Saying that online video is popular is a gross understatement. With 6+ billion hours of viewing YouTube per month and an average of 40 minutes of viewing per session per person, YouTube is the undisputed king of online video. All forms of video production; documentaries, news, promotional videos, educational videos, and entertainment video are evolving.
As the average attention span continues to shorten thanks to bite-size media appropriate for Meta (Facebook), Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and Reddit, how videos are being produced is developing to keep pace with consumer viewing behavior.
Why Video Works So Well
Complex ideas work extremely well with online video – would TED’s “ideas worth spreading” educational videos be such a success if the same content were merely published in a magazine article? Of course not, there is already great content being published in print, but it rarely gets shared or goes as ‘viral’ as much as some TED videos have. The video medium has a real ability to ‘hook’ viewers and engage emotionally. A video producer’s task as a storyteller is to communicate ideas – and the value of the ideas – in an easily digestible, efficient manner that makes an impact.
There are five main classes of video; they range from entertainment, to delivering learning to grow competence in a subject, to delivering compelling reasons to assist a person to take action. Professional organizations, learning institutions, entrepreneurs, and businesses of all sizes are adapting how they use video they create. It wasn’t long ago that video that was online was merely low-resolution entertainment or news clips. But as video is the best idea-conveying medium, its popularity continues to grow proportionally to its easy accessibility and high quality.
The 5 Types of Video Production
Video doesn’t simply tell a message; instead, video displays the meaning – video is the ultimate show and tell. The successful video cuts through technology, all the while conveying messages as a form of entertainment, around the world, twenty-four hours around the clock. Here are the top five types of videos, along with explanations and examples:
1. Educational Videos
Educational videos are excellent examples of teaching and learning concepts. As video uses the primary senses of sight and sound, using video in education allows concepts to be taught more easily and be retained better than reading off a page! This is thanks to the models of ‘multi-modal learning’ and ‘dual-coding theory', which have shown that communicating with visuals and sound simultaneously will greatly increase comprehension and retention of new ideas.
Educational videos go beyond merely informing the viewer – these videos go deeper into the ‘why’ such and such is important, in addition to just the ‘what’. As an example, an educational video on learning how to SCUBA dive will explain the reason why you must not hold your breath as you ascend to the surface, rather than just stating ‘don’t hold you breath’ without explanation. This ‘why’ is critical, as it delivers real understanding for the audience. The beauty of educational videos is how they can easily share complex ideas – and ‘educate’ learners properly, with comprehension even often able to bypass language barriers.
Examples of Educational Videos
- Remote Online Classroom Instruction
- Online Courses with Video Lessons (MooC)
- How-To Training Videos
- Student ‘Show and Tell’ Videos
- Webinar Informational Videos
- Video Lesson Series
- Animated Explainer Videos
2. Promotional Videos
Promotional videos have become exceptionally popular with the convenience of fast wireless Internet, powerful mobile devices, and businesses realizing that they can afford and use video with their marketing. These styles of videos have adapted quickly to the habits of the modern viewer; short-length videos, relevant information, engaging style, and available where the viewer will be interested in viewing, and then ideally sharing the video with their social networks!
A critical distinction is that promotional videos are not advertisements like we would see on TV commercial breaks. With a promotional video, the choice to watch is with the viewer. The person is interested to see if the video will offer a solution to their problem and presses play. The promotional videos marketing therefore to suggest value upfront. And if it doesn’t, the viewer can choose to stop viewing at any time, unlike TV or online video ads, which intrusively play without the viewer having control.
Promotional video differs from instructional and educational videos in that they’re targeting a very specific viewer and speaking to their needs, then presenting a solution and concluding with a ‘call to action’, asking the viewer to take action. With the art of persuasion and rapport, similar to an experienced salesperson, a viewer will ideally feel that the video offered value – and it’s their choice if they respond to the call to action. Taking action: a social like or share, or a purchase, are all common goals for promotional video marketers.
Examples of Promotional Videos:
- Talking-head Videos
- Corporate Videos
- Testimonial Videos
- Presentation Videos
- Explainer Videos
- Human Resources Videos
- Unboxing Videos
- Product Demonstration Videos
- Real Estate Tour Videos
- Event Videos
- Presentation Videos
- Keynote Slideshow Presentation Videos
- Advertising Videos
- Comparison Videos
- Giveaway Videos
- Product Review Videos
- Announcement Videos
- Destination Videos
3. Informational Videos
These are the most simplistic types of videos – cut and dry information delivered as succinctly as possible. Think of a news host delivering current news, with a quick story sound bite and moving on to the next story in rapid succession. These videos give the ‘what’ on a topic' but don’t go much deeper, so the ‘why’ is often left largely unexplored (as good educational or promotional video would show).
Journalism is a good example of purely informational video. News and information videos give you the sounds and sights of the news events as if you were right there on location. No need to imagine what might be going on… You can see it and hear it for yourself. With all smartphones having an HD or 4K camera with video capabilities, newsgathering is now in the hands of common people. Instead of a Television station with a producer and camera operator and interviewer, a single person can record and upload or stream live-video from most anywhere, anytime.
Examples of Informational Videos:
- Television Newscasts
- Interview Question & Answer Videos
- Streaming Video Online News Websites
- Socially-Shared News Snippets (Facebook, Twitter, etc)
- Public Service Announcments (PSAs)
4. Documentary Films (and Videos)
The definition of a documentary film is “nonfictional motion picture intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction, education, or maintaining a historical record.” (Wikipedia). Bear in mind, most documentaries are mostly shot digitally now, rather than on celluloid film, but the word “film” is a throwback to the genre, not the medium, which is fine.
Documentaries are typically a mix of entertainment and information dispensing, and very popular. There are three main types of documentaries; observational (or Cinéma vérité) mainly without any narration moving the process forward, participatory, such as famous director ‘Michael Moore’ as a character taking part in the events as we watch, and expository, with the narrator chiefly explaining and the events as we watch. There are more genres of documentaries are well, please see this site: alexburtonjournal.blogspot.ca
Examples of Documentary Genres:
- Poetic documentaries
- Observational documentaries
- Reflexive documentaries
- Performative documentaries
- Expository documentaries
- Participatory documentaries
5. Entertainment Videos
Finally, the fun stuff, entertaining videos simply for entertainment’s sake. The sky is the limit here, and many of the prior examples of video can fall under entertainment as well, so it’s not a hard and fast category. Entertaining videos can vary in scope, genre and purpose. Videos on Netflix, online movies, YouTube video stars, video clips, and more all fall under the scope of entertainment.
Examples of Entertainment Videos:
- Music Videos
- Instagram Reels
- Travel Videos
- Automotive Enthusiast Videos
- Wedding Videos
- Comedy Shows
- YouTube Channel Stars
- Reality Shows
- Movies (Hollywood, etc)
- Episodic-Drama Shows
- YouTube and YouTube Shorts
- Streaming Services (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc)
- Solid Media (DVD and Blu-Ray)
Similarities and Differences of Video Types
There are so many varieties of videos and so much crossover and overlap that the combinations and lists could seemingly go on forever. The lists above help outline the main genres of video. Next, onto differences and similarities between the key genres. First, the differences…
The Differences Between Video Genres
Most video types aside from Entertainment videos, if not all videos, have a bias and a goal to persuade and motivate action on part of the viewer. Promotional videos require a call to action, where the video will clearly state the next step the viewer must take to achieve the result that is being proposed.
While each video style has a degree of partiality on the featured issue, it’s specifically the promotional video that follows a specific formula to persuade the viewer to take action at the end. The entire purpose of the promotional video is to persuade a change in opinion or behavior on part of the viewer, whereas informational and educational videos are more passive.
Commonalities between Different Videos Types
All of the video types share the goal of sharing a story or knowledge with the audience, so in this regard, they’re all the most basic type of video: informational. All videos have a target audience in mind, whether it is narrowed down to age, language, gender or political opinion, an audience was chosen when planning the scope out with the creative brief took place. Entertainment is also a factor, at some level – if a video is not engaging, the viewer will simply not ‘hear’ the message, rendering the video useless. Videos simply can’t be boring anymore due to short attention spans.
Lastly, always remember, each and every video has a bias – even the most seemingly impartial documentary has made specific choices on what video clips to keep, and which ones to edit out, shaping the message the end viewer receives.