For Pros

Breaking Video Rules and Winning in Grand Rapids

By Jun 06, 2011January 19th, 2013Leave a comment

Breaking video rules can be glorious. But to break the rules and win you have to a)  know the rules and b) break them with enormous style and commitment.

I often talk about “Thinking in Shots” as a critical video skill. A quick glance at any TV show, movie or well-made video reveals that the longest shots you’re likely to see are 30 seconds long…and most are in the 10 second range or shorter. Generally speaking, your video will improve if you master this skill.

But if you’re breaking video rules, it pays to go all the way.  The folks in Grand Rapids, Michigan have broken them with such pure energy that it takes your breath away.  Witness this 8 minute and 51 second shot:

Because we’ve been bathed in video since birth, we intuitively sense where the cuts in this video should be.  We’re waiting for them.  But this video grabs us by the eyeballs because instead, every time we expect an edit it raises the stakes of its single long take. We want a cut but no–there’s another singer instead.  Or cheerleaders.  Or a pillow fight.  Or sparklers.  Or a helicopter.

Breaking video rules becomes a game that we willingly play along with.  The filmmakers pull us into the fun of “how did they do that?” We’re amazed when it goes right– and just keeps going right for almost 9 minutes.

Does this video mean we shouldn’t think in shots?  Of course not. But it does show that you make a huge impact on your audience by breaking any “rule” in video– if you break it spectacularly.

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