One of the hardest disciplines for any media producer to master is the art of producing in various aesthetic styles, which may be very different than one’s personal preference. Consequently, very few producers create content merely for their own viewing enjoyment. Of course not.
To this end, most video projects are created for a specific audience that does not include the producer, writer, director, camera operator or editor. While this seems like an obvious reality to point out, it is invaluable to apply. Plus, this principle has an immense impact on the success of a production.
Take my recent experience at a party for example. I was recently at a reception hosted in the home of a friend who maintains a gluten-free diet. Yet, in addition to preparing some glutenless goodies as options for other GF partygoers, she primarily provided a wide-range of gluten-full treats for the larger group of the attendees.
Of course, she could have imposed her personal dietary practices and preferences on the entire group. Yet, she knew that the food she was preparing was not ultimately for her own ingestion and enjoyment, but for other people with different tastes and expectations.
Thus, we will be infinitely more effective as makers of compelling media if we always produce — from concept to final edit — with a very specific viewing audience in mind. Moreover, knowing who will watch a video at the end of the process, and in what context, makes all the difference in the aesthetic choices that the producer makes at every phase along the way.
We will be infinitely more effective as makers of compelling media if we always produce — from concept to final edit — with a very specific viewing audience in mind.
For instance, a video on fire safety that will be used to train the elderly residents of a retirement community should merit a different shooting style, music style, edit pace, font style and size and overall run time than a video on the same topic that will be used to educate fourth-grade public school students. While the main points of the message are identical, the look and feel of the edit must be contextualized to the specific audience who will ultimately consume the content.
Furthermore, understanding the viewing environment can be equally important. A video that will be consumed by one thousand individuals watching as independent viewers one at a time on their cell phones may call for different decisions than a video that will be projected onto multiple large screens at a conference with 1000 attendees watching simultaneously.
Indeed, the impact of environment has major implications on components such as audio mixing too. A mix that sounds great on computer speakers at your edit desk may get muddy when played over a PA in a high school gymnasium. Music may drown out dialogue when that same piece is played over a high end sound system in a theater.
The point of this article is not to delve into the specifics of exactly how to hone the mix of your audio or how to definitively alter the pace or style of your edit decisions for these various viewing environments, but to draw attention to the reality, with any edit, it is not your personal tastes or preferences that matter. The measure of success for the video you create is how well it is received by the audience that it’s intended to reach.