A visual demonstration of the production matrix we developed in the preproduction for MacNeal Hospital’s 2017 video series.
The series format seems to make sense for today’s consumer of media; which is all of us. As much as we say our attention span has decreased significantly we have – at the same time – become more patient as consumers of media. Instead of sitting down to a three-hour movie and watching it from start to finish, I watch a ten-episode season over the course of a longer period of time. It took me, I think, five days to watch Interstellar on Amazon. But the series format works for me because I’m able to invest my time into the story over a long period of time in self-contained portions.
The same trend exists in branded video content and there are clear benefits. The series allows a brand to take its time in telling more of the story to more people. Each individual video deliverable within the series can tell one specific aspect of the greater story; while maintaining the same overarching messaging.
BENEFIT A – The Power of Story
By telling a story instead of simply delivering information, you engage your audience and connect with them on a human level.
Over the course of ten months, MacNeal Hospital produced a twelve-part video series featuring individual service lines within the organization. Each video featured a documentary-style profile of a MacNeal patient or staff member. The first video features the story of Erasmo; a rehabilitation patient at MacNeal who survived a life-threatening infection. Woven into his story are the core details of the rehabilitation service line; including a personal connection to the staff.
If MacNeal would have attempted to tell the story of three of the hospital service lines in one “traditional” video, chances are (1) it would have been 10 or more minutes in length and (2) there would not have been relatable, human aspects to the narrative. And So, chances are, “today’s audience” would never get through it.
BENEFIT B – Brand Consistency
In mapping out the series, specific decisions can be made and production guidelines set in advance to maintain brand consistency. The overall style – frame size, backgrounds, lighting, etc – can then be implemented throughout production, so when you watch the second and third episode they feel connected to one another.
When videos are produced one at a time, often the span between production is much greater and, therefore, far more difficult to maintain the consistency.
BENEFIT C – Production Efficiency
From a practical standpoint, the series format saves money.
More times than not, the aspect of a video project with the greatest financial investment is the production phase. That’s when you go onsite or into a studio with lights, cameras, and crews. By mapping out multiple deliverables in advance, production resources (company staff, locations, production crew, equipment, etc) can be consolidated therefore reducing overall production days by maximizing each. The post-production (editing, graphics, finishing) can benefit equally in the coordinated distribution of time and resources. In the example of MacNeal, they were able to create 22 video deliverables in far fewer production days than would’ve been necessary because they embraced the strategy of serial video.
The series format is expanding beyond the narratives of Netflix to the world of branded content. Not only does this trend open the door to a new frontier of creativity in advertising, it allows for production benefits that strengthen the brand.