Make a Great Holiday Video With These Tips

The holidays are joyous, merry, and cheerful, but they can also be quite overwhelming. Between the inundation of repetitive jingles, aggressively urgent sales, and the pressure to be the perfect host, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the whirlwind and wake up in 2017 wondering what the hell just happened.

When it comes to video, it’s even harder to stand out. When you have big brands like Sainsbury’s, Burberry, and H&M releasing showstopper holiday videos, how are you ever going to get anyone to watch yours?

Here’s our guide to making a holiday video that will set you apart from the crowds, and help you reach your target audience.

Emotional Hooks

Ideally, the holidays are about spending time with loved ones, and reflecting on the trials and tribulations of the past year. Often, that can be a happy and positive experience. Sometimes, however, if someone has faced a particularly tough time, or lost a family member or friend, it might not feel quite so great.

Either way, the holidays have a way of bringing these feelings to the surface. Using video, you can address the emotions viewers are going through, helping to forge a genuine connection with them. If successful, you’ll greatly increase the chances viewers will share your video.

For example, Wes Anderson knocks this out of the park with his short film, “Come Together,” for H&M. If you didn’t notice the fashionably dressed people posing in the train, you would hardly know it’s an ad.

Beautifully made, it evokes the sentiment that not everything will go to plan, and that’s ok. By making the best of what you have, you can still find happiness during the holidays, even if you’re unexpectedly stuck on a train.

How You Can Use It

Ok, you don’t have a super-star director or Hollywood stars at your disposal. That doesn’t mean you can’t emotionally engage with your viewers!

Sometimes, a simple “Thank You” goes a long way. Your audience might not realize what they mean to you, or what they’ve helped you achieve by supporting you. Expressing these sentiments in a video is a great way to let them know. Bonus points if you personalize the video for them!

Certain filming techniques are ideal for heightening the emotional impact of a video, too. For instance, notice how the camera zooms in on the little boy on the train, just as he discovers the cheery scene on the train? A close-up shot helps viewers connect with the subject, creating that all-important emotional trigger.

A longer shot can also help hammer home the importance of a scene for a viewer. A lot of this has to do with the overall pacing of your video. Easily manipulated during the editing process, use a mixture of lengths of clips to indicate to your audience when a key event is unfolding, and when it’s ok to tear up or laugh.

Don’t forget the music! You can easily find the right tunes to suit the mood of your video online. For free sources of music, check out our recent post on the best free resources for videographers.

Humor

If the stress of the holidays is getting you down, a hilarious pick-me-up might just be what the doctor ordered. Spreading joy and good cheer is what the holidays are all about, and this is just one small way you can do your part.

One of the funniest and most popular examples of all time comes from Sainsbury’s, a major retailer in the UK. “Mog’s Christmas Calamity” features a lovable kitty that gets up to all sorts of hijinks while its owners are asleep.

The hapless little cat manages to deliver all sorts of laughs, and in a highly relatable way. After all, nearly anyone who has ever cooked a holiday dinner has worried about burning it! And, pet owners in particular are all too familiar with the many ways in which a beloved animal can inadvertently ruin special moments.

How You Can Use It

Humor can be tricky. What is funny to you might fall flat for others, or even be offensive. The key is to keep it relatable, as Sainsbury’s holiday video demonstrated above.

Think about your target viewer persona. What do they struggle with? What are their primary concerns going into the holiday season? Where do they hang out online, and what else might be funny to them?

After a little bit of research and brainstorming, you’ll be able to come up with a sidesplitting script for your holiday video.

Drama

A personal favorite, and another “blockbuster” style festive film comes from Burberry. Directed by Academy Award-winner Asif Kapadia, and featuring an all-star cast, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a brand film quite as captivating or thrilling as this one.

Although it isn’t totally holiday-themed, the sense of drama throughout the short film makes you want to cuddle up on the couch with a tub of popcorn and a cozy blanket. It brings to mind the sort of stormy night where you just want to put on your comfy pants and stay in with a good flick. There’s just enough snow and cold weather throughout to evoke a wintery time of year.

How You Can Use It

The holidays are rife with potential sources of drama. All you have to do is tap into them.

For instance, a forgotten gift, a rift between family members, or a drunken mistake at the company holiday party, could all make for highly dramatic plot lines.

To generate a sense of drama, select the music for your video carefully. A song that slowly increases in tempo, until reaching a cascading crescendo, would be ideal.

Try to shoot live action if possible. As both “Come Together” and “The Tale of Thomas Burberry” make clear, the human element creates a level of tension and suspense that’s hard to achieve otherwise in a holiday video. You don’t necessarily need professional actors or actresses. You can usually find a surprising amount of talent amongst friends, coworkers, or family members.

If you’re feeling like you can’t quite get all the shots you need, you can always turn to stock footage, or use a green screen. By cutting a few corners where you can, you’ll be able to achieve a professional, heavy-hitting result in time for the holidays.


If you create a holiday video, we’d love to see it! Let us know how it goes in the comments below.

Written by Courtney Purchon

Courtney is the Head of Marketing at SproutVideo. Follow her on Twitter.

Posted November 30, 2016

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