I recently watched a video blog post that featured an orchestra whose only instruments were iPhones. The players—it looked like there were about 20 of them—had special gloves with speakers on their wrists. Pretty cool idea, no? And very visual—a big circle of musicians playing iPhones.
The problem was the video. It started with a very wide shot of the group and then wavered, as if unsure where to look. Occasionally it veered off to one part of the group, then another, with no apparent motivating goal. I felt adrift. There were things I wanted to see—like a close-up of the glove speakers, or what the players were doing on their iPhone screens. But that never happened. I felt like the author of the video had no real interest in the subject, so he didn’t know what to film. I wanted to be taken on a tour, shown what was so interesting about the orchestra. Instead, my curiosity went unrequited as the shots moved from moment to moment without any real intent.
Every video gets better when you apply an organizing principle, and it almost doesn’t matter what that principle is. Suppose the shooter of this video had become very interested in one player and showed us everything about her: the concentration on her face, how she moved her arms, what she was doing on her screen. Or suppose the video had focused on the audience reaction, showing their faces as they listened, showed what amazed them, and interviewed them after the show. Or the video could have focused on the music and how it’s made—what do the scores look like for an iPhone symphony? Who is the conductor, and what is he doing while they play? How does the music get played?
Shoot what interests you. Focus your camera on a person or thing or story that’s fascinating and your video will improve instantly.