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Stevie Clifton on the Power of Video



Stevie Clifton, co-founder and CTO of Animoto, speaks with passion about the value of video and why it’s his mission to help everyone tell their story.

This is adapted from a speech he gave in early 2012.

At Animoto, we spend a lot of time talking about what we’re building and the initiatives we’re focused on. That’s good business. But here are some questions I want to ask you:

Why does it matter?  Why are we building this video creator?  Why would anyone want to make a video?

Here’s why: after spending years in the video production process, Animoto’s co-founder Jason and I came to realize that there is no medium on earth that can communicate in a more human way than video. It marries the two most powerful senses we have: seeing and hearing.

A well-produced video both distills and amplifies an experience, oftentimes being even better than real life, even better than the experience you remember.

A while back, our friend Yolanda made a video about her dad. It was one of the most moving Animoto videos I’ve ever watched. That’s because I was able to see her dad through her eyes, in a way that I don’t think I would have ever been able to experience through a conversation with her, or by looking at pictures, or reading something she had written.

Video is a singularly unique way to experience something the way someone else sees it.

Directors, really good directors, understand this. When you marry good storytelling with compelling visuals and music, it’s one of the most potent ways that we’re able to communicate.

A recent, simple example I’ve seen is the promotional video for Facebook’s Timeline. It was the promotional video that Mark Zuckerberg used on stage when Facebook was unveiling their new timeline feature.  The reason this video is so great is that, in some ways, it’s a better way to experience Facebook Timeline data than Facebook Timeline itself_._ In most cases, I don’t want to wade through the entire history of someone’s life.  I want the distilled, amplified summary of this guy’s life that can only be achieved through a well-produced video.

If you turn off the music and just look at the pictures one-by-one, he just looks like a normal dorky guy who grows up, gets married, and has a kid. Pretty standard story.  But the landmarks in his life, timed to the music in a visually compelling way, hitting the emotional parts at just the right time, evoking nostalgia and hope for the future, suddenly make this an epic, moving story. It’s crazy powerful when you think about it.

So why video? Why Animoto?  We are building something that empowers people to share an experience in a way words or pictures can’t express on their own.