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Telling an Authentic Story Through Video

January 23, 2019 • Sam Grabel

There’s no doubt that video is consumers’ preferred form of content. Even a few years ago, the power of video was understood by Forrester Research, which found that “a minute of video is worth 1.8 million words.” According to Cisco, an estimated 80 percent of global internet traffic and 85 percent of U.S. internet traffic this year will be from video.

The video content revolution is in full effect, with a wide array of apps and software serving as tools for professional and amateur videographers. For some, the option to play with technology and incorporate fancy filters, transitions and effects is too good to pass up. But does this get in the way of good storytelling? Can advances in video technology act as a distraction and dilute the essence of the story?

With our many years of experience telling authentic stories for companies and brands, we’ve learned a lot about what makes for truly authentic video storytelling. Here are a few tips to help you improve your company’s authentic video:

1. Start With the Story, Not the Shoot

It’s a human instinct to tell stories. Little kids play make believe, or your hairdresser tells you about something terrible that happened to her. Storytelling offers a way to make sense of the world and our place in it. As such, filmmaking is just a sophisticated and persuasive way of telling stories we’ve always been telling ourselves.

Pictured: a group of professionals from History Factory and New Balance are planning out the storyboard and timeline for New Balance's upcoming campaign.

2. Mix the Ingredients

The ingredients are structurally the same as any great story, but video allows you to engage more of the senses. By using interviews, narration, music, animation and editing to help tell your story, it’s possible to create something far more memorable than using any of those ingredients on its own.

3. Make It Real

We are inundated with screens, and viewers are more sophisticated than ever. We all sense when we’re being sold, and we can immediately tell when something has been overproduced. Look for real people to tell their story in their own words. It’s always a great starting point for an authentic video.

Much of what we create relies on real people talking about real things. Sometimes, that gets raw and emotional. When creating content for University Health Care System in Augusta, Georgia, for example, we looked for patients, administrators and doctors to tell us their stories, and then recreated moments as honestly as we could. That’s authentic.

4. Turn Off the Sound

Often, people wonder where to begin when they start a project. When figuring out what to shoot or animate, it’s always helpful to think about your project as a silent film. If you couldn’t use any audio, what would you put on screen? That’s a great way to figure out what you need to shoot and how you will edit it together. It’s also a great way to judge a completed film. If you turn the volume down, will it still make sense? Will it still evoke an emotion or provoke a response?

Pictured: a professional from History Factory is editing a video that is either from an oral history interview or an anniversary campaign.

5. Plan for Repurposing

One video, many outlets. Or more accurately, one core video, many edits for many outlets. Knowing how you might use your video across available channels and devices is important at the start, so that you can map out how you might edit the story for different formats and requirements.

Pictured: a screenshot from Adobe Photoshop's video telling the story behind their team.

These five simple steps can help you ideate, plan and execute an upcoming video project. The most important thing to remember here is authenticity. People want to be entertained, but they also want to connect with others. Never is that connection more powerful than when it is organic and authentic. What is your next video project? We would love to help.

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