Many of us yearn to distinguish ourselves from the pack.

You could be making documentaries, TV commercials, training or wedding videos, but no matter what type of videos you produce, you are not alone. One compelling way to set yourself apart from the video crowd is to work on developing a unique personal video style for yourself.

Lucky for us, one of the wonderful things about making video is how easy it is to examine the works of the masters of our craft. Compared to sculpture, for example, you don’t need to go to a museum in a large city to look at every angle and nuance of a piece of art in order to experience the expressions of the great video producers. All you need to do is watch a movie.

Every movie director, from Alfred Hitchcock to Quentin Tarentino has his or her own storytelling and producing style. Every TV show from comedies like Home Improvement and Seinfeld to dramas and reality shows have a weekly format and style that they follow. They have an open, set a stage, create a conflict or puzzle that they will solve or pass on as a cliffhanger to the next episode. They then end the show with a close of some kind. Even though their show concepts differ, they all have on thing in common: consistency.

Without consistency, your elements of style might be perceived as imperfections or mistakes. When the MTV Network first introduced its ‘shaky hand-held camera’ style, most viewers thought that the camera operators were lazy or had a little too much to drink. However, after watching more and more, that shaky hand-held look became the MTV style.

Some styles can be overwhelming. You may have seen the movie Hulk a few years ago. The director used many effects that you often see on TV commercials. The Hulk style used split screen and picture in picture effects throughout. Although fans knew that the director was just following the multi-framed style of the comic books, some viewers saw this style as confusing and lost the immersive feeling of being in the movie, due to the need to concentrate on following the plot. Indeed, few producers seem to have copied or embraced the new ground blazed by Hulk.

You might consider using a style that is quite the opposite–a style that is so subtle that it is hard to notice. A special length to your dissolves, or a particular placement for your title bylines, for instance. This can be a sign of success if your goal is to establish a special ‘feel’ to your work that is more finesse than sledgehammer. This personal style becomes your ‘signature,’ and over time others may notice its uniqueness as yours, and perhaps will try to imitate it.

Matthew York is Videomaker’s Publisher/Editor

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