At this time of year, as sure a thing as the yearly winter flu virus that sweeps across the country is the fact that many a wise guy will peruse the tea leaves in his tea cup and boldly predict the hot trends that promise to shake the world of communication with film and video this year. And 2017 is no different.
Even though once these stupidities are propagated they seem to catch on, repeating them doesn’t make you any wiser. So as we welcome 2017, Videothink – unlike previous years – will refrain from making its own predictions. Instead of creating a list of trends in visual storytelling, we’ve decided to share with you what should be more aptly titled a wish list, we secretly hope our Good Fairy could grant us.
Communication before you communicate
The term storytelling has for a while now been towards murky and confusing territory. Definitions such as “Storytelling means communicating facts in a logical sequence of events” (Source: Self-promotion of a PR agency ) are only partly to blame, more than anything it’s the way we carelessly throw around these terms in the creative industries.
Visual storytelling can only be successful when all terms are understood in the same way by everyone participating in a project. Storytelling is and always will be an extremely powerful tool. In an ideal world “Communication before communication” (Rudi Hackl) would have to abide by the same precise rules as creation, production and distribution have to. That would be our first wish for 2017.
Moving Image Content for Mobile Devices
A close runner-up on our wish list for 2017 is for the image conflict that has been causing passionate and often heated discussions for years – among producers, cameramen and women and editors – to finally be resolved. At the core of said dispute lies the (not just merely theoretical) question if images made for cinema can transmit the same effect in the realm of the booming home entertainment trend (i.e. TV). To provide a valid argument we always fall back on the wide angle, long sequence shot. At the same time it was rightfully so brought to our attention that the rhythm and pace of the editing was perceived differently, depending on the size of the surface the images were projected onto.
A cinema screen (picture diagonal) in the nineties was 85%  larger than a standard, commercially available TV screen. However: The average difference between a flat screen TV today and the display of a smart phone is a whopping -90% 3! There is no doubt that image effectiveness depends on the platform we use to view our images on and is still a pertinent issue today – one that should be confronted and resolved.
Adobe Digital Video Benchmark Report
Has YouTube, aka the landfill site for cat videos, made us forget how to see? Or has it made us settle for less? In a time where videos show no sign of losing value and precise marketing and communication for businesses has become more indispensable than ever, our wish for 2017 is to bring about important discussions about visual effectiveness and the power of images.
Register, “make into film” or fictionalise
Real life can be “registered”, emotions and information can be transmitted by visualising goal-oriented messages (“made into film”) and instead of simply documenting, you can gear your film or video’s message towards emotions and perceptions (“fictionalising”).
All three above-mentioned methods for film production are valid. But only the truly clueless believe they can make it to the top of the Matterhorn unharmed, wearing a pair of sneakers. Sneakers, walking boots and crampons were each invented and are all readily available, because they each respond to a different need.
For 2017 we wish for there to be more people – from young filmmakers to commissioning clients – who finally recognise and understand the difference between these three methods of film production. Because competence to recognise incompetence has become an essential factor in successful communication with film and video.
Differentiate or die
Be it an image film, product film, Hollywood or a highbrow auteur film: For the New Year, we wish for all varieties of moving image communication to be filled with great adventures. We want to see things, we’ve never seen before; we want to dive into stories and worlds that have so far been inaccessible to us.
This can only be done with artists and talents, writers, directors, camera people and editors, composers and set designers who don’t copy others’ recipes for success, but instead create new things. Innovate don’t imitate is the motto here. Or as the writers Jack Trout and Steve Rivkin put it – without beating around the bush – in the title of their bestseller: Differentiate or die!
A hard nut to crack: 360 Degree Videos
The idea of creating a truly immersive experience for the viewer has long been around. Disney and Iwerks started to develop huge analogical 360-degree cameras in the sixties.. They produced spectacular 360-degree films for theme parks. Something that for decades was only achievable in professional quality with 650 kg monstrosities (that were each made up of 9 35mm cameras) today in 2017 and ten years after the iPhone was invented, can be done with a smart phone.
In short: The production needs for 360-degree films have shrunk by an almost unimaginable degree. But instead of making good use of the experience value the Circlevision (the name given to Disney’s million dollar 360-films) created and that has been around for decades, publishing houses and run of the mill production companies pointlessly keep trying to reinvent the 360-format. Unfortunately to the detriment of 360 degree films.
It would be amazing if 2017 is the year where the moving image industry stops ignoring the decades of valuable experience when it comes to 36o-videos.
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR): Hot as hell
The director James Cameron (Titanic, Avatar) in 2015 already hinted to the fact that Virtual Reality (VR) isn’t as groundbreakingly new to entertainment as most believe it to be:
There seems to be a lot of excitement around something that, to me, is a yawn, frankly. If you want to move through a virtual reality it’s called a video game, it’s been around forever. James Cameron
If Virtual Reality dutifully does its technical homework – it still has a way to go – new doors will open in the realm of perception psychology in marketing and communications..
For 2017 we hope for VR to fulfil its glittering promises and to prove that all that shimmers really could be gold. And for more, smart hybrid forms like Pokémon Go to appear in the field of Augmented Reality (AR).
Chewing Gum for the Eyes
I’m sure you’re familiar with this. You search online for information and happen upon a video that promises to provide you with all the answer you were looking for. A simple click and you’re on your way: First of course you patiently wait for the adverts to end. Then comes a strong promise in the intro of the video, followed by a bombardment of visual rubbish. For it to look professional, it’s always presented in a pretty way with subtitles, graphics and the replaceable soundscape that reminds you of the breakfast buffet in an American business hotel – a place you would only step foot in if you were held at gunpoint. A clear and concise index? Dream on! An easy way to navigate the information? No chance! A summary of the most important findings? All wishful thinking!
Because there is no way of discerning how relevant the content will be before pressing play and you’ve invested more of your precious time than you ever intended to, you swiftly move on. To the delight of the website owner: This visual chewing gum can make you watch a video online for much longer than you probably consciously would be willing to do, which in turn optimises the search engine ranking for the website in question. Garnished with ads and rounded off with a few nifty tricks to minimise bounce rates, website operators secretly make a killing.
The demise of these videos was high on our wish list last year too. And we haven’t given up hope for 2017. Misleading audiovisual packaging puts users off the moving image. That simply cannot happen. The potential of possibilities in communication with film and video is far from being exhausted! Neither qualitatively, nor quantitatively.
 URL available upon request at email@example.com
 Internet Research, T3N, Wikipedia
 Internet Research, T3N, Wikipedia
 Differentiate or die, by Jack Trout and Steve Rivkin, John Wiley & Sons Edition, 2001
 see more at the end of Videothink’s series of articles 360 Degree Video
 see more: Strategic stocktaking as of July 2016