• Dr Alex Baker

Longform vs shortform video: telling the story of a space launch

Video content is the new king of social media. With every social media platform promoting videos and encouraging their users to get creative, every company should consider using video in their marketing strategy.


But putting out video content isn’t just about shooting some cool footage of your product and sticking it on Facebook. Marketing is results-driven and is most successful when creative decisions are made with the end goal in mind. When it comes to video, that means your content, shot list, editing style and platforms should all be chosen based on what’s going to engage your target audience.


This remains true no matter how cool your content or what your product actually is. One company that understands this really well is Unilite, a UK-based manufacturer of premium portable work lights and illumination equipment.


Launching the Unilite SP-4500 into space


Unilite wanted to showcase the incredible performance of their SP-4500 work light in the most extreme environments. Well known for their quality demonstrations like running the SP-4500 over with a steamroller and shooting it with a shotgun, they asked us to send it into one of the most extreme environments possible: space.


We presented the light on a custom-built mounting rig and filmed the flight in stunning 360° 5.2K video documenting the design and launch process on video. Above the Earth, the thin atmosphere no longer filters and diffuses the sun’s shining rays, making it more than 60% brighter than any light we experience at ground level.


Nonetheless, the hardy SP-4500 was still blazingly bright, proving beyond doubt how powerful a work tool it is. Meanwhile, the rugged insulation and long battery life kept the light burning at full power throughout the three-and-a-half hour flight time with plenty of energy to spare once it returned.


Following the launch, we worked with Unilite to produce two videos, one a short, snappy piece and the other a lengthier look behind the scenes of the launch process. In this article, we’ll be comparing how the two tell the story of a launch differently and reflecting on the roll that both forms of video content play in a social strategy.


Using shortform video content in your marketing


Let's take a look at the shorter of the two videos we produced with Unilite and how we've implemented marketing strategy into the editing process.


1. Use swift edits


Short videos grab attention for your brand. With little time to fill and less to get people interested, it’s important to convey the key messaging right up front. Fast cuts and visual effects help the video feel pacy, so you avoid leaving the viewer feeling underwhelmed. Cramming in visual content also encourages rewatching to get the full impact.


2. Minimise dialogue and caption key messages


Short videos have become commonplace on platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook which are most often used on mobile devices. It’s unlikely these audiences will be watching with sound, so subtitles are commonplace. In our video for Unilite, we’ve eliminated any dialogue, relying on the visuals to get across the message, but married the footage to an energetic backing track so that viewers watching with the sound on are met by an auditory experience to match the visual excitement.


3. Match your platform's aspect ratio


With this video going on Facebook and Youtube, we’ve used a 16:9 aspect ratio, but if your primary focus is on platforms like Instagram and Twitter, a 1:1 ratio will sit more nicely on the newsfeed. If you’re considering Instagram TV, Reddit livestreaming or Snapchat, you may want to embrace the vertical layout and shoot in portrait mode.


4. Consider your CTA


This version of Unilite’s video was produced for their own channels to generate excitement and drive viewers to YouTube to watch the longer ‘behind the scenes’ video on YouTube. This allowed them to place the call to action in the video description, so if they want to reuse the video elsewhere for a different purpose there’s no need to produce another edit. However, if your video is showing up on an external platform, you’ll want to make it clear to the viewer what actions they should be taking in response. Remember, cool content is the means, not the end goal.


How to use longform video content in your marketing strategy


Longer videos are best when your audience are motivated to stay engaged throughout, giving your brand prolonged exposure. Long watch duration helps your content get shown to a broader audience by algorithms on social media, while videos on your website prolong session time, an important metric for search engine optimisation. So how do you get people to watch the whole thing?



1. Start strong


For starters, take inspiration from traditional news journalism and put the lede upfront. That is to say, start with an exciting overview of the key elements of the story to spark people’s interest. Just because you’re making a longer video, doesn’t automatically mean people will give you more time before they get bored and scroll on past you. Once people are hooked, then you can reinforce brand messaging while keeping them engaged with exciting visuals and informative commentary.


2. Express yourself


A longer video is a great way to showcase brand personality and use the brand voice. Unilite’s Alex Insley does a great job of this, recalling previous stunts the brand has conducted to demonstrate the power and toughness of their products in his usual confident and good-natured way. Talking to our own Dr Chris Rose, we get across both the excitement and the technical skill involved in a project like this to emphasise just what an extreme test this will be for the SP-4500’s capabilities.


3. Keep it interesting


Longform content can quickly get boring if the tone and content feel too similar throughout. Using a mix of shorter and longer shots, varying angles and shooting distances can help maintain a dynamic feel. In this video, Unilite have used some quicker shots of the pre-launch development and prep process to illustrate and complement Chris’s explanation. The video is also subtly broken up into sections, shown by the use of audio and punctuated by a series of quick interstitial shots between the set-up phase, the moment of launch and the stunning images taken throughout the flight and landing.

If you’re looking for a unique way to showcase your brand with video content, our creative team’s winning combination of scientific understanding, marketing know-how and videography and editing expertise are at your disposal. All the above tips and tricks are important, but they’re nothing without incredible content—and there’s nothing like a space flight to capture the imagination of any audience. To find out what we can do for your brand, get in touch with our team today.

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