Simplicity Takes Complex Planning

Malia Campbell - September 27, 2013

Last week’s Almuerzo Creativo was about simplicity. Ryan Shelley shared a few videos with us that have really influenced his work, and we were quite inspired, too. Take a look below:

o2 – Think Big

Microsoft Internet Explorer – Child of the ’90s

These videos are powerful because they don’t try to complicate things. The messages aren’t camouflaged with big words, and you aren’t overwhelmed with flash and glamour. The simple, stylized objects in front of the backdrops and the down-to-earth language tie together seamlessly.

Simplicity Makes Your Message Sink In

These videos look great. But no matter how good a video looks, it won’t be successful if the message isn’t carefully developed. The scripts for these videos are clever, short, and to the point—but getting a script to read so effortlessly is not easy. Making something sound simple can actually be quite difficult.

The longer your script is, and the more information you try to pack into it, the harder your audience will have to work to understand the important pieces.

Remember that awful night in high school when you pulled an all-nighter to memorize all of those court cases for your Civics class? Do you still remember who won the Gideon vs. Wainwright case? Or what year it took place? Or what it was about? Can you list the other 20 cases, dates, and their impact? Your audience will have just as much trouble remembering (and figuring out) what is important if you try to feed them 20-court cases’-worth of information in your video.

Getting your message to sink in—and making it memorable—means you need to keep it short and sweet. Say only what is important and cut the fluff.

Simplicity Stirs Emotions

The Internet Explorer video hits the target audience right in the gut. As a Gen-Y’er myself, I can honestly say that Pogs, slap bracelets, light-up sneakers, and Super Soakers were the backbone of our childhood. That stuff resonates with us. It makes us feel like Internet Explorer understands who we are and what matters to us. But the creative firm didn’t just show these items; they crafted strong metaphors with the products, which stirs our emotions and connects us to their message and product.

Further, there are no buzzwords in these videos. People don’t have emotional ties to buzzwords, because often, they don’t mean anything. In my experience, I’ve learned it’s best not to use empty words, unless your target audience is a room full of robots.

Simplicity Takes Complex Planning

These videos put straightforward objects and people in front of backdrops. Sounds easy, right? Even though these videos look simple to create, tons of time, planning and thought went into each shot. If you don’t execute it correctly, this simplistic approach runs the risk of looking bland. However, these videos are composed and shot extremely well.

Even though the scenes in the Internet Explorer video were probably not complicated to set up, their shots were meticulously planned ahead of time for the edit. Each shot—its focal length, movement, angle, its ability to act as a transition—has a purpose. If the production team didn’t plan these things out, their video would look haphazard. I am not an editor, nor am I a DP, so I’m not going to try and get too technical. But I will say that the guys who made this video knew what they were doing. They make simple look easy, which is a hard thing to do.

Ryan explained how it took him at least two weeks of uninterrupted time in a studio to create a video similar to the Think Big video. This style takes a lot of trial and error. Finding the best, most creative solution takes time and experimentation. But, hey! That’s the fun part. Take a look below to see how the Think Big video came together. Their craftiness and prop design blew me away.

Simplicity Looks Good

You’ll also notice that the graphics and animation in the Internet Explorer video compliment the piece with a design style that is very clean and light. They add texture and personality to the video without distracting you from the content. You don’t feel overwhelmed after watching the video—you feel uplifted and refreshed.

We hope that these videos inspire you as much as they have inspired us. Even if you’re not creating a video like this one, always keep in mind that less is more. Use language and stories that are emotional. Keep your message and your content concise, so your audience remembers what is most important. Also, remember that simplicity takes time. Give your team the time they need to develop the right story and the right approach. Give them time to focus on doing it right. It will absolutely be worth it.