Finding a good opening to your video is critical. Far too often, newspaper produced video fails to quickly grab the viewer’s attention. Online viewers are a fickle bunch, where the click of a mouse button will lead them to some other cooler destination. The key is to smack ‘em upside the head and wake them up. Your first 15 seconds better be good or they won’t stick around long. Here are some of the things I do to let the viewer know that my video is worth watching:
- I avoid at all costs, opening with a talking head. That is the kiss of death. You have to warm the viewing crowd up some before you bring in narrative. Use strong visuals from your b-roll instead.
- One of my favorite things to start my video with is a series of quick sound bites interspersed with nat sound pops. A nat(ural) sound pop is a quick hit of sound like a ball hitting a bat, the sound of a shovel digging into a sand pile, the closing of a car door.
- Try using the classic literary device of opening your video by teasing with the middle or end of your story.
- One of the suggestions I learned at the Platypus Workshop is to lead with your strongest, or second strongest video first. Works great in breaking news videos.
- It’s important to define your story in the opening 15-20 seconds. If viewers have to wait too long they’ll be gone. If needed, use objective (facts) narration to move the story along.
- Or…don’t define the story quickly. Instead make your opening vague and mysterious. But be careful with this. Don’t try the viewer’s patience or they’ll bolt.
- Open with great natural sound. I sometimes open my video with black and just play sound. It’s mysterious and hopefully makes the viewer want to follow the sound into your story.
- Finally, look at picking up the pace to capture the viewer’s attention. Long (five seconds or more) clips won’t stimulate the viewer’s brains—especially the ones with ADHD.