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Creative problem: what to do instead of boring graphcis?

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Jon Henry
Creative problem: what to do instead of boring graphcis?
on Aug 19, 2013 at 3:23:22 pm

I have a conundrum, and was wondering what some other editors would suggest.

I work in factual TV. My producers are pressuring us to stop using "graphics" to illustrate important facts contained within documents. You know, the old After Effects scrolling across a page, then the highlight appearing around the important piece of text.

They're not saying "make the graphics better", they're trying to persuade us to not use motion graphics for this purpose...PERIOD.

So my question is, what would you do? The producers are, of course, telling us what NOT to do, and not offering any alternate solutions.

I have a few of my own ideas, but they're not so hot...to tell the truth. If anyone has any other thoughts, I am all ears.


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Bill Davis
Re: Creative problem: what to do instead of boring graphcis?
on Aug 19, 2013 at 6:43:41 pm

Typical "top down" critique approach.

Here's the problem. I have no doubt you can do much better - but do they understand the cost?

Right now, what they're dissatisfied with is you're exercising a production process that you already are fully comfortable with. That makes it super efficient and inexpensive in both time and company resources to deploy.

We all LOVE watching fresh new creative work. But everyone here also knows that to truly do something fresh and new and creative takes a LOT of sweat equity and mental toil. Not the least of which is the time to sit down, without the pressure of the current deadlines, and imagine new possibilities and ideas.

So next time your boss says they want to "stop using the old creative ways" - put a huge simile on your face. Agree fully. Be enthusiastic and excited. And immediately ask them how much time and company resources they will authorize you to spend to create the cool new creative direction.

Good luck.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Mike Cohen
Re: Creative problem: what to do instead of boring graphcis?
on Aug 19, 2013 at 10:04:57 pm

This is like saying "can we something besides Powerpoint at meetings?"

Well sure. There is Keynote, or Prezi.

Keynote is basically Powerpoint with better templates.

Prezi does some wonderful things but takes time to master to avoid doing cheese.

So you stick with PPT because everyone knows it and it is almost universally compatible, with the exception of video formats.

Depending upon your subject matter, maybe you can continue to use graphics but do something different.

Let's say your company makes signs - you could present the text graphics in the format of signs. Might get old after a while but it is something different.

Same goes for license plates, tv monitors, t-shirts, coffee mugs.

Now if your videos are about how to fill out a TPS report then you kind of have to show the TPS report. This might mean doing some tabletop shots, lighting, jib shots and the previously mentioned time and money while still hitting deadlines.

I would suggest giving the powers that be some examples - either sketches if they are visual thinkers, or just a description. If you mock something up and it is not a finished product the message will be "here is something I didn't spend much time on" - not good for anyone.

Good luck.

Mike Cohen


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Mark Suszko
Re: Creative problem: what to do instead of boring graphcis?
on Aug 20, 2013 at 2:17:49 pm

Once a year or so I have to create a training vid where a spokesperson walks you thru how to fill out a huge, multi-page form. To break up the monotony of page upon page of full-screen close-ups of the form with the lines highlighted, I also shoot the presenter on greenscreen and blow the form up so it looks almost the size of a house. An alternate take on this is to shoot down from a high angle onto a green screened floor, make the form the size of a giant carpet, and have the presenter LITERALLY "walk you thru the form" in that way.


Not to stray too far from the original question, but the real problem that CREATED the issue is that your bosses are making you do "training" videos with a bad instructional design paradigm in the first place. There is no good reason to make a video of someone reading a document or powerpoint slides to the camera. Your workers can read a document faster and better than sitting and watching someone read it to them. That is NOT training! That is pretending to train, in order to fill in a check-box on some form that says you trained people. It does not serve the best interests of the organization, or the audience.

Just show the user the damn document and let THEM read it. That is, make it a PDF file, and if you wanna get fancy, make the hard-to-understand parts have a hyperlink to definitions and extra detail, just like a page in Wikipedia.

This way, a self-directed trip thru the document will not bore the people who really mostly know what they are doing, and it won't go too fast for the people that are behind the experience curve. it becomes "just right" for each individual. When you commit a presentation to video, you're putting everybody in the same car, going the same speed, usually, too slow.

But Mark, you say, if I tell them not to read a document or slides into a camera, I'm turning away business! And they are the boss!

I say to you; your job is to be the communications expert, and to solve communication problems. Your first duty to clients is to be on the client's side and advocate what, in your professional opinion, is in their best interest. Sometimes that's a video, sometimes, it's a web site, sometimes it's just an emailed PDF file. You suggest the best tool for the job, if you're a pro. Then they can make an informed choice, and if they still want to go ahead and read a document into a lens, well, then you smile, and you go ahead and execute that to the best of your ability.

But training thru video is so much more than reading documents into a camera. Truly pro and effective video communication leverages the best aspects of the medium. With video and sound, your sweet spot is in communicating emotions and an overall "big picture" understanding, as well as showing physically the exact procedures of what you want to demonstrate. Video is also more consistent than a live presenter, always showing things the same way. Think about a training video for a car mechanic overhauling a transmission: should it be delivered as screens of text, or as shots of a tear-down and re-build, in close-up video? What video is less able to do is compress a lot of detailed information into a short time. For that, you should connect the video to ancillary materials.


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Andrew Rendell
Re: Creative problem: what to do instead of boring graphcis?
on Aug 21, 2013 at 9:35:01 am

I'm not really sure what we're talking about, the benefit of using graphics is to show rather than to tell, and highlighting words on a screen isn't really illustrating anyway.

TBH, it might be the case that some particular information is best conveyed by text document, but in many (perhaps even most) cases a picture is more revealing than words and moving pictures more than static ones.

I guess that no graphics probably means filming examples, which of course has a budgetary implication, but that does rather depend on what it is you're trying to illustrate.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Creative problem: what to do instead of boring graphcis?
on Aug 21, 2013 at 1:53:50 pm

Your point is why there is a huge trend in doing kinetic typography and animated charts to illustrate a point rather than text blocks. There will always be times when you need to do the traditional block of text, but it should be a last resort, not the default choice.


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