What are good visuals?

Perhaps it’s my background in video production and my strong desire to match media and message, but I’ve been seeing some incredibly inappropriate ways of delivering a message “visually”. The specific example that prompted me to write is this one . The piece is actually a very interesting pseudo documentary looking back at how media changes – perhaps its content is blog-worthy some other time. What annoyed me about it was that it was being used as an example of a “good use of Flash” when in fact I thought the visuals were so poor that, in all probability, the choice of a visual medium was a mistake: if you don’t have visual content, don’t do visuals is a good rule of thumb, I think.

Another example of, imho, really lame visuals used to waste time and attempt to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear is this marketing hype. Again, Flash used but poor quality visuals (blown up way too big), super slow pacing and a message that, to me is cloyingly saccharine. (On the last point I am probably alone – it’s been very successful as a viral marketing piece so it must appeal to a lot of people.)

What bothers me about these pieces and about a lot of podcasts is that they are incredibly inefficient. One regular podcast I once listened to (on the topic of Final Cut Pro et al) takes about 20 minutes a week to listen to, for what would be a 3 minute read on a web page because the podcaster simply reads a script (or seems to be reading a script). OK, it could be listened to during a commute or at a gym where the 20 minutes wouldn’t be an imposition but surely, if you’re going to do an audio medium it should be produced as an audio medium?

Ditto visual medium – I always have hated making a “video” for a client that was essentially an audio program that had to have visuals forced onto it. (Like the piece at the head of this article.) Have we forgotten the imaginative power of radio? I’ll bet the movie version of War of the Worlds due out soon has none of the impact of the original 1938 broadcast. There are great radio documentaries produced that would make awesome podcasts, instead we get lame “read my script” or “come into my office and chat” podcasts that have zero production value. The Media 2014 example has great writing, the audio production is excellent and the visuals (which probably took the most time) add very little, imho.

This is what worries me about vlogcasting – even basic video production requires some time – more time than most people want to put into a blog or podcast, so what’s going to happen? Gigabytes of bandwidth occupied by badly lit, poorly edited shakey-cam that is virtually unwatchable? It’s already happening: download the Ant vlogcasting client and try and find something worth your time watching. Little evidence of strong writing or great production there – at least in what I’ve found (and if you find something great, ping me on it so I can share the excitement).

Where’s this going? – well, there’s still going to be a role for production skills for some vlogcasting, particularly if we adopt channels of information models via subscription. (The “RSS, Vlogcasting and Distribution Opportunities” blog entry is back, after editing.) It’s another example of how production specialists will need to adapt, and advise clients on what the most appropriate distribution methodology is. Just having basic production skills won’t be enough, but they will be a marketable commodity and profitable when part of the full service we offer customers on their communication needs. Also necessary will be the judgment and sense to tell customers that they don’t need “a video” but rather a website or brochure will work better for them. Savvy people will have those skills as well – if not personally, within their network.

5 thoughts on “What are good visuals?”

  1. I substantially agree that there is a lot of content that is simply a waste of bandwith. As for example one, I’m of a completely different opinion.

    >I thought the visuals were so poor that, in all probability, the choice of a visual medium was a mistake

  2. What makes the first example a good use of a visual medium as opposed to a great “radio broadcast”? What did the visuals add?

    I’m seriously curious because to me it was just taking logos and jumping them around. That’s not creative visuals in my mind, that’s making up something to fill visuals because a different decision was made that forced visuals on a great radio program.

    Philip

  3. I’m with Randy on this one Philip, the same way good storytelling with the use of some basic visual aids has existed throughout the centuries, this piece uses distressed visuals of logos (until the climax) to keep the visual sense stimulated and fixated (almost hypnotically) which serves to draw the viewer deeper into the story. The spirit of the blog, and it’s main point, however, I agree with.

  4. Aloha Philip,
    In this logarithimic technological rate of change, I don’t know how you can find the time to judge the delivery of messages. I concur with you on many levels. You are quite brilliant in your anylizations, but, who cares? (obviously I do or I would not be here) We are way beyond the turning point now. I recently felt overwhelmed with the technological advancements, actually for the second time, the first time was in 1994. That is Another story.

    Just to touch on a subject of human evolution in coincednce with technology. I feel the essence of change is influenced more by technology, than by nature, or things natural. GMO, Computers and TV have slowly usurped the natural development of the human, that sometimes, I cry…..

    Oh well, back to editing for me…

    Respectfully,
    Stephen

  5. I have to agree with Phil all the way on example one (I didn’t even make it to example two – all the banner ad’s gave me a headache before the thing even loaded. At least I think it was loading). Example one’s visuals seemed interesting for about 10 seconds, at which point I was convinced they’d run out of ideas and/or inspiration. Shaky logos to me is as exciting as contrived shaky camera in TV shows. Dull, dull, dull.

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