For my MA with Raindance I’ve been watching the pilot episodes of web series and have recently passed 200! I thought it would be a good time to stop and mention some highlights — from the perspective of a practitioner and writer/director/producer more than a critic. I’ll keep comments brief […]

After a fair break, I’ve decided to restart the ‘Short Ideas’ blog as a chronicle of my journey of making a web series. It’ll be a 2-year journey as this is being done as a part-time self–directed MA with Raindance, so there will be deep dives into audience building, crowdfunding, […]

Animation Story Format Thanks for joining the 3rd part of our discussion on formats, with animation rounding out the topic. A favourite for videos that need to explain complex ideas, animation is a vast and wonderful domain, but I would be cautious about recommending it to a client without there […]

Story Formats continued Carrying on with last week’s look at story formats, here is our discussion on the interview-based format. Interview–Based An interview–based style presents the upfront challenge of not knowing exactly what someone will say or how they will phrase it. Writing it out is still essential, though, as […]

Story Format Apart from the constraints of its particular genre, short videos can follow several different methods of conveying the story. These are: 1. Live–Action Narrative 2. Interview—Based 3. Direct Address 4. Observational 5. Animation 6. Abstraction To keep these posts a manageable size, we’ll split off Interview–Based and Animation […]

Finishing The Treatment Last week, we looked at the essential parts of the treatment and discussed how they are a reaction to the brief. With your concepts selected and developed, it’s time get some visual references in there and submit the treatment for review. Visual References A really helpful (though […]

Writing The Treatment The treatment is your best friend. I would never do a job without one. It is your contract, it is your safety net, it lays out all of the important parameters so that there are as few misunderstandings as possible. A good treatment forces clarity between everyone […]

Short Script Writing Finally. Script writing! Your treatment has gone over well and you’ve been given the go ahead to develop a concept into a script. Congratulations. First, you need to decide on the script’s format. The traditional film script format is less useful than the A/V script, which is […]

The Stages of Creative Development For creatives working in the commercial sphere, there are general stages of creative development that a job needs to pass through to keep everyone sane and things moving smoothly. Sometimes, though, you don’t have the time to fit them all in — or your instinct […]

The Brief In Depth The foundation of any job is the brief. The brief defines the creative and technical scope of the job. It is the guiding light that helps keep you on track, providing the founding principles to which you will test your creative project through its journey to […]

Music Videos Good music videos are deceptively complex, and the styles run a huge gamut. They are part commercial and part promo in practice, but these goals are not intrinsic to the genre. The juxtaposition of the sound and the image form a critical relationship, and this is where we […]

Review Review videos are anything where a subject is speaking directly to camera as themselves. The feel here is that the person is speaking authentically to the audience, and there are usually stylistic trappings that should be observed, whether it’s in the “rant” style of a speaker doing a walk-and-talk […]

Factual Documentary, editorial and journalism videos use the real world as subject with varying degrees of objectivity. I would shy away from journalism proper, as this is a very specific tradition with a burden of balanced perspective that is probably best left to someone trained in that area. Documentaries wear […]

Internal Communications Larger companies need videos created for all kinds of internal communications, whether it’s a CEO delivering an annual “state of the union” speech, HR updating staff on best practices, a departmental presentation or a visual opener to a gathering. These often feature a lot of talking heads, stock […]

Branded Content This is the classic commercial “online video” that people think of, and that advertisers can’t get enough of. It may look like a spontaneously created video, but it’s really some branded content — content that a brand has paid for. Cue food recipes that go great with Brand […]

Brand Films Part 2 Thank you for continuing this look at the brand films. Last week we began our look at the scope of the genre and the first few examples. Let’s continue— What is a platform – IBS Brand Film This film follows a familiar pattern for brand films […]

Brand Film A brand film is generally a higher–end budget film where a client is trying to define their brand characteristics to the viewer rather than feature a specific product. The convention is that brand film is brand–focused, not product–focused, which offers its distinction from a typical commercial. So unless […]

Training On the face of it, training and tutorial videos are the most functionally–based of all the genres, but don’t forget their use as a sales and marketing tool. Clients love to show these as both a user–friendly, benevolent feature as well as an additional, subscription–based bolt on to the […]

Event Films Event films are commonly a document of a moderated panel or a product launch. The former doesn’t offer much room for writing, as the camera crew and editor will largely be “following the puck”, but you may want to consider what context needs to be established in an […]

PSA Public Services Announcements (PSA), or Public Information Films in the UK, are traditionally commercial–length messages created to communicate a message of social benefit or interest to the public. These can encourage certain social behaviour, like “don’t text and drive”, or inform the public about the existence of a charity […]

Writing The Script The value of a script is too often undervalued in short format media. It is the core document upon which a production is based, serving as the central point upon which every department turns. The size or urgency of a production can make participants think that their […]

The Short Ideas book is finally available to order from Amazon. It contains all of the topics that will be discussed here on the blog, along with lots of diagrams and professional anecdotes, but you won’t have to wait for all of the posts to trickle out. Please buy a […]

Promo Genre In Two Weeks! Next Week! Thursday! Tomorrow! Tonight! Up Next! Any bit of content can use a promotion to tell your audience that something is (or will be) available that should interest them. The promo genre stems from broadcast where you want your captive audience to know about […]

Commerical Genre Welcome to part two of our look at the commercial genre — part one is here. Last week, we considered the ‘product and service’ focus which is the hallmark of the category and discussed how distribution of commercials outside of traditional on–air broadcast has offered a great deal […]

Video Genres Just as there are endless styles of feature film or television series, there are a great many different types of video that you can encounter out in the world. Not to be confused with the format, the medium or the distribution method, the genre reflects the overall purpose […]