Often clients ask us to create case study films that deliver technical or in-depth information about a particular subject. We have certain techniques that we like to use in these videos in order to help audiences digest and retain the in-depth information.
Using Multiple Interviewees
We find that having multiple contributors in the video allows you to keep the audience interest level high, especially if the voices are quite different. For example, cutting from a male to female voiceover. The change in audio tone jolts the audience and helps to keep their attention. It also helps to delineate the information into chapters. This is especially useful when you have a complex technical subject and you want the audience to retain key pieces of information long after they watch the video. This works particularly well if people are coming to your brand fresh and want to get to know how you can help them in a step-by-step manner.
Another way to ensure that the viewer’s attention is held all the way through is to cut out any repetitive comments. The information delivery should build with one interviewee adding to the previous interviewee’s comments. This may sound obvious but it’s a mistake that we see made very often. A trait amongst novice editors is to not respect the intelligence of the viewer and choosing to underline certain topics by having different people make the same point, phrased differently. When you’re making a succinct, attention grabbing video there is no room for overlapping information. Every comment should be fresh and distinct.
Leaving pauses for the audience to ingest information is also key to increasing recall of the core points. Very often we see videos with back to back dialogue from multiple interviewees. Often this is because the client wants to cram in a lot of information into a short period of time but it’s a mistake to think that audiences can absorb this much information being hurled at them all at once. Instead, pauses need to be left in the dialogue with a few seconds of musical interlude. This way the audience can absorb what they’ve just heard and are ready to move on afresh.
Having good B-roll to cover these pauses is essential. This could come from bespoke material captured to give extra context to the interview, or it might be from stock footage that is used to fill give the audience something else to hold their attention other than a static shot of a talking head.
If the interviewee delivers a lot of great information, but it’s pushing the length of the video beyond what you think an audience will be willing to watch for, it might be better to split it into one main video, which acts as the testimonial case study video, and then individual answers as separate videos for use on social media. Those answers may address one point at a time and can attract attention with a clickable title that draws people in. This approach works really well on LinkedIn when you pepper short videos for release as part of an annual content calendar.
When conducting an interview few people consider the ‘performance’ of the interviewee. A good director with experience of conducting interviews will be able to coax a good performance out of an interviewee, even if they are initially uncomfortable in front of the camera. Being able to make them feel at ease is a specialism that you should look for in a case study video director.
Also they should make the content of the case study as authentic as possible. In a client testimonial case study film, it’s often tempting to have a happy client say something like, “I really recommend x brand and I wouldn’t look anywhere else.” But that can come across as cheesy. Like an 80s washing powder ad. Or worse, like they’ve been given some incentive to recommend the brand. This undermines the authenticity of the whole case study. Often it can be good to throw in a comment from the interviewee that sounds slightly critical, about how a particular service could be improved even further or a line like, “my only criticism would be.” In order to make the testimonial believable it might be worth taking a mildly negative comment on the chin.
No Scripted Answers
Another way to keep the perceived authenticity high is to avoid having scripted answers. Avoid the use of autocue and tell interviewees not to prepare a speech in their head. The conversation between the interviewer and interviewee should feel natural, as if you were having a chat down the pub with a friend who is really interested in learning more about what you do fo a living.
The skill of the director will come in making sure the comments feel natural but delivered in short soundbites. We find that a lot of experts have the tendency to go into a lot of detail and to go off on a tangent. A good technique can be to allow them to do this the first time you ask a question, but then to ask them to re-phrase all of what they said into a sentence.
The framing of the interview can also be important to ensure that the audience pay attention to the information being delivered. We have found that a tight eye line leads to greater engagement. This means that the subject being interviewed looks off-camera at the interviewer, but the interviewer should be sat as close to the camera as possible. This allows the audience to look the interviewee in the eyes, to see whether they are telling the truth. However we avoid the uncomfortable feeling of the subject looking directly at us, like a presenter might do when talking to the audience.
The choice of location is essential in catering compelling case study interviews. Ideally the location would tell you something about the subject. Maybe about their personality, their job, their lifestyle. For example if you’re interviewing a farmer, you may want to interview them outside, in a field or maybe in a garage next to their tractor. The background of the interview may be out of focus but even then it can give the audience semiotic information about the person being interviewed. A bright, colourful blurry background is likely to give off a more positive tone than having dark amorphous shapes found in modern office environments.
You can see a lot of the techniques described above, used in a case study film that we created for Coca-Cola about their water sustainability initiatives. We produced a series of case study films for them and interviewed experts, locals and Coca-Cola representatives to get a range of views on the subject. We created a film targeted towards an educated audience but still needed to deliver the information in a palatable manner.
There is however, another way to get the essence of the information across if you’re targeting a general audience. This is where human interest storytelling comes in.
We chose to tell the story of someone who has benefitted from the water management program and show the impact it had on him and his livelihood. It presents a real person with real problems in a way that brings about interest and sympathy in the viewer. This is a compelling use of emotional storytelling to deliver a corporate message. However, when using this technique, you have to be very light touch. You have to respect the genre conventions and tell a good story first and foremost, then insert the corporate message at the end. The way we used it was to tell the farmer’s story with Coca-Cola branding at the end, then lead the viewer to further information if the subject was of interest to them. This opened up the material to a wide audience and presented further video material for a nice audience.
We worked with their social media monitoring team to gauge the results and we found that giving the audience information in stages, video, by video, was a very successful tactic and led to 200% increased awareness of the brand’s water conservation efforts.