Keep Viewers Engaged with Creative Composition

Case Study 5 min
Watch and take notes from this training reel that delivers a lot of sizzle in a short clip from Operations Group National Training Center.

Fort Irwin's Sizzle Reel showcases the training, power and capability that exists at Fort Irwin. The sizzle reel itself is a great example of good composition, interesting shots and well-chosen music that creates a dynamic experience for the viewer.

What makes this product a composition to emulate?

This "sizzle reel" is chock full of great composition techniques. The wide variety of angles and shot types build tension and excitement. 53 seconds into the clip you see the hand of someone throwing a die. The composition focuses on the action and helps to tell a bit of the story. The juxtaposition of the calmness of the game against the high stakes training is chilling.

The music and sound effects work seamlessly with the pacing. Minute 1:10 the music quiets down to match the slower camera pacing but at 1:19 the music picks up and the percussion does the work of the environmental sounds.

Even the weather has a part to play in the video. Sunlight skims a window but a soldier is just in the shadow. Dust gets caught in a solar flare and obscures your vision.

Each of these elements was carefully chosen, edited, paired with music to make the viewer feel as though they were on the scene, experiencing the training in person.

All of these individual choices are rooted in the foundations of excellent storytelling. The overall effect is a memorable, positive experience — which in turn helps build the brand and establish advocates to fulfill a communication goal.

What could have made it better?

At 1:27 a wounded soldier is writhing on the ground. Without natural audio, it's possible to disconnect from this experience. Even allowing the music to take a backseat to the wounded soldier and his fellow soldiers calling for help could have made that moment unforgettable.

Lessons Learned

Follow the lead of the creators of this sizzle reel and be creative with your shots, angles and the environment. In this video, it's clear they assessed the overall goal of the video and created a storyboard with each of the scenes needed to capture to meet the goal. Don't be afraid to collect several shots and b-roll and then choose from the best of them as the creators of this video did. Variety helps keep the viewer's interest.

Make sure you bring along the right equipment to collect natural audio, even if the overall intent is to use music. This includes voices, sounds from nature and machinery. Taking advantage of all the resources available to you will bring the audience into the story and provide a more immersive experience.

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