Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Size (actually length!) matters, but good and long is fine by me! (Oh dear, that sounds weird!)

Ok, I have been thinking quite a lot about the length of videos lately: a couple of people told me that the video on the Council Summit, shown in the last post, is maybe nicely done but it is definitely too long. True. Well, maybe.

This actually got me thinking: is it really always the case that short is better? Aren't we just contributing to the trend of the ever decreasing attention span of people, mainly young, who are not able to concentrate for more than 5 minutes before getting bored? Should we make a distinction between what has viral potential and what is interesting, informative and well done?

I guess part of the answer to these questions lies in what is the prime objective of the film maker: to reach the biggest audience? To explain something in more detail? To produce a beautiful film? Can and should one aim to achieve all of these objectives with a carefully crafted 5 minute video?

Blaise Pascal once wrote on the top of a 17 pages long letter: "I have made this letter rather long because I have not had time to make it shorter". So, in theory, with time and effort, it should be possible to condense a long thought into a much shorter one and that should surely also apply to videos. Certainly this is not done enough. But sometimes it is not the issue: if after watching the first two minutes of a long video you would rather shoot yourself than watch the rest, then it is simply not a good video, never mind the length!

On the other hand, there are amazing hours-long documentaries that are shown - unfortunately less and less - on television, then posted on Youtube: they grip you from the first seconds; they are very well done; they give you insights that you had no idea of and, most importantly, they leave you with something to think about and remember. To be fair, they are incredibly expensive and time consuming to produce, but the quality is truly outstanding. And it is sad that public broadcasters have dramatically reduced investing in these types of programmes because - they say - the audience is no longer interested in such lengthy and detailed films. True? Don't know really, probably yes.

Frankly though, if you asked me to chose between this:

(the second episode of a four part series on Putin, Russia and his relationship with the West) I am afraid this is no longer available due to BBC copyright!

...and this:

(more than 100 million views for....well have a look!)

...I know which one I would go for (all right, maybe I am very biased and it is an unfair comparison but this is where length, quality and virality clash...or do they? Guess what is considered the most viral video of all times?: the 30-minute long 'Kony 2012'!)

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