How Long Should a Video Be?

Your Video Should Be As Long As It Should Be In the Shortest Amount of Time

One of the best things about streaming episodic narratives is they’re not confined to 48 minutes as are network programs. A particular episode can run 36 minutes and the subsequent episode could be 62 minutes. The producers are telling the best possible story they can in the shortest amount of time without padding or leaving elements out.

The same can be said about videos. What is the best way to tell the story in a compact amount of time?

Here are two examples, both high-end recognizable brands:

Example 1
Men’s Fashion

It was a two-camera shoot of a roundtable discussion with five subjects. The client said they wanted the video to be 2:30 long. After my second pass the video came in at 5:36. I looked at it many times, and believed to cut any more footage out would be to lose the story. I relayed this to the client. After viewing the video, they agreed. My only revision was to change the wording on a card.

Example 2
A Large International Bank

BigWork produced a two camera shoot with multiple subjects. The final edit came in at 7:10. I’d watched the video dozens of times and thought the flow was terrific, the story was clear and I was never bored. I sent it to the client for review. The next day I received word that I was to cut one minute out. Make it 6:00. Where I thought and why would I make the cuts? I was worried that something valuable would be lost if we did another pass. I wrote back that I thought the length was solid and would happily make the edits, but you will have to give me clear in and out points. The next day word came to leave the video as is. The length is fine.

Don’t Lose the Story

Striving to make a video shorter is always a goal, but not at the expense of losing the story. If you lose the story, then you’re not servicing the client or doing your job. If a video tells the story in the right amount of time and with the proper content, the audience will not be bored. The story the client wants to be told dictates the length.

Tim Gannon
July 7th, 2022