secret: When the professionals move into the market today’s video experts will be off becoming an expert on some other hot topic.)
One of the reasons I teach how to create screencast videos is that they are pure training tools. You don’t have to keep your customers entertained as much as you need to teach them valuable information. Big difference. Just about anyone can make a screencast video. Few people can make a good, entertaining full motion video.
As one of my customers said when he saw my raw videotape of him talking, “Boring!” But one month later, after I edited it into a tight forty five minute video that he fell in love with, that video became his major product. What you are being taught today by the “experts” is how to make boring video. What you want is to make entertaining video. And that takes superior editing skills, something that no one is teaching you.
My recommendation is to do what you do best. If it’s marketing then focus on that. Get a good videographer to record you giving your message to your customers.
And do make sure the videographer knows what he or she is doing. Check out their work. Not just the camera work. Check how well they edit their videos. Do they know how to do good A-B rolls? Do they know the trick of creating a good ChromaKey video (green screen)? Because those are the things that make the big difference.
Remember, you can be “boring” or “entertaining” in your videos. The difference comes in edit. That’s why they give Oscars to film editors!