Text on a screen is just ‘information’. It requires brain power to interpret, and effort to consume.

Video is emotional information - it tells a story, and that’s why it works. It can make people feel something in a very primitive part of the brain. People may not need a product, but if they want it – they’ll buy it. Video can make people laugh, cry, scream, feel sympathy, want to help – any emotion you care to think of.

Here are just 5 of the ways in which a good video production will get inside the audience’s head and make them feel what you want them to.


Wait – music? I thought we were talking about video?

Well - just have a look at these alternative soundtrack versions of two of the most iconic scenes in cinematic history, (both, featuring rather brutal deaths of women)

Jaws - the opening scene

You'll never watch that movie the same way again.... and

Psycho - the shower scene

Altering the soundtrack alters your emotional perception UTTERLY - even though the visuals remain unchanged. Suddenly you’re calm or laughing where before you were cringing or hiding.

Audio is the emotional powerhouse, nothing pulls emotions around (manipulates!) as strongly. It can take people on an emotional rollercoaster journey from gentle calmness to excitement and back again in the space of a few seconds. And it’s not just music: Voice-over, Presenters, Sound-Effects – any audio element contributes to this. Choosing the right audio track therefore is of paramount importance.

It’s worth noting that we use the term ‘audience’ for video – there’s no such word ‘videance’. Audio so powerful – if the audio is even slightly wrong, a production will fail.


The video isn’t the video, the video is the edit. ‘Pace’ is the perceived speed of a video – which is delivered by both the content and the editing. The body and mind respond subconsciously. Thanks to adrenaline, video pace can literally alter the heartbeat of the viewer to match.


A faster pace equates in our subconscious to ‘urgency’ or ‘excitement’, a slower one relates to their opposites. Pace is not the emotional sledgehammer that audio is – it’s a subtle tool. A 60 second video which is ‘slightly’ too fast will force the brain to concentrate a little more, retaining more of the message.

However, for a 120 second video with double the information, the opposite is true. Use with care.


Colour Psychology

Colour psychology is a fairly well known area of visual design.

The principles hold true within video: Reds can catch the eye’s attention – they poke at the subconscious and say ‘important’, ‘danger’ or ‘urgent’. Greens are usually associated with nature or conservation, Blues with business and professionalism (think of IBM, Microsoft et al).

In the context of a corporate video where a Brand is being delivered, colour can be carefully matched to deliver an emotion that should be associated with it, for example 'Confidence' or 'Security'.



A Baby

The human brain is a marvellous thing – but we’re programmed by millions of years of evolution. We have a built-in scale of importance of what to look at.

Faces usually draw subconscious attention away from anything lower down our 'importance scale' such as animals. Animals take priority over objects.

There’s a distinct hierarchy as to what kind of person we look at first too. We can’t help it – we’re programmed that way.

Babies usually win, followed by ‘Young’ ‘Happy’ or ‘Healthy’ people. It depends to some extent on the context of who the audience is, and who they identify with.

There are two main reasons many TV ads use young, good-looking models. Firstly, to make us want to be them and aspire to the lifestyle they're apparently leading with product xyz, and secondly because our eyes find them attractive to look at.


In video, something is almost always in motion on the screen – otherwise it would be a photograph.

Camera motion can keep attention focussed on a shot, where otherwise the shot would look static or boring. You’ll probably have seen the large cranes and vehicles they attach cameras to for making movies – it makes the shot more interesting.

Camera mounted on crane

Motion can mean panning the camera, which is essentially looking left and right, or tracking the camera which makes the viewer feel like they’re moving. A combination of both of these is often used to help take the viewer on their emotional journey.

Just by using these 5 techniques (and there are many many more), a cleverly designed video can push and pull the viewers emotions. A clever video can tell the audience how to feel, what to look at, what to pay attention to. It can dictate what information they retain, and what we can distract them from. With video, we can alter the heatbeat, or make someone laugh.

With video, we can tell a story.

What do you think? If you agree with any of the points in this article, share it to your associates, colleages and friends.