Visual Communication is Bigger Than Film

Posted on by Larry

For most of my life, I viewed network television, and to a lesser extent, feature films, as the ultimate in video production. They were the standard against which I judged all other programs.

And, indeed, today, network television is creating amazing work.


But, for the last several years, I’ve also taught a university course focused, not on filmmakers or professional videographers, but on engineering and business students who want to improve their visual communication skills in order to get a job in business.

In each of these classes, I discovered there was a balance. On one hand, I wanted to explain and teach the techniques that professionals had developed over the years to create successful promos, ads and programs. While on the other side some of the students just wanted to learn enough to “get by.”

Their mantra was “why do we need to learn this when we can be successful on YouTube without knowing any of this?” That is a hard argument to refute. Some YouTubers generate tens of millions of views and millions of dollars. But not all of them. Not even most of them.

Then, last night on the Digital Production Buzz, Sam Mestman, president of LumaForge, said something that crystalized this issue for me. “The Pro video market,” Sam said, “and video as a medium, is exploding. Everybody is doing it now. It’s required, if you have a business, to have high-quality video.”

THAT is the key. Competition for customers and eyeballs has moved definitively from print to video. Video on websites. Video on social media. Video on traditional media. No one reads any more. For ANY business to be successful, they must communicate effectively, clearly and powerfully using moving images. White papers are read by geeks. Videos are watched by the world.


For my students to succeed in the business world today, they must master visual communication skills. It is no longer “nice to know,” it’s a business survival skill. Content, creativity and quality are the touch-points to success.

Teaching the tools of today’s media – both hardware and software – is important. But teaching what to DO with those tools is even more important. Learning how to design and craft messages that will move audiences to DO something is at the heart of business communication today.

Just as with my students, video professionals need to keep hammering the point that business success today relies on powerful visual stories. Stories that capture the hearts and minds of audiences and customers.

Yes, there are serious, significant challenges in our industry. But a lack of audience is not one of them. As Sam said, the world of video is exploding. Our job as visual communicators is to harness that interest and remind potential clients that their business success rests on leveraging high-quality video and communication tools simply to keep up with the competition.

Visual content creators (that means us) are more critical to business than ever. You don’t need to be a filmmaker to change the world. You only need to know how to unlock the power in a moving image. And that’s a skill that’s in constant demand.


You might also read this op-ed in Red Shark News:
Is it high-time to look beyond creature films as a career aim?

2 Responses to Visual Communication is Bigger Than Film

  1. This is so true. I started in TV News and did a small stint in Hollywood, but most of my 40 year career has been in Independent production for commercial, corporate clients. It is a good living and I was able to move to new media (Internet). As I tell people “Hollywood Came To Me” in terms of my abilities because of digital technology.

  2. Mike Janowski says:

    And a corollary here is that, since it’s “so easy, anyone can do it”, means many many people will try to do it themselves. And I say more power to them…and when the DIY approach doesn’t get you what you want, we pros will be here to see that you get what you need.

    Just don’t expect to pay us like we’re your boss’ kid…

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