Answering the Video Length Question

There is no perfect template for the length of a video.

Guest Authors Nick Libbey and Chris Libbey 3.08.2016

Hey Sparky, what’s up? How long should our video be?

Hey Blog Introduction, I’m ok! Please, stop asking that question.

Videos, like toilet paper, come in all shapes and sizes. Actually they really just come in rectangles but their length varies greatly. And as anyone who’s been stuck in a bathroom with an empty TP core will tell you—length can make a huge difference.

What others say

Increasing popularity of video content and changing tastes of its audience have led many to fret over the blueprint for a perfect video. With a little bit of help from Google you can find plenty of experts eager to put you at ease with an exact recipe for success.

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What we think

The harsh truth is that there is no ideal length for a video. In fact, the very act of limiting yourself to a predetermined length will make your video worse. There will be a time to decide how long your video can be, but make that decision after you’ve determined what you want to say and how you want to say it.

Put the story first

Watch these videos by the Dollar Shave Club and Miller High Life.

These ads challenge our standards of video length. Instead of obeying the “ideal value” from a chart, they focused on the story, and the length became a part of it. And while these are extremes, they are great examples of putting story first.

So take some time and wrestle with your message. What does it need to say? What is better said elsewhere (the website, in-person, etc.)? How do we express that message? Do we even have to say any of that or can we find a way to show it with action?

Once you truly know your story and how to best express it, then the question of video length should answer itself. All that’s left to do is, well, make the video.

If I had more time, I would have [edited] a shorter [video].

There are a lot of videos out there that are too long. Way, way too long. It’s true that length is often a symptom of being irresolute and lazy, but don’t let that ruin long for you.

Video creators succeed because they devise a clear, well thought-out message (content) and then craft the perfect package (form) to deliver it. Perhaps successful videos are typically shorter, but maybe that’s because people realized they don’t have so many important things to say and they had the restraint to say no more.

Change the question

The point is, don’t ask how long your video should be. Ask what the video is about and how to best say it. Don’t make it short just to make it short. Make it short because that’s all you need to say. Need to say more? Then say more and make some room for that. Just be thoughtful.

Sparky Stories is a video production company dedicated to engaging, thoughtful, and authentic storytelling. Contact them at nick@sparkystories.com.

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