Bits, Bytes, Chunks and Epics
We get asked about the issue of length all the time. Here are some ways to think about it.
The average TV spot is 20 seconds. If you’re envisioning a half hour video, you need to have a fantastic storyline (think Brad Pitt in Indiana Jones II), visual dynamite, or a life-changing message (think jobs or IPO). A half hour? That’s the equivalent of 90 TV spots back to back. Look, I’m not saying that you can’t make a 1/2 hour documentary that people will watch; I’m just saying that it’s unlikely that you can make a corporate video that long that your people will watch. Argue with me, if you will. (But, send a sample to prove your point.)
So, epics not withstanding, how long should your videos be?
I’m not going to fudge by saying, “as long as it takes”, because that’s really not true. “As short as you can” would be more true. If you can get your message across in under three minutes, that’s a good target. Especially, if you have an external audience. Customers, media, politicians, anyone under 30. We’ve created a nanosecond culture. The average length of time per visit that anyone watches any video on-line is less than 1minute. As they say on CNBC, don’t fight the tape.
But, you say, I have a boss. He/she has a boss. And they want to talk as long as they want to talk and they expect people will want to hear what they have to say. All true. Here’s one strategy that works. It comes from my favorite extra section on DVDs–”Special Features”.
Go ahead and let your producer/director interview the key executives for as long as they want (the executives, not the producers). Then, use sounds bytes from the interview in the video. Add a special feature for those who want to see the entire interview and let them have at it. Happy boss. Happy bosses’ boss. Happy viewers. Happy you.
BTW, under the heading of reduce, recycle and reuse; you can utilize a lot of the bits and bytes from a main production as on-line pieces for your YouTube channel, your website, your intranet presence. All of this thinking about length and repurposing goes under the heading of creating a viable, long-term video production and distribution strategy. A really good idea.