Next time you are watching TV – and this could be anything from the news to a sitcom, a film or documentary – turn away from the screen and absorb just the sound for a few minutes. OK – so what have you learned?
Now face the screen, turn off the audio and watch for a few minutes. Now what have you learned?
The chances are you picked a lot more useful information through your ears than your eyes!
Communication starts with Sound
As a means of communicating ideas, for imparting concepts and creating understanding, audio is often by far the most powerful tool.
And this is why as a director, in the first stages of post-production, most of my attention is paid to audio, not video. Get the rhythm, the pace, the mood and messaging right, and you have the foundation for a great film even before you start adding the imagery.
So it’s no surprise that radio can thrive purely though audio, but television and film could never rely on the moving image alone as a means of communication – which is why cinema really took off when the ‘talkies’ arrived.
That leads us to question why we need moving imagery at all, given that audio is such a powerful communication medium. Does the moving image simply provide a supporting role to the all-important audio? Good question – and you could argue the case to make all corporate communications audio only.
“Great” say the finance departments. “We’ll save a load of cash not employing camera operators with their expensive cameras – and we can get 90% of the messaging achieved for half the cost!”
Steady on guys… as is so often the case, spreadsheet analytics only tell us half the story.
The Case for Moving Pictures
Pictures can form an extremely important part of communication. Many of us think in pictures and there are good reasons why YouTube, iPlayer, broadcast television and cinema are in such demand – Video is powerful and people love it.
If you are a communications professional in the corporate world, clearly it is your responsibility to maximize the effect of your spend within your organization.
It is your job to create understanding through your communications, but also to create inspiration, to create desire and to create belief – in your brand, your product, your people or your culture.
And this is where moving images come into play – whether creating a TV commercial, recruitment film, training series, fundraising video or a corporate introduction- people respond to images.
The Power of Three
Most of the time a director is balancing three interdependent media – the spoken word, music and moving imagery.
So how do these interact with each other and what role can they play in your communications?
Music is primarily in the mix to provide emotional engagement with your audience
It can be subtle, it can be huge, and it can focus and inspire audiences. It can also be absent – a powerful tool for sure. Get it wrong and the whole film will feel wrong. Get it right, and you can have your audience in the palm of your hand.
Music can drive pace, mood, tension amongst many other values. For maximum effect, the trick is to shape your film through music – because music is one of the few things that is universally and inherently understood, the easiest mode of communication, but of course this must work hand in hand with the imagery and spoken word.
The voice will for the most part be the main carrier for your message, narrative or instruction. The flexibility of language is without doubt the most powerful tool for communicating your key messages, ideas and concepts.
But the voice is also an extremely effective emotive tool – while the choice of words may be exacting, style of delivery can have an infinite range of inflexion and nuance which impart values such as assurance, confidence or empathy. And these are vital for creating resonance with your audience and brand values.
Seeing is Believing
There is something about the human psyche, however, that says ‘If I see it with my own eyes, it must be true’. For some reason, vision seems to provide the unquestioned proof of reality, that we all require, above all other senses.
‘Trust me… I’m a Doctor’ – sounds dodgy doesn’t it? – as do so many other professional and corporate claims.
Yes, it really is true – you say something, and strangely, you may actually weaken your own credibility!
Show it, and you will almost certainly strengthen your case without question. In short, you will be believed.
Why talk about your dedicated workforce, your armies of production robots or legions of elated customers when you can demonstrate all these within a few seconds of footage? Your message is instantly visible and instantly believable and saves a whole lot of verbal justification.
So, there are times when imagery will absolutely nail your message. No doubts, what so ever.
And not only that, your images can go beyond creating belief. In the right hands, moving imagery can create inspiration, passion and desire – precisely the sorts of feelings that persuade us in our choice of cars, clothes and colas.
Indeed, the biggest brands in the world consistently use the power of imagery to make a human connection with their brand.
The Art of Communication – and briefing your director
Of course, every film is different and there is no single correct way to tell the same story.
Fortunately, you are delegating this conundrum, to a director whose job is to sort all this out for you and ensure maximum impact.
But what can you be doing to brief your director?
As a starter, draw up a list of all the key messages that you need to communicate. This might be a handful of broad brush messages, or it might be as many as 30 – 40 detailed points, depending upon the nature of your film.
And of course, not all of these messages might find their way into audio, some may best be conveyed visually, either through video, animation, CGI or motion graphics.
Next, note down how you want your audience to feel, having seen the film. Remember, music and moving imagery will play an important part in this, as emotional engagement is key to cementing messages into your audience’s minds.
Additionally, your director will also need to understand your audience, your brand values, your product, your culture… the list goes on.
At Blue Sky we have a rigorous process designed to flush out all points for consideration before we start to work on a storyboard or script.
Whoever you choose to work with, it is essential to spend time with them right at the start, to ensure that there is a clear understanding between you and your director.
Keep it Simple
And one final point – Your business is probably complex, but keep your communication simple.
It can be hard, throwing out ideas, and distilling messages, but an essential discipline if you are to keep your audience with you.
Besides, simplicity will probably mean shorter duration, reduced production time… and reduced costs.
Now isn’t that what you wanted to hear?