Whether you’re new to video production or you’ve been at it for a while, chances are that you’ve heard the phrase, “Show, don’t tell,” at least a few times by now, if not a whole lot. That’s because it’s good advice. In fact, it’s great advice, and not always as obvious nor simple as it sounds.
After all, film and video offer more than solely visual possibilities when it comes to telling your story, and it can be tempting to lean on some of those other aspects and elements of the process. Sometimes, it’s just easier to have a subject or character simply come out and say what you want to get across.
However, for the most part, you’ll be far better off accomplishing that visually. Why? Because viewers tend to remember more when you make your point that way to them, and that’s the whole point, right? Of course. So, read on for a few tricks to making your stories more visual.
1. Rely on context more than sound.
At first glance, telling your stories without using sound to guide viewers along can sound like a tall order, but it’s nothing new. Just think of silent movies. Unable to rely on the guidance of dialogue or sound, they had to make themselves understandable in a purely visual way, and they did it! How?
Well, they accomplished it in a number of ways, but it all starts with context. If you provide the audience with even just a little context, you may be surprised at just how much it can help in terms of allowing them to put the pieces together without you having to tell them exactly how those pieces fit.
For example, imagine an opening scene in which we’re following around a subject for a while. That alone would tell the viewers that this person is important, if not the main character or subject of the story. Then, if this person enters an office and takes a seat at a desk, we’d assume that this is where he or she works.
The point is that you don’t always need to get overly explicit with dialogue when trying to get this kind of information across. Yes, there are times when sound and dialogue will be the only tools for the job, but not always. This is a perfect example of the kind of info you can give to your audience without having to tell them about it.
2. Show people rather than talking about things.
Regardless of the mission you’re ultimately trying to accomplish with your film or video, it’s no secret that audiences just won’t put up with content that’s solely focused on you and whatever it is you do or offer. They don’t want to hear pitches sold anymore but stories told or, more accurately, stories shown.
That’s why it’s always such a good idea to try to keep the focus of your stories on the people who populate them rather than the things they make or the brand they represent. Whether they’re employees, team members, previous customers, followers, etc., audiences would rather see their stories than yours or your brand’s.
Now, when it comes to actually showing those stories rather than telling them, like mentioned above, a little context can go a long way, as can simply showcasing people who the audience can relate to in action, in their element, whether it’s a team member working on a current project or a previous customer using one of your products in their everyday life.
You get the idea, but the key word there is “relate,” as the effectiveness of your stories will also have a lot to do with the specific people you choose to focus them on. If the audience can’t relate to the subject on any type of personal level, then there’s really no reason to expect them to connect nor be affected by his or her story, no matter if you tell it or show it.
3. Don’t create visual clutter.
We’ve all been subjected to our share of bad stories and nine times out of ten the failure has something to do with unfocused storytelling. That doesn’t change when it comes to telling stories visually. In fact, it may be even more critical when not using the guidance of sound.
Think about it, when you’re relying solely on your visuals to tell your story, you need to be extra careful when designing them. Frame composition, for instance, is key when telling more visual stories and to learn about a few tricks, check out this post, 3 Frame Composition Tricks to Take Your Video Production to the Next Level.
The point, though, is that you don’t want to add too much visual information nor too many extra details to your frames. All that will do is make your story more convoluted and difficult to understand, which is the biggest issue film and videomakers have when trying to tell their stories visually.
Instead, carefully design your visuals so that they clearly let the audience know which elements on screen are the most important, where their focus should be, and what you’re trying to tell them.
We’ve learned a thing or two about showing stories in our time in video production in NJ & NY.
The bottom line is that it’s one thing to have a ton of talking in your films or videos, but it’s a whole other thing to make all that talk about you and/or what you do or offer. Trust us, audiences won’t put up with that kind of storytelling for very long in this day and age.
So, do your best to show your stories rather than tell them. We hope these tips help you do it. Good luck!
About Us: KVibe Productions, one of the top NJ & NYC video production companies creating video content of all kinds, can handle every aspect of the process. And whether it’s a commercial, a corporate video production, or a feature film, at KVibe, we always create to inspire.