There’s at least one good thing that’s come out of the new-revamped Top Gear (aside from Matt Le Blanc) and that’s the marmite quality of Chris Evans. Whether he shouts too much (or indeed, not enough) is a hot topic in the Tallboy office – which makes a welcome change from the usual Brexit debate.
Taking a familiar format and refreshing can be the key to longevity. Children’s favourite Blue Peter is textbook. Throughout its near 60 year history, it has always a mixture of male and female presenters, a few pets, things to make and do and a bit of exotic travel thrown in. It’s a sure way to tell someone’s age – ask them who their favourite Blue Peter presenter is.
Television soap operas such as Coronation Street and the world’s longest running radio drama, the story of everyday country folk, the Archers, also re-vamp and re-fresh constantly. While keeping the essentials – the familiar theme tune, the location, the core values – those in charge ruthlessly kill off characters that either have done their time or serve no further purpose. Ambridge has always had a village shop; now, in keeping with many rural areas, it’s run as a community shop. Grey Gables was a country club – it’s now a luxurious hotel.
Revamping and refreshing a corporate video is also an excellent way to increase its durability. Just as anyone over the age of 28 will look out of place in the Blue Peter studio, the way a video is filmed can also date.
The first thing to consider is length. Microsoft recently surveyed 2,000 people in Canada and also studied the brain activity of a further 112 others. It revealed the average human attention span is now just eight seconds. And in case your mind has already drifted off, the attention span of a goldfish is estimated at nine seconds.
Videos should be short and to the point. Time and time again, Google analytics will show that the audience stopped watching the video at around 90 seconds. How many times have you been sent a must-see video and the first thing you do is check how long it is? And if it’s over a minute and a half – well, you don’t have the time.
And just as experts can look at a painting and know it’s approximate age by the type of paint and the formation of brush strokes, the way a video is edited can also reveal its age. A very linear story – opening shot of the outside of the office, the receptionist smiling, people in an office – telling the story from point A to point Z can be seen as very old-fashioned. Given the attention span, you can see why – it becomes unlikely people will watch to the end.
It’s the same with the actual filming. A great cameraman will have always looked for the unusual shot. Now with the advances in technology, such as smaller cameras and greater definition, that talent for composition can be heightened.
Whether Top Gear’s revamp will work is still a matter of debate. The format looks sound, but were the three middle-aged men in badly chosen clothes an essential part of that set-up? Or will just shouting loudly work?