SXSW 2013: Perfecting Video for the Web

by Emily Reeves

We often quote the stat that by 2015, 90% of internet traffic will be from video streams. Given that fact, video production is a hot topic at SXSW this year. I sat in on a great panel this morning whose focus was really about producing video series for the web and I walked away with some good advice for web videos in general:

  • Video length: a web video needs to be one minute at a minimum and really shouldn’t be more than three minutes to keep your audience engaged for the full length of the video. If it has to go over three minutes, definitely don’t exceed five minutes.
  • Preparation: the pane recommended storyboarding out the video before shooting, even if it is on the back of a napkin very quickly before pressing the record button. Think about the script, the camera angles, the action etc. Having a plan allows you to be more comfortable while shooting and ultimately allows for serendipitous moments because you are not worried about all the details.
  • Equipment: shoot with what you have. An iPhone works and so does a Canon 7D. It is about what you have when you need it and how comfortable you are with the equipment.
  • Audio: the panel agreed that people underestimate the power of sound. It is 50% of the video (the other 50% being the visual). Make sure your audio is good or the video isn’t worth posting and sharing.
  • Personality: while preparation and storyboarding is important, too much control can rob the personality from the video. People who are watching web videos crave more humanness. They are not looking for or wanting something that is super polished. Give them this.
  • Supplements: create static content to complement your video, like still photos and text. Both additions will help with SEO. And the photos give people something to share to Pinterest. Multiple versions of the content is valued by your audience.

And of course, the content of the video is what really matters. If the story you are telling isn’t relevant or engaging for your audience, all the planning and equipment in the world won’t make it shareable or even watchable on the web. As always, consider the audience and what they need and want as you plan the content for your videos.

Emily Reeves