Three Fundamentals of Concepting a Video
November 19, 2012
When we decide to make a video here at Wistia, the first thing that we do is nail down the concept. What’s a concept? A concept is the clear description of how and why we will make a video in a particular way. We’ve pretty much figured out this process for ourselves, but to help us illustrate this point, we helped our friends at a startup called Price Intelligently figure out how to concept their first video.
Finding your concept
Establishing a concrete concept is challenging. We’ve found that it can sometimes take a couple of days to flesh out a concept to the point where other people can respond to it. But while concepting can take time, it’s a critical factor of making great videos.
1. Focus on one message
It’s incredibly easy to fall into the trap of trying to put too much into one video. Video is hard and expensive! Shouldn’t you cram it full of information? Nope — too much information will make it impossible for your audience to retain everything and will often scare them away.
Try to find the one very simple thing that you can hope to get across in the video. The more clear this is, the easier time you’ll have fleshing out the script.
For our free launch video, we had just one message we wanted to get across: “Wistia is launching a free plan and we’re excited about it.” Once we had one message, it was much easier to find a concept that would work.
Working with Price Intelligently, we decided that the one message we wanted to get across was that “pricing is a scientific process.” After honing in on the message, it was much easier to start throwing around concepts.
2. Cut the fat
Once you have the one message you want to get across, start fleshing out the script.
The goal is to get a first draft of the script that includes everything you want to cover to get your message across. Then we begin the cutting process. We cut everything that isn’t critical to the message. Most of our scripts lose between 25–50% of their length during this process.
For Price Intelligently, there were many, many other things they wanted to include in the script: details around how they do what they do, how big the company is, clients they’ve worked with, etc., but we decided the best course of action was to cut everything except the pieces of their core methodology that differentiate them.
3. Walk before you run
After we cut the fat, we work to assess how likely we are to pull off the script. Do we have someone who has the screen presence to be on camera the whole time? What kind of b-roll should we be featuring? How will we balance the message with the production?
Working with Patrick, we weren’t sure how much experience he’d had on camera and wanted to come up with an option that would work with him only saying a couple of lines on screen. We scaled back some of our original goals and decided to shoot the video in a live action bumper-screencast style. You can see more examples of this technique in our behind-the-scenes post on how we made our Randor on-boarding video series.
The goal of all this concepting is to give ourselves the best chance of having a great video after shooting something. Not all our videos are great and there are a couple that turned out so poorly, even after coming up with strong concepts, that we never ended up releasing them.
How do you concept your videos? What tips do you have that make it easier for you to pull of your production?