Visual grammar: how to "write" better images into your video.

Author:Salvo, Suzanne Scardino
Position:Visually speaking - Column

Do you consider yourself primarily a word communicator or a visual communicator? In both cases, you have the same goal: to engage an audience and convey information. And both methods are very effective for documenting facts and describing activities. Writers understand sentence structure and the nuances of composition. They know how to combine nouns, verbs and other parts of speech to tell a compelling story. For visual communicators, these same writing skills can and should be used to create imagery that is effective and memorable.

In 1964, Marshall McLuhan coined the famous phrase "The medium is the message," meaning that the delivery format and the content of a message are intrinsically linked, and that it's the medium, separate and apart from the actual information, that has the greater influence over how an audience perceives the message. Further, the quality of the medium can affect the decision to receive the data at all. Audiences today are becoming hyper-attuned to the production quality of corporate video simply because they now have a choice--correction, they have practically unlimited choices. And just like a poorly written article will make your audience stop reading, bad or boring video will have your audience looking elsewhere.

Studies show that most people prefer the medium of video over words as a means of receiving content. According to a recent Forbes article, YouTube is now the No. 2 search engine worldwide, yet another demonstration that online video is vital to modern marketing strategy.

Convert writing techniques to visual techniques

If your background is in writing, it can be challenging to create photos and videos that will emphasize key messages while keeping the audience engaged. Overcome that challenge by applying a few tried-and-true writing techniques. Start with:

* Who. This is the focal point and main character in the shot (that is, the noun/subject).

* What. This is the product (noun) or activity (verb).

* When. Use a particular lighting style to show the time of day (modifier).

* Where. The background should establish the location (prepositional phrase--for...

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