January 8, 2016

The Emotional Power of Video

Back in September 2015 I had the pleasure of recording a number of videos for Dr Anh Nguyen, a plastic surgeon based in Perth. For the most part, the shoot was standard enough — interview footage, b-roll practice coverage, the usual. I had mostly been excited about the shoot from a technical standpoint; as we were using new equipment and lenses I was eager to see what we could produce with them.

But then in the last half hour, my interests changed, drastically. As we were interviewing Dr Anh herself and discussing the various treatments and procedures she offered, we got to one that was clearly very dear to her: The Mona Lisa Touch, which amongst other things, helps to alleviate sexual dysfunctions in women.

Listening to her talk almost brought a tear to my eye. Not because what she was talking about spoke to me personally, but because there was a deeply felt passion and carefully restrained frustration beneath what she was saying that resonated on a much more basic, human level.

No transcript of that video could possibly do it justice because she’s not just using words to communicate here; her tone and expression play an absolutely essential part of getting the real meaning of this message across. That’s not to say the written content can’t hold as much emotion — thousands of years of literary history would soundly refute that — but it’s typically the domain of the very skilled author who knows exactly how to craft their thoughts into words to achieve the greatest impact. It’s something that can take years to develop.

True, heartfelt emotion, on the other hand, is something we all possess regardless of our ability to turn it into written words, and video gives each and every one of us a means of expressing that. It allows us to communicate our passions, frustrations, joys and apprehensions through the subtleties and complexities of facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, or even in the silent pauses between words where we look inside for what to say next.

Where words might let our message down, actions will pick us up and carry us, and the only medium to mass-communicate with action is film and video.