Making videos is our love, but telling stories is our passion. Lately, we have spent a lot of time talking about purpose and what it means to us when we sit down with clients and start planning out the narrative that they want to tell onscreen. Last week on the blog, we talked about capital ‘P’ Purpose, and lowercase ‘p’ purpose. Purpose is the client’s intent in commissioning a video, whether it be for advertising, employee engagement, or anything else. Lowercase ‘p’ purpose is every minute detail and production decision that goes into making a video for our clients. (If you missed our video explanation of purpose, look below and take a peek!)
Today we want to focus on the purpose our videos are made with and not the Purpose of the videos (although we believe that those two things go hand in hand). The production details and decisions included in our lowercase ‘p’ definition of purpose can range from lighting to camera angles, and beyond. This post is meant to be both: a pro-tip full explanation of how structuring a video set looks; and a behind the scenes look at how we take every single, miniscule detail into account when we are planning and on set at a video shoot.
If you stop and think about how your day went yesterday, one of the key elements to the timbre of your day was probably the weather. If it was a bright, sunny, warm day, chances are that your mood was slightly lifted. If it was dark, rainy, and dreary, chances are you felt a little more sluggish. Now, we’re not creating weather on our video sets, we do intentionally set the mood and tone for a shoot with lighting. Here are some examples:
This photo is bright and airy, with a high key light. This image is meant to convey a feeling of brightness, and to highlight the fun, easy-going nature of the speaker.
Now, this photo is the opposite. For this shoot, we toned the key lighting down, which lends itself to a darker, tenser feeling for the viewer. By making a simple change in lighting, the entire mood of the video shifts. By communicating with your audience via lighting, you are deepening the Purpose of your video by more accurately emotionally connecting with your viewer.
Lens Choices and Framing:
We have all heard some variation of the phrase, “to see something from a different lens.” While metaphorically, the idea that viewing something from a different perspective can change your opinion on a matter, it is also practically true. The lens that a character is filmed through, plus the way they are framed on screen can communicate multitudes to your audience. If we shoot with a lens that allows for a shallow depth of field, meaning the background is out of focus, it gives the viewer a clear directive as to what’s important in the frame. A viewer’s attention is automatically drawn to areas of an image that are the sharpest and have the most contrast. Using this information, we can compose a frame that draws the viewer’s eye to exactly what we want to hold their attention. Another option is to use a wide lens which allows the viewer to take in the entire frame and make their own decisions about the details.
Framing is another important element to consider. By putting the subject in the above photo to one side of the frame, the character has the ability to look around the frame, making the viewing experience comfortable and relatable. This combined with the soft focus of the background provided by the lens communicates that the most important thing that they should be paying attention to is the woman on the screen. Now, for another example that uses the same lens, but a different framing technique, see below.
This frame is an example of short-sided composition. As she looks away to the short-side of the frame, there is a sense of distance and distress. The viewer's eyes are led immediately out of the frame, and the composition feels off-balance. The audience immediately feels her sadness. Just by framing the character in a different way while using the same lens the audience is led to feeling a different emotion.
In the above photo two elements are different. While the subject is in hard focus, you are still able to see bits and pieces of the background behind him. This communicates to the audience that the character should be their main point of focus, but that it’s also okay if their eye explores the rest of the scene. It can serve to draw the watcher deeper into the viewing experience. The character is also centered in the frame, giving our character the ability to deliver his dialog with authority and instill confidence in the audience.
The last topic we want to mention today is camera movements. But, bear in mind, these are only a handful of the myriad decisions that we process through when shooting a video for you as our client. Each one serves a smaller purpose that helps better communicate the big Purpose of the story for you, and to help form a stronger connection with your audience.
Camera movements are extremely important to the viewer’s experience. Since the viewer’s vantage point into the story is the way the camera moves, there are several ways to manipulate that experience.
Tripod - If you lock a camera to a tripod, you are communicating a very stable experience to the viewer. Camera angles and lenses become very crucial if this is the method we choose to use for filming, because there will be no camera movement. The audience still needs to see and interesting picture, even if it’s standing still.
Stabilizers and Steadicams - If you put a camera on a track or a slide, you can give slow, deliberate movement to the what your audience sees. This makes the viewer feel like they are moving with the story, but in a deliberate way. It’s adds a high production value to a video.
Handheld and Go-Pro Cameras - Oftentimes, when we work with medical facilities, we want to show the day to day life of the hospital staff without intruding on sensitive medical procedures or information. By giving the staff Go-Pros to wear, we can often capture high energy footage that puts the watcher very in the moment. The same can be said for handheld camera shots. They are often shaky and unpredictable. They communicate to the watcher a sense of excitement and chaos. If it does incorrectly, it can feel like low production value to the viewer.
All of these filmmaking decisions add up to support the big Purpose of our client’s goals, and harness the power of intentional storytelling and drive emotional decision-making. Shooting with purpose is just one of the elements that will make a difference between a story that will create powerful connections and drive your audience into action, and a story that will fall flat and never make it off the ground. At Rooted Content, we take the purpose of video production and intentional storytelling seriously to provide our clients with a process to emotionally connect with their audience. Contact us today to see what Rooted Content can do to help further your company’s Purpose.