Forest scene, sunlight streaming through the leaves

Picture This! I Wish I’d Done That

September 17, 2012

I’m often asked which film or video I wish I’d done? The question usually leads to a discussion about recent Hollywood movies – films that are great, but just a little bit outside of our production snack bracket. Sure, I love the Bourne films, but can’t see one in our near future.

If we talk about short videos and commercials that we could produce – then the question becomes a little more interesting. I’m always a fan of inspirational videos, strong on story, shot with a small, intimate crew with stories that are real. Yesterday I happened upon a great example: WWDC 2012 App Developer Appreciation Video. Title aside, it’s an inspiring video.

First a bit of context: The video was shown at Apple’s June (2012) Developer Conference. It plays seven minutes into Tim Cook’s intro speech. He offers the audience (Programmers and App Developers) some incredible numbers: 650,000 apps have been developed for the iPhone and iPad and over 30 billion downloads. Cool numbers for a business major – but any great CEO know that you need more that numbers to wow an audience, you need to inspire.

Cue the video.

The video opens with a dark screen with forest sounds, birds, the wind and the sound of someone walking. Then we fade up on a point-of-view shot of someone walking through the forest. A voice says, “Walking through the forest allows my brain to switch off and start dreaming.” Suddenly it clicks – the speaker is blind. A series of great shots follow as the speaker Per Busch explains that before the iPod App, Ariadne GPS, he couldn’t walk by himself in the forest. 45 seconds into the video – you’re inspired.

The sequence is deceptively simple: beautiful cinematography cut to a beautiful classical score with a great story. But the video does a couple of things that we don’t usually see: it uses interpretive shots to evoke the feelings of the speaker. Simple idea – but something you rarely see. It’s hard to do – to really think about and interpret how a subject sees or feels the world. The second thing – obviously they interviewed the subject, but there’s no sync sound. Again, a simple idea, we don’t need to see the speaker. It helps to evoke a wonderful mood. With the piece the filmmaker does a great trick, getting across key information – what the app does – but what they really capture is the feelings of the subject, the sheer exhilaration of a world being opened up by a simple app.

Inspiring stuff. The video reminds me that all of us who make commercials and videos are would be filmmakers, but so often that filmmaking gene gets submerged below client demands and requirements. Videos like this remind me that, sure key info may be necessary, but it’s more important to understand and visualize how a product or solution opens doors to a subject. That’s where you need to recapture you’re inner filmmaker. That’s where things get really interesting.

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