Why Not All Online Video is the Same.

Illustration of Video Question Mark

What type of video do you need and why does it really matter?  

First, a little bit of history. You may wonder why the question is even relevant. After all, a video is a video and any video will do. Right?

Not quite. You really need to know why a Filmic production and a Videography approach are different from each other. Better to know this before you spend your hard earned cash on something inappropriate for your business.

Your producer will be happy to take your money before imposing their preferences regardless of the difference. After all, it was you who choose them to produce your video.

Film or Video? 

There are any number of different types of on-line video that will work to the advantage of your business. There are however only two traditional schools from which most producers will come from. Each will take a slightly different approach to producing a video for you.

If you’re a business owner, or a marketing person, it’s unlikely that you secretly aspire to be a Ridley Scott or an Andrew Marr. You’re also unlikely to be interested in the difference between each of these beyond the obvious. One creates cinematic epics while the other interrogates people on TV.

Film based storytelling followed on from the development of photography while television has in many ways developed as an extension of broadcast radio. 

The internet may be revolutionary, but is really no more than a low cost distribution vehicle. It is available to everyone, for both of these storytelling formats. The result is a blurring of the differences between each. Their final objectives however, audience engagement, are shared. Knowing the core difference between each may help you decide which production format will best suit your needs.

Illustration Film Camera Studio TV Camera

Cinematic or Broadcast

Each has their style preferences and traditions.

Going back to its origins, film making is a visually driven storytelling experience. Everything from the draft script forward was/is planned in great detail before any actual filming ever takes place. Sets, props, cast, costumes and locations are all planned to support the script and reinforce or enhance the story being told.

The film industry has always been driven by the desire to deliver the best quality. The most dramatic and the most impactful image driven storytelling experience possible. Music, sound effects, animation, film treatments and special effects are used to enhance that storytelling experience. 

This film based approach to video, if produced for viewing on-line, is broadly referred to as being “Filmic”. It includes many photographic and traditional film based considerations. These have fuelled many discussions within the on-line video community over recent years. 

The debate has in part been encouraged by the development of increasingly sophisticated, mass produced, digital cameras. These new High Resolution Digital SLR cameras are able capture cinematic quality video. They are however limited to recording more than around 30 minutes of content in a single take. 

Less useful for recording long live events but great for shooting, short action driven, cinematically dramatic clips.

Photograph Family Watching TV

Broadcast ( Speaking to the people ) 

Creative visual storytelling or record as it happens? 

Broadcast television has over time been influenced by film based storytelling techniques. But at its core is a live event or news-based medium. 

In its infancy. All of its productions were broadcast live because the technology needed to record them was both expensive and not widely available. Production disciplines therefore developed to manage broadcast content. The technologies needed to support them and the more immediate nature of the content dictated this evolution. Resulting in the creation of various styles of content which one is unlikely to see used in a cinematic production.

These include, live events, news presentations, interviews, testimonials, open debates or studio based discussions. Yet some styles, such as fly on the wall documentaries and first person adventure stories. Have found their way onto the big screen. By the same token, many traditionally cinematic techniques. Are now being used in the production of video content primarily produced for broadcast. Rather than viewing at a cinema.

Illustration YouTube Logo

As with many changes in recent years. The lines between both have become a little blurred. 

The continued growth of “On-Demand” film / video content via cable, satellite or broadband connection is in many respects. A refection of these same changes in  consumption habits and consumer expectations. The digital revolution, the internet, new technologies and ultimately YouTube. Have caused much cross-fertilisation of styles and storytelling techniques. Here are a few points to consider before you invest in producing your own videos as a business communications tool.

Illustration of Video Type Pros and Cons List

Here are a few things you might like to think about before you produce your next video.

1) Define or describe what you would like your video to achieve right from the start. This will help you select the style most likely to work best in meeting that objective. Some examples of a defined outcome might be. “To provide an educational resource for our staff”. While another might be “to encourage more website visitors to buy product ( xxx )from us”.

2) Always set out to work from a basic plan of the content you need. Even a talking head video. ie someone simply talking to camera news reader style. Will need an opening or title sequence. Some text giving the speaker’s name and possibly their job title position within the business. Plus ideally. A sign off slide or graphic at the end with a clear call to action.

3) If your video is going to form part of a library of video resources. Then it is well worth creating a standard graphic look from the outset. This will help provide your collection with a common corporate brand look.

4) Technical, service or product specific videos. Will benefit from you spending time either looking for, or in creating, a library of supporting visual resources. These should be based on the content of your script. They might include photographs, other video footage. Computer screen shots or created graphics. Or drawn or rendered illustrations of things which are referred to by the narrator in your video.

Illustration List Of Video Type Pros and Conns

5) Talking head videos will benefit greatly from either some form of movement or other visual interest being shown instead of the narrator. In an ideal world you might take a more filmic approach by hiding the speaker / narrator completely with a series of well planned visual references. This can be time consuming and often difficult to do. Particularly if the subject matter is relatively dry or intellectually driven.

Should this be the case then this may be time you considered producing an illustrated story told in a video format or animation.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Social Sound Bite - Jim O'Connor - Author: STORIES THAT SELL.

6) Two cameras are better than one while three will be still better. Even if one of them is no more than a GoPro. This is because this second and third views allow you to break up any long monologues. With a change of perspective every now and then in the edit. It is a relatively simple way of making a potentially monotonous video a lot easier to watch.

7) Alway try to use natural daylight if you can. Place your camera or cameras facing away from a window. Any additional light you can throw onto your subject will also help. You will find plenty of “how to light an xxx scene” videos on YouTube without us delving into the detail now.

8) Knowing where your audience is most likely to be found will influence both the type and length of video you should produce. If you don’t know this from the outset, don’t expect the average video or animation producer to do that thinking for you.

9) Having a distribution plan in place from the outset is essential. Particularly when you expect to get a return on your investment. Your plan does not need to be complicated, just have one.


Using video for and in your business can be as complicated as you choose to make it. My advice is to learn a little about the full range of styles and uses of each before deciding on which will be the most appropriate for your particular business needs.

Just as not all video is the same. Not every on-line video producer will take the same approach or recommend creating the same type of video.

Knowing that there is a difference and that these differences will ultimately have an impact on the cost should help you decide which type or style is most likely to help you achieve your goals.

This new awareness may also provide you with some guidance on what you might consider doing yourself "in-house". Some video types are not worth spending a lot on money on while still serving a purpose and adding value to your business.

About the Author

I'm Sam Finlay, the founder of moreVisible and I originally trained as an Industrial Designer back in the early 80s. My career developed from technical illustration and visualising within the manufacturing sector, to design consultancy servicing high street retailers and brands, visualising future products, explaining how these would look or function for B2B presentations. Before moving my creative skills into online video & animation production for the digital economy in 2008.