Video Storytelling Without Hidden Meaning

hands on keyboard

Basic shots can enhance your video storytelling.

I put a lot of thought into my video storytelling. There’s typically a reason for each shot, but that doesn’t mean there’s hidden meaning behind them.

I recently received some feedback from a client that made me kind of giggle. Actually, they received the feedback and then passed it along to me. It had to do with a shot of hands. Yes, hands.

As any video pro knows, it’s important to shoot sequences. If you shoot video of someone working at a computer, nine out of ten video pros will come back with the same variety of shots…

  • wide shot of the room with the person sitting at the computer
  • medium shot of the person at their desk working at the computer
  • tight shot of the person’s face
  • tight shot of the person’s… wait for it… hands on the keyboard

Foundation for good video storytelling

Now, there might be a few more shots in there… how each individual video pro shoots them will certainly vary… but just about everyone will come back with those shots. Why? Because you can build a visually appealing sequence.

It’s important to have a variety to choose from… wide, medium and tight. Cutting between them stimulates the eye, and just makes for good video. That’s the reason we shoot that way.

The meaning behind hands

So… on to that feedback. Our client asked a friend to critique his video, and the one thing they came back with was… he didn’t like the shot of the hands typing on the keyboard. He didn’t understand the meaning behind the shot.

I get it. A friend of yours asks you to critique his new video. You look at it, like it, but you feel like you have to give him some feedback. You pick out something and try to make an educated comment.

In a way, he’s not too far off base. There are plenty of times I include shots with hidden meaning. Metaphors built in to the way something is shot. Hands on a keyboard… not one of them.

I explained to the client the idea behind shooting a solid sequence. His reaction… you’re the pro. We didn’t change a thing.

I love video storytelling. I love when a videographer stretches their creativity, but sometimes… hands on a keyboard are just hands on a keyboard.

–Tony Gnau

Tony Gnau is a three-time Emmy-winning journalist. He is also the founder and chief storytelling officer at T60 Productions. T60 has won 11 Telly Awards for its work over the last eight years.