A new era of video making
Video production is evolving and is in the process of transformation—not only at ScienceAtHome but also on a global scale. Toni Genov started working with us in 2017 as a video content manager to produce more interesting content for social media and help to advertise the joint work of scientists, game developers, and visual artists. I took the chance to have a chat with Toni about his career as a video editor and current trends in video making, the clickbait, and IGTV.
From T-shirts to Momondo
Toni discovered his interest in videos in 2012 when he was selling T-shirts as a high-school student. He wanted to improve the business and figured out that a video commercial could help. The challenging task turned out to be an exciting one: Toni enjoyed the process of video making much more than selling T-shirts. That time, he was studying in a high school specialized in economics in Bulgaria. When he came to study in Denmark, he continued on a similar path, with Marketing Management. "Alongside my studies, I spent my free time with videos, attended events. More and more people started asking me for videos. Eventually, I've realized that the marketing management studies weren't really necessary for want I really wanted to do: focusing on video creation and improving my skills."
This realization led to a serious turn: Toni quit the university with a short cycle degree and decided to pursue a full-time video career. It wasn't that simple though, because the life in Denmark is very expensive. He had to take upon some dishwasher jobs and a never-ending loop of crazy night shifts has begun. That's when the path of ScienceAtHome and Toni finally met: ScienceAtHome was looking for a part-time video content manager. "I got positive feedback on my portfolio but I lived in another city and I was told that I was too far away. I remained persistent, keep telling that I don't mind the regular trips from Aalborg to Aarhus."
His dedication was more convincing than the distance. Toni's persistence earned him his first official job related to videos, thus a chance to quit dishwashing and finally focusing on his heart's choice: video production! "ScienceAtHome is the reason I managed to become a freelancer. I made promotional videos for startups and events and it kept on growing. My biggest hit was the work with Momondo when I traveled to Croatia for a few days to film Dubrovnik and make a travel video for them. This year in January, with a friend who is always helping with videos, we decided to start our own video production company—ANTO Visuals. While we mainly work with small startups, we managed to get some big deals in Denmark which gives us experience with businesses of all sizes."
It was the perfect match because ScienceAtHome also needed him very much to start creating more visual content for social media to give a better idea to the world about what we are doing at our Aarhus headquarters. "My role here is similar to be a translator—I edit the videos, make complicated concepts understandable with the help of images and transfer it towards a wide publicity. I'm not a science guy myself, so the challenge is to understand the science concepts first. Then, I can show it to a bigger, non-scientist audience."
It's a very important step that scientists and marketing people, designers and video editors are collaborating when it comes to scientific outreach because all of these expertises are needed to create catchy and digestible content and bring science closer to citizens. "The lab intro video with Ottó was probably the most difficult and took the longest time. The experiment table in the physicists' lab contains hundreds and thousands of tiny pieces and I had to get an overview myself before I was able to shot from the best angles and highlight the proper areas matching the explanation. After the filming, I still had a lot to do in collaboration with the science team regarding how to highlight the most interesting parts of the lab and explain complicated physics to a general audience."
Apart from science outreach, Toni is very active in different fields with his videos. His first obsession was advertising video and TV commercials. However, his attention these days is turning rather towards music videos. The switching of focus gives him a good position to observe the changing trends of online videos.
As the time passing, people are less and less interested in videos. Simply having a video is far from enough now for catching the attention. The attention span is decreasing at an alarming rate. "My personal rule is the 3-second rule. If you don't hook the viewer in 3 seconds, the viewer has already skipped your content." People are overwhelmed with social content and information. On social media, everyone has a timeline with never-ending posts. It's a huge challenge to stand out there and get the precious time of the users. In the early days of YouTube, around 2006, video content was more special in a sense that more people were watching the whole videos. Then, the competition has just blown up. A video is just one of the thousands and millions of content pieces on a wall that people only scrolling through. Today, the video statistics shows that the further you check on the timeline, the fewer people watched the video.
The rule now is: you either catch the attention or your content is going to get lost. On Instagram, many like-hunter pages using the most catchy cover image for a short video which has nothing to do with the actual content of the video. This is a misleading way to lure users into watching the post. However, misleading the audience is not the way to build up a basis of followers and a community around a brand. You can only win a few clicks and views this way. "A thumbnail should be like the cover of a book and refer to its content. In the early days of YouTube, the thumbnail was an automatically chosen, fixed frame. Today, thumbnail image is a custom choice."
The Instagram TV (IGTV) was introduced recently which might start a whole new era of video production. It is a vertical only video sharing platform which we haven't seen before. This is the first time ever when video producers are forced to post vertically and it can be up to 1 hour long. "Basically this is Instagram's version of YouTube. As everything else on Instagram, it only works vertically, you cannot watch it landscape which might transform the current format of the most popular videos. Up until this point, video makers hated when people filmed anything in vertical mode. Why don't you simply turn the phone?" It was mostly used for Snapchat and later for Instagram stories which both means only short, few-second videos. Now smartphone users are the vast majority of social media users and smartphones are very much encouraging the vertical format. "It is actually more convenient to watch videos in a standing position. I think this new improvement will have a huge impact on video making. Before, Instagram was a platform for images and short videos. With the IGTV, it has the potential to become a platform for longer, actually produced and edited videos like music clips and short films, in a revolutionary vertical format."
Though it might sound simple, a vertical video is a much bigger challenge than simply turning the camera for music video and movie makers. The whole backstage and setting need to be redesigned in order to use the given frame in the most optimal way. "There are some skeptic voices but I believe that this is a big deal since Instagram has surpassed 1 billion users already. It's a huge platform and still in growth. It might not be huge now but Instagram's audience is young and they are growing up with it. This is what they learn and get used to. Maybe some kids' first experience with videos is already a vertical one. It's not going to get to cinemas but in a few years from now, the vertical format has the potential to become the standard as the digital online video."
We are looking forward to working more with Toni, maybe also on some vertical videos for our recently started Instagram page!