If a picture is worth a 1000 words, whats a video worth?

We’ve all heard the expression a picture is worth a thousand words, so what’s a video worth? It’s an interesting question as when you look at a photo your mind wonders about the story behind it and the imagination takes over. However the imagination only has so much to go on from a photo. It’s not so much telling a story worth a thousand words but more letting you create your own without realising it. That’s the power of a photo, only so much is filled in for you.

That is not only a blessing though, it can also be a curse. I’m sure many people, myself included, have seen a photograph and begun to put the story together in their head only to wish the photo could tell them more. What lies beyond those edges? Only a few will ever know. You begin to put this fiction together and then want to know reality but can’t. Now you have a story with no end, conclusion or resolution; in other words just unsatisfying. That’s when a photo can’t be enough and that’s where video comes in.

When a story is told through video, it’s worth as many words as you like. Videos, whether a commercial or a blockbuster, feed the audience a story scene by scene, frame by frame. It takes you on a journey as opposed to starting it and leaving you to figure out the rest. Don’t get me wrong, video still lets the imagination have some fun but it gives you your answers and in the rare cases in doesn’t, there’s a reason for it. For example, there might be a scene, a character walking up to a supposedly empty room making noise, where the audience begins to ask questions. The imagination answers these questions, a loved one, the family pet, a monster etc. and then they get their answer. The certainty washes over the viewers like a wave, their question has been answered. This is the edge video has over a photo, it crafts its story always giving the audience just enough information but never giving away too much. It usually does this with a setup, confrontation and conclusion. It’s in our nature to need closure and even when a video leaves the viewer on a cliff hanger, it’s different from a photo’s lack of answers. A photo gives no conclusion whereas a cliff hanger gives you a multiple choice ending. Storytelling through video answers, and in a beautiful way.

Now stories told through video are not always as described. They can be just as frustrating as photos can be. We’ve all watched a film and it makes no sense.You sit there trying to connect the dots and it just doesn’t add up. This can be even more annoying than trying to work out the story behind a photo because you are being shown this story and it’s trying to provide you answers but they’re not living up to your mind’s expectations. The same goes for a bad ending. The whole film builds to this point and your imagination is doing backflips in your head and then the ‘what just happened’ moment arrives. Your mind had made all these grand endings and raised expectations only for the film to disappoint.

Every medium will have its benefits and shortcomings. Thought out and executed carefully a photo can tell an amazing story. Same goes for books, video and any other way people tell stories. It can’t be rushed no matter how hard some people may try, a great story takes time, effort and care. The point of this article was not to slam photos but was to highlight the ability video has over it when telling a story. Let’s take commercials for example, some powerful stories have been told through commercials but the most powerful are videos, not print. Let’s take a recent ad that gained huge attention: the recent Nike ad. There were print versions and a video. While the print makes you think and hints at the story the video does a lot more. It doesn’t just tell one story but many, all the while arousing a number of emotions in the audience. Below are the two ads, what do you think?

Every medium will have its benefits and shortcomings. Thought out and executed carefully a photo can tell an amazing story. Same goes for books, video and any other way people tell stories. It can’t be rushed no matter how hard some people may try, a great story takes time, effort and care. The point of this article was not to slam photos but was to highlight the ability video has over it when telling a story. Let’s take commercials for example, some powerful stories have been told through commercials but the most powerful are videos, not print. Let’s take a recent ad that gained huge attention: the recent Nike ad. There were print versions and a video. While the print makes you think and hints at the story the video does a lot more. It doesn’t just tell one story but many, all the while arousing a number of emotions in the audience.

In conclusion, if you want to tell a story no matter how big or small, be passionate, take your time and make sure it has a good ending because it doesn’t matter how a story is told, it’s about what has gone into creating the story that makes it what it is.

Writer – Travis Usher – Creative Manager @ Ekstasy

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