Many people have started doing their own video editing these days. A common error is simply sandwiching a bunch of short video clips together, throwing some music over it, and putting it out there. To go to the next level, you need to think about the journey you want to take your audience on. And use rhythm and pacing to control this.
Pacing refers to the length of each shot. And by varying this, you’ll impact the overall rhythm of the video. Start to think about how you want your audience to feel. e.g. a way of working with this is decreasing the length of each clip. This increases the pace of the edit, and builds excitement. And then layer in the right music and sound effects to amplify the effect. Each choice you make will have an impact.
Look at other creative practices for inspiration. Electronic dance music, for example. Notice the ‘journey’ of a piece of music. It often starts with just a drum beat, and over time, layers in a range of sounds to build the rhythm leading up to a crescendo, break down, and then rebuild.
Even better, get some headphones and listen to Beethoven’s Piano Sonata Number 8 from start to finish. Notice the journey that it takes you on, and the emotions it evokes: Moments of wistful beauty, sadness, optimism. All woven together in a way that reflects the light and shade that is part of life.
Meals, architecture, speeches. Start to tune into the inherent rhythm that a skilled creator uses. As a rule, they’re drawing on patterns reflected in nature. And then amplifying or distilling them. Think about how you can use this as inspiration, and draw elements into your own work. You don’t have to aspire to create a work of art. You might just be smashing something together quickly for social media. But by expanding you palette of tools, you can deepen the impact that you make on your audience.
Another powerful device is the use of Tension and Release. Create tension by building up the rhythm to a climax and then breaking it down to release that tension. If your video stays at the same energetic and emotional pitch the whole way through, your audience will get bored. Tension and Release, when used skilfully, is inherently enjoyable for an audience and helps to keep them engaged.
You can also use Structure and Surprise: Follow a classic structure that your audience is familiar with, but sneak in something unexpected. Blues music is a great example of this. It follows a classic twelve bar structure that audiences are very familiar with. The pleasure in listening to a great Blues musician is that they simultaneously deliver an experience that is familiar and predictable, but then work in an element that is unexpected and plays with the form.
All of these elements need to be used with an inherent playfulness, and love and respect for your audience. They are waiting to be taken on a journey. Where will you take them?
Ryan Spanger is one of Melbourne’s most respected and sought-after video production professionals. Ryan founded Dream Engine in 2002, and specialises in helping medium to large corporates, government departments, and the non-proﬁt sector to connect with their audience more effectively by using video.