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Executive Decisions: Craving AV
By Russ Jolly - published March 2006

Next time you walk down the coffee aisle of your local grocery store, don't be surprised if a television commercial suddenly begins playing from a tiny video monitor attached to the store shelf. A new "Point of Purchase" advertising technology is in its initial testing phase in several regional markets. The wireless video device is triggered by an infrared sensor as shoppers walk by and offers a ten-second commercial from its small, 3.5" screen.

A word of caution, however; the product commercials emanating from these miniature monitors may distract you from the program playing on your video iPod. You may have to pause the replay of the Rose Bowl game you're watching (or the recent episode of Lost or your favorite music video) while you're checking out the store-shelf commercial. Of course, if you're wearing the latest in video eyewear, a hands-free personal media viewer that projects a "virtual screen" in front of you, it may be possible to keep one eye on your iPod video and train the other eye on the store shelf display. But if your mobile video phone rings during this double viewing, you're out of luck.

Video is everywhere these days. Small, medium, large, and jumbotron monitors call out to us in new ways on a daily basis. From the backs of airline seats to entire sides of buildings. From automobile in-dash displays to wireless, portable devices. From streaming video to HDTV home entertainment systems. In elevators, at the post office, on laptops, on gaming devices—if they build it, we will watch.

What drives this innovation? Effectiveness. Humans love the combination of audio and visual. We crave AV.

This is not a recent phenomenon. People have always realized that a story is best communicated with sound and motion. I can imagine the first time a caveman stood up from around the campfire and began physically acting out the kill. By adding movement to his grunts, he told a more vivid story and created a more effective way to relate the drama and excitement of his tale than he possibly could have done solely through the verbal communication of his era.

Ritual, pageant, theater, and dance were born out of the same effectiveness of telling a story through the combination of the aural and the visual. And the technological advances in motion picture and video communication over the last hundred years have simply expanded this effectiveness to a wider audience of A/V-craving humans and allowed presentations to be replayed over and over again.

Consider this: Studies have revealed that people remember only 20% of what they hear and only 30% of what they see. But they remember as much as 70% of what they hear and see together. If the written word was the most complete and effective form of communication, then technology would have stopped with the invention of the printing press. If still imaging was the most effective way to communicate, then photography would have stopped with the invention of the Daguerreotype. Likewise, broadcast would have stopped with the radio. Telephony would have stopped with the landline. The Internet would have forever remained text-based.

Instead, all these elements have been blended into the A/V-drenched world we live in today, and technological advances will continue to bring more and more audio/visual communication into our daily lives.

So what does this mean for producers of corporate video? Opportunity. Businesses desire the most effective means of communication to tell their story whether that means selling a product or training their workforce. With an increasing number of video outlets for reaching their target audience, businesses will continue to take advantage of the effectiveness of audio-visual communication in any and every new way that becomes available.

Business use of streaming video has increased dramatically over the last few years and will certainly continue in that direction for years to come. Just as broadcast television grew from a few local stations 50 years ago to thousands of satellite stations today, I believe that the Internet will grow to become a vast repository of on-demand video communication and there will be a limitless number of "stations" carrying rich A/V content. Portable, wireless devices such as phones and PDAs are the next generation of video playback and offer additional channels for reaching audiences anywhere they roam.

With so many outlets, I'm banking on a continued corporate demand for creative content providers. Businesses will continue to need storytellers who have the imagination and ability to take a subject and transform it into a compelling form of electronic audio-visual communication. As a video producer, my attitude is decidedly bullish.

The vast majority of videos we currently produce for our corporate clients are delivered as streaming video files for Web playback. This deliverable is most often in conjunction with other formats such as DVD or CD as clients are seeking multiple ways of sharing their message. We also have recently started to recommend the option of encoding their presentations for small, portable devices like iPods and videophones.

The current and future benefits for our clients are considerable. A businessperson can have her marketing message at the ready on her video cell phone. Soon, an employee in the field who needs technical assistance on an equipment repair will be able to log into the company intranet via a wireless device and download a training video that offers step-by-step instruction on fixing the machine. And maybe someday soon you'll see a ten-second commercial created in our studio jumping out at you from the grocery store shelf.

Russ Jolly is owner of 214 Media: a video production company in Dallas, TX.

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