4 Reasons Your Video Sucks

This post will explain …
  • Four Ways to Determine if Your Video Sucks
  • Solutions to Keep Your Video from Sucking

Do you wonder if your video is any good? Are you afraid of embarrassing yourself by making it public where your friends and family might see it? Worse yet, where strangers will judge you? Worse even, where your business relies on clear, professional, and engaging videos?

You could do nothing – never show anyone your video and save yourself the humiliation. Just squash the urge to create. Miss out on all that video has to offer. But …

  • The benefits outweigh the negatives because creativity is an end in itself.
  • Video is the language of the 21st Century.
  • Video is essential to any kind of promotional work, education, entertainment, and communication.

Four Ways to Determine if Your Video Sucks:

1. You didn’t make the video with your audience in mind.

Don’t assume that just because you make it, they will come. They won’t.

The internet is too cluttered competing for eyeballs. Don’t expect people to stumble on your video, no matter how great, artistic, or creative it might be.

Solution: Craft your video around a group or person.

People search for content based on their interests. Make videos they want to see. Even if you make obscure content, consider who will want to watch it, what you can offer them, and develop the idea with them in mind. Find your audience rather than have them find you.

When you make videos for an audience it helps you focus on your message and brings clarity to your approach to telling the story.

If you are trying to build an audience (and we all are), you want to offer them something that benefits their lives, helps them learn something new, even sells them a product. The more you focus who your video is for, the more likely you are going to connect with an audience that is looking for you.

Don’t waste anyone’s time — especially your own.

You say, “I’m making the video for myself.” Great. Enjoy. It won’t matter to you if others think your video sucks.

Photo by Krists Luhaers on Unsplash

2. You don’t have a story.

If your ‘story’ falls apart, so will your audiences’ attention. We watch because we want to find out what happens next. If there isn’t a promise of something happening, there is no reason for an audience to keep watching.

You have five seconds before an audience is going to click away. If you don’t build their interest, your audience won’t hesitate to move on to the next video.

Solution: Learn how to tell a story.

A story is action, information, and decisions.

What makes it a story? The audience has something at stake; the informationis applicable, the action makes them anticipate what might happen next, and decisions made by people in the video are something the audience cares about.

You need to learn something about story structure and understand how to build character, plot, conflict, and resolution.

You don’t need happy endings. But something has to happen. Juvenile videos on YouTube with lots of views have something that happens. They have a beginning, middle, and end — even if it all occurs in 6 seconds.

3. Your video is too slow + too simple.

You aren’t creating layers of audiovisual elements. Audiences are sophisticated and expect to see professional work, even if you aren’t a professional.

Video isn’t just pretty moving pictures. There are many layers of information going on in any video – and when these layers are combined, they compound the information of your video and make it compelling and professional.

Solution: Learn how to make the most of audiovisual elements.

I have been lecturing for 20 years on this topic. The lecture usually takes two hours. I’ll give you the super-abbreviated version.

Videos (audiovisuals) are broken into two categories: audio and visual (you guessed at least that much) — or picture and sound.

Use the picture and sound elements explained below to take your video on to the next level.

Picture Elements have four subcategories:

a) montage; audiences make sense of the story through the juxtaposition of image after image. The audience is informed by what they see.

b) talking heads; audiences makes sense of the story by what characters/subjects on screen tell them. Not to be mistaken with a sound element, the talking head has more to do with the audiences’ connection with the person represented on screen and ‘the way’ they communicate.

c) cutaways/closeups do two things; 1. they free the video from ‘real time’ by breaking up longer shots and, 2. help the audience discover information they would not pay attention to in a wide shot. Remember, a picture tells a thousand words (add audio to it and the juxtaposition multiplies it by a hundred).

d) graphics: anything added in the edit that was not shot by the camera is a graphic. It includes text, shapes in motion, animation, and visual effects. You would be shocked if you realized how often graphics are used in videos. Pay attention the next time you are watching and you will see my point.

Sound Elements have four subcategories:

a) dialogue: this includes sync dialogue (where the audience sees the person talking on-screen) and non-sync dialogue (where the person talks off-screen, including narration).

b) music: this includes score (music that has nothing to do with the reality on-screen, the characters/subjects don’t hear or react to it) and source (music that comes from within the world on-screen that characters hear and respond to).

c) sound effects: like dialogue, sound effects include sync (the audience sees the source of the sound) and non-sync (audience does not see the source of the sound because it takes place off-screen).

d) ambience/background sound: this is the environmental sounds found in a location. It is often added from libraries of ambient recordings. It covers the entire scene and makes the world seem that much more believable.

(There is another layer of sound referred to as non-diegetic sound. See future blogs, take a look at FilmSchoolSound on Facebook, or just google it.)

I outline these elements so that you will think about them in your next video. Make a list for how you will incorporate each (most) element(s) and I guarantee your videos will suck way less.

“Apple desktop computer with editing software on the screen with keyboard and printer” by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

4. Your sound is bad.

One of the most common problems of videos that suck has to do with the sound. Why? Because audiences immediately assume that if the sound is bad, the video and story are bad too.

Common sound problems include;

  • the sound of your video and is too loud
  • the sound of your video is too quiet
  • parts of your recording distorts
  • you can’t hear what people say because of loud background noise
  • the microphone was too far away from the source of sound
  • etc, etc, etc

Solution: Fix your sound problems.

This is not easy because the solution isn’t brief. However, I can point you in some directions;

  • Adobe has software tools that help to enhance dialogue and remove or reduce unwanted background noise.
  • At $200, iZotope RX is an industry favourite that reduces unwanted sound in recordings. I started using it at version 1 and it has saved my bacon numerous times.
  • Hire an expert. Sound editors work remotely. A quick search online will uncover numerous people to fit your budget.
Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

What’s next? Sorry there isn’t a magic wand you can wave to transform everything into perfection (except for maybe fixing the sound).

Video making is a journey, a skill that takes time and practice.

Your first few videos are going to suck – as did/do mine. Push on; they will get better.

Remember to …
Focus on creating for your audience.
Give it a story: problem, journey, and resolution.
Adding layers of picture and sound elements makes the story interesting.
Don’t send your video out into the world with bad sound.

If you know someone who would find this article benefitial, please share it.

Happy video making!