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Jason Hsiao on Video Production

Colyn Montgomery

Jason Hsiao photo

Jason Hsiao is a former TV producer and President of Animoto.

He’s here to share some insights from his days in television about how to produce a great video.

What makes a great Animoto video?

I think that the best Animoto videos capture the feeling of a movie trailer. A movie trailer doesn’t try to recreate the whole movie, and likewise the goal of an Animoto video should not be to recreate the whole event or experience. It should capture the highlights, the best of the best moments, and the mood. It should leave you wanting more. It should leave you wanting to watch it again.

Can you share any important lessons with us from your TV days?

Two important things. First, remember that less is more. In the world of TV and film, we typically start by putting in everything we think is important, then we say, okay, now how do we cut this in half? In other words, how do I convey everything I want to in as short of time as possible?

Second, don’t neglect the beginning and end of your videos. In TV it’s all about the beginning and the end. It’s about capturing that first impression. And it’s about leaving them with something they’ll never forget.

Can you elaborate on that second point? Do you know of any good tricks to capture the audience’s attention?

Sure, you have to ask yourself what you can show in the beginning that will make people want to watch until the end. Create conflict that requires resolution. What if the first image is a street sign that says, “no skateboarding”, and the second image is of someone picking up his skateboard. What if in a different video, the beginning had text that said, “There’s something I haven’t told you…”

Are you saying the video should tell a story?

It’s great to see videos that have a story arc. A story doesn’t have to be long, if you think about it, even good 30-second commercials have a mini-arc to them.

Thanks Jason! Any last tips?

If you want to make your Animoto video feel more like a TV or film production and less like a slide show, don’t forget to include establishing shots. Before you show everyone partying, show a shot of the outside of the bar. Before you show people having coffee, show a sign of the cafe they’re in.