Our Video Editing Tricks for Ultimate Viewer Engagement
There are a fair few tricks of the trade that we've learned here at LCB about keeping viewers interested and maintaining their attention from video start to finish. It's amazing how many videos (especially in the corporate sphere) lose their way – so we thought we'd share some of our most tried and tested methods in post.
We divide videos into short segments to hold a viewer's attention and help them understand our messages. Most segments last between 10 and 40 seconds, and they focus on one specific topic. When we change topics, we change segments. In this way, segments function like paragraphs in text: separating one idea from the another. Imagine reading a whole book with no paragraph breaks – it would be confusing and exhausting. That’s what a video without segments feels like.
Music is the main way we distinguish segments from one another. There is usually a musical change when a new segment begins, such as a change from verse to chorus or song to song, sometimes with a quiet rest in between.
Some segment changes are subtle, featuring just a change in music and subject matter. Others segments are very obvious, with an animated title or graphic telling you what they’re about.
In the example below, there are seven different segments in two minutes:
0:00 - INTRO - (Message: Pay attention, this is going to be fun...)
0:10 - MUSIC START - “You & Co is” - (Message: Y&C is a cool, relaxed company)
0:24 - TITLE - “You & Co creates” - (Message: Y&C provide digital marketing services)
0:32 - TITLE - “You & Co people” - (Message: Y&C is a nice bunch of people)
0:41 - MUSIC CHANGE - “I like Andy the best” - (Message: Y&C nurtures your career)
1:18 - MUSIC CHORUS - “I’ve had to accept” - (Message: it’s challenging but rewarding work)
1:38 - END LOGO & CALL TO ACTION
2. Music editing
Music is never just background noise in our videos – it is a structural device. We use the building blocks of music (verse, chorus, bridge, etc.) as the building blocks of our edit segments, helping us to shape the flow of information and emotion for viewers.
To achieve this we not only edit our content to fit a song, we also edit songs to fit our content. We change duration by adding or removing bars of music. We use multiple songs and join them seamlessly (see 1:14 in this video). We add enhancements for emphasis when the music feels lacking. Using techniques like these, we force key moments in the music to match key moments in our story.
For example, we wanted the below Hilti video to begin with lots of energy, so we edited the song to begin with the loud chorus instead of the soft verse. We also wanted each major title to coincide with a change in music (see 1:47), so we added and removed bars of the song to fit the amount of dialogue in each segment (using methods like this and this).
3. Dynamics and modulation ("Without quiet, there can be no loud")
Behind our obsession with segments and music editing are the underlying concepts of dynamics and modulation.
In sound engineering, “dynamic” means a large difference between quiet and loud. Relentlessly loud music can annoy listeners and lose their attention because it is too consistent. If nothing ever changes, people tune out. Conversely, changes in volume draw people back in. As an example, ”Friday” has low dynamic range, while “Bohemian Rhapsody” has high dynamic range.
Modulation is a similar concept but it goes beyond just volume. You can modulate anything, including pace and mood. Without modulation, these can feel “stuck in one gear”. Modulation is like “changing gears”, which re-captures audience attention. In addition to its high dynamic range, “Bohemian Rhapsody” also features wild modulations of pace, mood and genre.
If you didn’t enjoy a video but you’re not sure why, the reason is often a lack of dynamics and modulation (nothing changed; nothing surprised you). LCB videos always have rich dynamics and modulation, thanks to our carefully chosen soundtracks and the ever-changing pace and mood of our short segments (see above).
4. Sound design
We use sound effects to enhance impact and emotion. For example, to make a scene sound happier we might add birds chirping, laughter, or the sound of children playing. To make an office sound busier we would add the sound of phones ringing and keyboards typing.
We also use sound to emphasise key moments. For example, when animated titles fly onto screen we often add a whoosh sound. When a car is stopping, we might add an exaggerated screech of tyres. You can see both of these in the version of the above Hilti video, but stripped of all music and dialogue:
One trick we use for efficient sound design is frequently using our own voices. For example, the video above includes “whoosh” noises made with our own mouths and ourselves as “construction workers” yelling in the background.
5. Economy ("All killer no filler")
At LCB we are ruthless in shortening videos as much as possible. Most of our videos don’t exist to provide detailed information – they exist to leave a good impression and drive viewers to seek information elsewhere. Waffling videos leave a bad impression, so we believe “less is more”.
If something is vague or ambiguous it’s probably doing more harm than good, so we cut it.
If something is repetitious, we cut it.
If something is expressed half-heartedly, we cut it.
If a speaker makes their point too slowly, we shorten it via tricky editing or replace it with text or another solution.
The overall impression of a video is more important than any single piece of information, so we never keep a weak part at the expense of the whole. If in doubt, throw it out.
6. Simple, faithful design
When designing titles and graphics, our approach is conservative (but classy).
Our projects rarely require a striking, original aesthetic. Elaborate designs that draw attention to themselves are inappropriate for most of our videos (and a waste of our time). More often, titles and graphics just need to complement our client’s existing style.
To achieve this, we follow a couple of design touchstones. The first is our client’s existing style – we study their brand guidelines and their website and match it in our work. The second is Apple, because their designs are broadly familiar and respected. For example, the iPhone popularised an aesthetic of heavily blurred images and fine-lined icons, so by (tactfully) borrowing ideas like these from Apple we give our designs instant, subconscious credibility with viewers. Apple is not the only brand we take inspiration from, of course (others include Google), but Apple is the biggest one.
You can see some iPhone-inspired blur effects incorporated into the motion graphics for this video we did for the NSW government:
7. Pull quotes
The majority of our videos include “pull quotes”, a concept borrowed from magazine layouts. These consist of a few words of key dialogue rendered on screen as text. We like pull quotes because they serve several functions at once:
They highlight important information, forcing it into viewers’ brains
They provide a change of scenery, breaking up the typical edit pattern of interview - cutaway - interview - cutaway
They can hide cut points in an interview, which is useful if you need to delete some dialogue but have few or no cutaways to work with
See an example at 0:06 of our video for Advisian:
Together, we can end bad corporate videos in our lifetime.
If you're looking for ultimate engagement with your next video project, be sure to request a free quote. We'd love to help.