For me, cinema is essentially emotion. It is pieces of film joined together that create an idea, which in turn creates an emotion in the mind of the audience. Not through spoken words, but through the visuals. It’s a visual medium. And montage is the main thing. All moviemaking is pure montage.
— Alfred Hitchcock
The term montage, as used by Hitchcock above, was coined by the Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein, to denote a “scientific” editing process in which a sequence of unrelated images is calculated to evoke the idea you want the audience to go along with.
This approach was validated in a clever experiment by the filmmaker and theorist Lev Kuleshov, with whom Eisenstein studied in the 1920s. Kuleshov concocted a movie that presents the same film clip of an actor’s face intercut with an image of a of a young girl in a coffin, then with a plate of soup, and, finally, with an alluring woman on a divan. The actor’s expression never varies, but the audience was aroused, nonetheless, by what they saw as sensitive portrayals of sadness, hunger, and lust. And they praised the actor’s range!
What’s the big idea?
Of course, your marketing video is probably not trying to achieve its emotional effect with Bolshevist film editing techniques. But you are trying to create ideas and positive feelings.
This is not the same as communicating a “message.” A typical technology solution “messaging document” starts out with a lot of context, like this:
Automation is critically important to IT departments. Automation standardizes and simplifies day-to-day operations, reduces costs, and increases agility. Effective automation can only be achieved with Enterprise Integration.
This is all correct and clear, and may contain the Big Idea, but it is clearly not filmable. Even as dialog between movie stars, it would be unwatchable.
Finding the filmable ideas
We begin our scripting process by looking for the ideas that are filmable. Some may be found in messaging documents. Messaging for the solution introduced above, would describe — and probably list — the software and types of systems being integrated. The list would consist of names like SAP, Cognos, Hive, Hadoop, AWS, Oracle, VMware, and system types like database, email, file.
Because there are recognizable logos and icons for all these items, we know we’re going to be able to compose a cheerful and colorful “bit of film” to convey the idea of “Integration.” Cap off the montage with a clip of some kittens, and we’re on our way 🙂
What is the point?
A big challenge in making a product-oriented explainer is sticking to the point. Technology products generally have numerous features and benefits and use cases. Which ones to lead with, and what to leave out, are key decisions. Thinking about your video as a set of film clips that need to sequenced can be very helpful in making these decisions, if only because you will have already discarded the unfilmable ideas!
For more ideas about the kinds of thinking that should go into your technology marketing video, check out our latest guide, Creating Technology Marketing Videos with Shareable Ideas.