Oberlin Blogs

Can I have 5 minutes of your time?

February 12, 2014

Zach Christy

We live in a fast world and people's attention spans have changed. Now it's up to people in media to hit people with content quickly, but still effectively. Gone (or nearly gone) are the days where people will sit and watch your 12-minute-long short film. And if they do, it must be exceptionally good or people have some connection to it ahead of time. So, as someone who considers myself a storyteller above all, a challenge pokes its head. How do we tell great stories in less time?

And I am not sure there is a direct answer--

The best advice I got when I was in college was to get into a scene as late as possible and get out as early as you can. And that is generally how I try to work. If something even remotely starts to drag, people will switch over to another website, check their phone, flip channels on their tv, or simply just stop watching. At that point, you might have lost that viewer forever.

So what can be done to change that?

And I think the simple solution is to make content better, more accessible and more sharable. Easy enough, right?

Over the past year (well, since April 2013) I have been constantly striving to make content that people not only like, but also will watch and hopefully share. This has been done to varying degrees, but I think the way things are packaged is a huge factor. Video can work well on various platforms, but it needs to be presented differently.

I think chapters (or episodes) can be a huge reason for people to watch and continue to watch, so while the "whole story" might be 8 minutes long, 4 episodes might be an easier way to get the point across. If people are interested after 1 episode, they will watch episode 2, and at that point they are half done and figure why not just watch the rest.

HBO and Netflix have used this method quite well with their TV shows. As things end, it immediately queues up the next episode and suddenly you realize you've watched 3 hours of something.

So is it trickery to get people to watch stuff? Maybe. Or maybe not--because YouTube allows for us to make things like playlists.

We just finished a short series of videos featuring one of the coolest things Oberlin has to offer--Art Rental.

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