We know that the flashing pixels on the screen stimulate the retinas of people watching TV. We also know that sound waves vibrate their eardrums. Beyond these physical and biochemical effects, the video watching experience becomes much more subjective. Certain jokes foster a deep belly laugh from some of your viewers, while others watching your video will only smirk. Quizzed immediately following the video, some viewers might remember your favorite scene, while the person sitting next to them was daydreaming during that scene and doesn’t recall it at all.

As video creators, it is not necessarily our hope that our audience will memorize a line or recall a tricky camera move. It is our hope that they will understand something new, something that we already know. More than wishing that they will learn what we teach, we aren’t satisfied with the retention of raw information and facts. We want our audience to convert that information into knowledge, into wisdom. We hope to foster knowledge, which is much more challenging than just getting viewers to watch an entire video.

If we are fortunate enough to assist our audience in becoming knowledgeable, our next hope is that they feel the emotions that we felt during the creation of the video. We’re not satisfied that viewers know about a joke and realize that it is funny on some level, we want them to laugh. Video communication is the same for other genres as well. Julia Child, for example, wanted viewers to feel hunger for the food that she was preparing. Jacques Cousteau hoped that you’d feel badly about the depletion of fish in the oceans, but his more ambitious goal was that you developed a deep concern about the environment as a whole. He hoped that your caring would result in direct action, like purchasing dolphin-safe tuna or contacting your legislature. Michael Moore wants viewers to care about the issues he raises and vote for someone other than George W. Bush. The director of a TV spot for The League of Women Voters wants you to volunteer so that you can help people to register to vote. Karl Rove wants you to care about George Bush’s leadership in the free world. Fred Rogers wanted children to care about their friends, give them a hug and to make them feel appreciated by saying "Thank you." Pat Robertson wants you to care enough about his mission in the world and perhaps to make a donation to his non-profit religious organization. Ron Popeil entices you to slice and dice and wants you to purchase his Vegematic.

When we create video, we start by hoping that people will watch the program, but perhaps our greatest victory is when we get people to take a distinct action. We want them to give, buy, avoid, embrace or volunteer.

Matthew York is Videomaker‘s Publisher/Editor.

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