Stop! Make sure you’ve watched this 60 second video clip before you read further. It serves as the context of this entry…..
Recently I shot about 3 hours of footage of Pensacola Beach to create a demo video. I used the video to illustrate the concept of storytelling and design to persuade a desired outcome. The participants were only told the video was going to be a demo video for the studio.
That’s where the design came into play. It was indeed a demo, but for me, it was to illustrate the studio’s designing a video based on the way perception plays a powerful part in our reality. It illustrated design is actually the psychology of how things connect together; how things work. The same video based on it was presented along with how the story was designed on the basis of how it would be perceived by the audience.
Yes, I did want to express Pensacola’s calming influence for me, with its beautiful views of the Gulf of Mexico. That part of the video served to fill about 10% of it, but 90% was purely on designing the outcome. I wanted to collect information about the city based on a natural thought provoking emotional response, in the moment, from the viewer.
(You can gain more insight on this process by Googling “Affordance” and “Design” together. The search results will provide for some interesting reading for those that like to read, I’m sure.)
The video was based on the “Affordance Theory” of design. I understood when I asked for feedback, how I asked it, would be perceived a natural way you’d normally think it to mean—which is significantly different from what I actually meant. To collect accurate and natural information I simply said, “I made this 60 second demo video of Pensacola…tell me what you think.”
Let’s face it, no two people will look at the same piece of art, music, TV show, etc. and come to the same conclusion. An artist creates content to illicit a certain tone or emotion. So the last thing I meant by feedback was, “my video is amazing, isn’t it?”
The design begins with a 60 second runtime. Why 60 seconds? The short runtime was intended to A) hold the focus for a full minute (which is nearly impossible these days, and why advertising and surveys produce less than stellar response rates). B) elicit criticisms (not in a bad way) from an intended audience C) obtain more insight of likes/dislikes (if any) based on what wasn’t included.
The video wasn’t intended to see how the video actually “looked”, but was visually designed to produce an inspired, honest, and emotional feedback while viewed. The feedback could have been “boy, was that awful!” and it would have served as valuable data and because it was short it led to the audience to focus on so many things that were left out.
If you watch it again, notice it really was a fast 60 seconds. The story seemed to be over before it really began. The slow motion scenes actually added to the fact it went by fast.
There really was no way to tell Pensacola’s deep tradition in 60 seconds. Downtown, itself, is very historic. The city also has many festivals, superb restaurants, and also major events like the Blue Angels show, and so forth.
The most common source of the feedback came from local people I knew; some of whom I’ve known for a while and a few I’d recently met. For the most part it conjured different memories and takes on how it made them feel. Almost all had a “while watching it” natural comment in different scenes.
It was fascinating to see reactions as they absorbed it and the emotional responses it brought out, and each differing from the other. Some reactions were quite surprising while some more predictable. But all served as valuable insights I’d never gain without the raw reaction during and/or after the viewing.
The most common feedback was I should have included scenes from ____ event or ____ place, which is the exact response I was asking for when I asked, “What did you think?” The thoughts of things I’d left out that would have represented more of the city authentically poured out at a 100% rate.
One person had such a unique take, I’d never would have thought of it. It conjured a childhood memory because of the old film feel. I thought that moment was very cool, personally. Not being from here originally, I didn’t even know this particular fact.
The best TV shows, movies, or any form of entertainment leave you wanting more. You don’t want it to be over because it grabbed your attention and moved your emotions up and down and then….tune in next week for more of the story.
So I gained valuable and authentic information I’d never would have been able to receive in a poll, survey, or simply asking for it. I learned a lot from watching and observing the user (viewer) experiencing the video. I even learned more about the people I thought I knew pretty well.
Design is not about graphics or how something looks but the psychological essence of it. As Steve Jobs would describe it, as he often did, he’d just simplified it, “Design is not what it looks and feels like. Design is how it works.”