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5 Video Trends To Be Wary Of In 2020

In the last 10 years we've seen huge leaps in the technology available to video producers at very attractive prices. The quality & creative opportunities that were once the luxury of big budgets, such as 6K resolution & high frame rates, are now accessible to independent videographers and small production companies.


The good news is that this has led to a much higher standard of online video. With barriers to entry so low and image quality so high, owning a video camera isn't enough. You need creative ideas, an artistic eye, and solid technique. In theory, there's nothing to stop you producing something that looks and feels like an Apple commercial on your mobile phone. In fact, that's exactly what Apple did.


The not so good news is these innovations can sometimes lead producers to choose style over substance. And it's understandable; they look great on showreels and clients feel as though they're getting bang for their buck.


But cinematic technique will never be a substitute for good ideas. In fact, bells and whistles can actually detract from the message behind your content, and in some cases the message is forgotten about completely. As they say, just because you can doesn't mean you should.


At Videoninja, we believe that every video should have a purpose, whether that's to inform, entertain, engage, or educate. And our creative choices are guided by that purpose. The creative choices below can produce stunning and engaging video when used in the right circumstances. But when they're overused, and they very often are, they can kill your content.


1. Slow Motion


We all love a well-placed slow motion shot. It gives us a fresh and detailed look at dynamic scenes; it can stretch out dramatic moments; it can give particular moments gravity or a dreamlike quality.


The trouble is, you'll see many videos shot entirely in slow-motion, even when it doesn't enhance the viewer's experience. Online, where attention is so scarce, the result can often be unnecessarily drawn out and, well, boring. Even if the message is there and the content is interesting, a tiresome delivery will lose the audience.


Slow-motion, although cinematic, can really spoil the natural flow of information. In addition, it can make normal behaviours and expressions feel unnatural, and make the viewer feel removed or disconnected from the content.


2. Gimbal & Slider Shots


At one time, the only way to move the camera smoothly from point A to point B involved heavy metal tracks laid on the ground, cranes operated by multiple people, and complex body-mounted camera systems. Recently, small motorised gimbals and carbon fibre sliders mean that silky smooth camera moves can be set up in seconds by one person.


And video producers are moving the camera more than ever. This can make otherwise static scenes more dynamic, and help to control the focus of a scene by moving the camera along with the subject.


The troube is, sometimes the camera never stops. This causes two big problems. Firstly, a moving camera can distract the viewer from the subject of a shot. As the brain processes the shift in geography, it isn't 100% focused on the content. For many business video projects where effective communication is the goal, a constantly moving camera can get in the way.


Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the overreliance on gimbals and sliders can influence the entire direction of a video. You've probably already seen corporate videos with gimbal shots that follow people as they walk down corridors, or even the classic hand in a wheatfield at sunset.


But rarely do these shots contribute or enhance the story you're trying to tell. What you end up with is a rambling, ineffecient video that risks missing the point completely. They are included, dare I say, only to make the video feel more cinematic.


3. The Washed Out Look


At some point over the last 10 years, the word cinematic became associated with a kind of washed out, low contrast, desaturated look. I can't be entirely sure why, but I'll have a go.


Expensive cinema cameras shoot with tremendous dynamic range, meaning your highlights aren't blown out, and the shadows aren't crushed to black. To cut a long story short, what this generally results in is a more vivid image that matches what the human eye sees. You'll catch details in both bright skies and in dark corners.


Most cameras now have a flat colour profile option, which results in a marginally better dynamic range. However, if you're not shooting with a top-end cinema camera, this is often at the expense of colour information.


If this type of footage isn't processed properly by a skilled colorist, you end up with a washed out image with unpleasant skin tones. Sure, it may have a cinematic feel to it, but when you're trying to stand out on a social media feed, or grab someone's attention in a YouTube banner ad, a washed out image won't do you any favours.


4. Shallow Focus


As cameras with bigger sensors have become more affordable, the soft focus look has become sought after by many video shooters. It means you can focus on a very shallow plain of the image, and it's often a quick fix for a flat composition.


Selective focus can help to seperate a subject from it's background or foreground, and is on the whole very pleasing to the eye. It can lift an interviewee from their background, and give beauty and fashion videos that intimate, dreamy feel.


But shallow focus should be a creative choice depending on the subject matter. When it's applied as a quick fix to every shot you often find videos are visually pleasing but short on content. You can lose a sense of space and detail in the background that are important to the story. By isolating things from their surroundings too often, you lose a lot of context.


What's more, unless meticulously planned and executed, you'll often find the subject coming in and out of focus as they or the camera move. This can be very disruptive to your audience's attention.


5. Drone Footage


Finally, the explosion of affordable drone technology needs no introduction. It seems like everyone - from the the local bakery to the ice cream parlour - is using drone footage to drum up business.


But unless location, geography or scenery are significant to your message, even the most stunning drone footage achieves very little. Your money and effort is better spent producing something more relevant to the interests of your target audience.


So, what does this mean to you?


This isn't meant as an attack on beautiful images or the word cinematic. It's only a reminder that beautiful images are not enough, and they can even get in the way of good content. You need creative, thoughtful ideas that connect the right message with the right audience. Only then can you start to make creative choices about how best to execute the idea.


This is why pre-production is the most important part of our process. We're ready to work with you, your marketing or sales team, your inhouse production team or your agency to produce smart video content that produces results.


Whether you just have a few ideas floating around, or you're ready to start shooting, we're here to talk.

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© Paris Daniel Wharton 2020