Where To Begin? Part II

Last time I talked about how your audience will start viewing your edit. I brought up concerns about whether they’ll pay attention: How a movie theater experience is geared toward settling down an audience and getting them ready to watch, but how other large venues might require your help getting the audience’s attention.

Many of you might have just skipped reading when you realized I was talking about large-scale presentations. You might have thought my concerns didn’t apply if you create content for television.

Remember when everyone in film referred to television as the “small screen”?

There are still reasons to think about “where to begin” for television content. People get their television content from myriad sources. Many get it from streaming services. That might impact how you start your program. Depending on the application used to stream content, when a viewer selects the show they want to watch, they may be taken immediately to the first frame of the program or it might take a second or two for the streaming interface to disappear even though the audio has already begun playing.

If you placed some important information at the very front of your sequence (let’s say it’s a location or date), half of your audience might completely miss that information. Though you sweat the first shot of a film like an author works the first line in a novel, you should consider its impact (or lack of impact) when it isn’t seen. Will it be the best of times or the worst?

Recently, I streamed a BBC-produced series. I noticed that after the second year of the series, each episode started with a BBC logo animation that conveniently put enough space between the streaming interface going away and the first frame of video. Now I’m sure the reason the logo was there was because of “branding,” but it does serve another purpose—though maybe not “on purpose.” Because of the logo, I was finally able to see the beginning of each episode.

If you produce for the “smaller screen” like tablets and phones, there’s also the issue of how people begin watching. Do they select what they want to watch and then select full screen on their device? In that case, you still have that few seconds where the viewing experience is interrupted while the interface is reconfigured.

You might also have an issue with the controller interface—the play button, audio level adjustment and timeline display—that might hover over your content for a few seconds covering up any lower supers at the beginning, particularly when the cursor is left over the video frame.

I recognize this is really a minor point, but paying attention to the final presentation is the best way to care about what your audience experiences.