To make a successful video, make a series of successful moving images. When it comes to film, every 15-30 seconds (in my humble opinion), a person should be able to pause the movie in question and be left with a photo they might like to hang on their wall. Rule of thirds, no poles jutting out the tops of people’s heads (unless it’s a slapstick comedy), attention to what’s in the particular “power spots” of the image, jumping back and forth between viewpoints (whether or not you can see what they’re seeing…), and so on. Showing scenery from further away, and bringing the camera in closer to where the characters are is often a good tactic…unless, as in this case, the characters in question wander away to their own devices.
All this applies to images, but video is slightly more challenging because 1) there are a ton of these sorts of images that all must be strung together coherently and 2) sound can go right along with them. Sounds, angles, and lighting can do a lot for a scene…
Sound cues the viewer as to how they should feel about the scene — wistful, happy, dreary, somewhat fearful. In the case of horror movies, no sound is usually coupled with EXPLOSIONS of sound to shock a viewer not only in screen content, but sound to go with it. (Scary movies ARE less scary with the sound off….it’s true.) Of course, indirect, juxtaposed audio and visual cues can be fun too. Wasn’t it Clockwork Orange that featured a rendition of Singin’ in the Rain, using a formerly happy song to meld humor while the couple is robbed… If I ever made a horror movie, there would definitely be some Ella Fitzgerald or Michael Buble in there somewhere! But I digress.
In the first video clip, the music’s futility couples with the setting sun, swells as Our Hero dreams of a destiny beyond a wasteland, and then fades as he comes back to reality. In the second, angles from above, a disembodied voice, and shadowy darkness with carefully planned tilting give a dreamlike quality to the second scene. Indeed, it is those angles, and that throaty, humming sound in the background, that give an otherwise odd video of a kid walking down stairs into something much more surreal. All of this, of course, is furthered only by the fact that a rather disturbing-looking rabbit appears on the golf course.
Careful attention to composition makes every shot a photo in itself…and if it’s timed correctly and placed appropriately, music and sound (or lack thereof) can enhance the overall mood of the piece.
Watch these two clips (you may have seen them before) and see what YOU think.