My solo career started with a creative difference with a creative director. No, I wasn’t fired. We’d just been working for months on a corporate video and I felt quite strongly that the silent spaces afforded by text-only testimonials helped give the overall story room to breath, and resonate. And I still believe this to be true. But this certain CD flatly stated, “People don’t read video,” with the tone of “are you stupid?” and I chose to make that my exit.
Flash forward two years later and I’m scanning down Facebook, flipping stories on CNN.com, and there’s nothing but video with only text. Turns out, people do read video. And while I find the current use pretty crass, it does confirm the general public’s literacy.
Our brains are already great noise cancelers (thanks, but no thanks Bose). Interrupt noise with silence, give a brief pause, and roll the text, and you have the audiences’ attention.
The question then is, what is the benefit of people reading video? I feel it’s based on engagement of the mind. It’s easy to let images fly pass our eyes, cut in 3 second shots, building up an avalanche of sound effects and a compressed, hyper-real voice over. We’re used to this noise and we tune out noise. Our brains are already great noise cancelers (thanks, but no thanks Bose). Interrupt noise with silence, give a brief pause, and roll the text, and you have the audiences’ attention. Who doesn’t read the end title slate that tells you what happened after the movie based on a true story concluded? Or the silence, when just the names of those fallen in battle are listed onscreen.
There is power to silent reading.
Part of the issue is bringing to the medium of web video an existing idea of what it should be – just like TV, or just like film. It’s a different medium. It can be low budget, it’s not always wrong to be a bit clunky – it just has to be appropriate. And in certain cases it can even be read.