Unless you've been living under a rock, you would know that consumption of video on mobile devices is the new normal. Latest stats show that *70% of YouTube audiences and 90% of Facebook users are on mobile devices. So if you're creating video or animated content for audiences on mobile devices, you should be designing your content for the medium. Here some of the main considerations:
1. Aspect Ratio
A question that clients are often not expecting is "What aspect ratio do you want to make your video in". Here's a few popular flavours:
But a viewer can turn their screen sideways to view 16:9 right? Wrong - by default we hold mobile devices vertically with one hand - and a *recent study found that only just over 20% of users will actually turn their device sideways to view a landscape format video.
Clearly the full 9:16 vertical occupies the most screen real estate. But the full frame vertical format can be tricky to design for, and won't suit all content. If you're on the fence 1:1 square is a good compromise. If you have a dual requirement for mobile and traditional (16:9) audiences - then ask your supplier if they can provide your content in 2 formats - say square and 16:9 - they might say yes.
Videos that appear in the newsfeed of Facebook, Linkedin and Instagram are mute by default - unless the user switches the sound on. How do we design for this?
The safest assumption is that the entire video will be viewed mute - which means your film should be designed to be understood without sound (deja vu - the silent film era - have we gone full circle?).
If your message relies on dialog, add subtitles to the mobile version. Trouble with subtitles is they're not pretty, and may cover important parts of the image. So keep the lower third empty if you know sub's are being added later. Alternatively design it as a kinetic text piece - where the text becomes a part of the design, instead of an add-on.
*Recent studies have shown that text support in videos can increase view time up to 30%. Lets face it - text plastered over the screen is the new normal in mobile video - so design for it, rather than stick it on top as an afterthought.
To make your soundtrack pop out of a crappy mobile speaker system, don't use a track that relies on bass - cuz it may not be heard. Use a track that emphasises the mid-range so that the highs and lows are not lost if viewed in a noisy environment.
Optimum duration will depend on the social media platform your content is going out on. *Facebook states that to capture attention, branded content should be only 6 to 15 seconds duration! Facebook also cites the 3-second rule - that the first three seconds is how long it takes for people to decide to continue watching or not (it wasn't that long a go this was the 10-second rule - how quickly things change!). Facebook also recommends to present your brand in the first 1-2 seconds - if you are making branded content - which is totally contrary to TV commercial mentality where your couch potato audience is presented the logo at the end.
Instagram and Snapchat audiences have similar concentration spans! Linkedin audiences on the other hand have a little more patience and are more likely to persevere for longer durations of a minute or more. YouTube audiences are the champions when it comes to viewing staying power - with *average viewing times of around 14 minutes.
One thing is for sure across all social media channels - you gotta create a killer intro with a solid hook in the first few seconds to keep people around.
The challenge is to tell a story in short duration - which done well can be awesome. With this in mind - perhaps the new story paradigm for say a 15 second social media video might look like this:
ACT 1 - 1-3 seconds - the killer intro - the most compelling part of the story. Hook the audience here or it's likely you'll lose them. Better give them a whiff of the brand here too - in case they decide not to stick around.
ACT 2 - 4-11 seconds - the body of the story - more context - reveals, twists - live up to the expectations of the killer intro. 10 seconds is the big threshold - if you can get a viewer to commit to ten seconds - it's likely they'll stay 'till the end.
ACT 3 - 12 - 15 seconds - the climax - the film leads to it's exciting conclusion, Don't disappoint - pull the rug out from under your audience - surprise them, shock them, make them laugh, or cry.
5. Camera angles
Gone are the big beautiful wide establishing shots that languish on the screen for 6 or 7 lazy seconds. Instead it’s a quick full shot or medium shot to establish. Or maybe skip the establishing shot altogether and go straight to the action. Keep your scenes uncluttered cuz the more in the shot the longer the audience needs to take it in - and time is something it seems small screen audiences don't want to commit to any more.
* Source Buffer blog