What will be the most important trends in online video and audio for 2021? Voicebooking.com posed this to more than 150 producers, directors, creatives and editors.
“This year you really saw what people could do with their smartphone: it is a Hollywood studio in your pocket.” – Tim van der Wiel, Founder social first agency GoSpooky.
Authenticity and a good story were the clear winners this year in contrast to over-produced video, full of drone footage and 3D effects. Most of those questioned had already seen this trend growing last year but it has moved far quicker than anticipated. The most likely reason behind its acceleration was, of course, that the majority of video makers were tied to the house. Without all the special effects to obscure it, the quality of the story became paramount.
But what are the other trends that stuck out in 2020? And what can we expect in 2021? More than 150 clients told us what they think the coming year has in store for us. In addition, we interviewed four of the leading lights in the field. They turned out to be almost unanimous about the online video trends they see headed our way in 2021.
1) Don’t make ads, make TikToks
TikTok was definitely the breakthrough medium of 2020. Still, it seems that many businesses are yet to work out what they can do with the medium exactly. Just 5 % of our interviewees were already making videos for TikTok. However, as the number of users on the social media platform has exploded, it seems just a matter of time before companies begin investigating its potential uses en masse.
Jorn Agterberg, Marketing Manager Qmusic
“Though it has been clear for a few years already that everyone is able to be a video maker, with TikTok that has now become reality for an even larger group of people. It’s no longer so difficult to make something which looks and sounds good. What we find curious at Qmusic is that it all revolves around music. Songs which you haven’t heard for ages are suddenly popular again; like, Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams’ (1977). Or tunes get remixed into new music and become hits, like Jason Derulo did with ‘Savage Love’. That says something about the influence of TikTok.”
Tim van der Wiel, Founder social first agency GoSpooky
“This year you really saw what people could do with their smartphone: it is a Hollywood studio in your pocket. On the other hand, TikTok does not require perfection. Originality is more important. It’s better to be the first than the seventh, but if it works, it goes fast. We see that a 15 second TikTok video can sometimes work better than a 300k fully produced commercial. Don’t make ads, make TikToks.”
2) Raw videos with far less polish
In 2021 authenticity will be central. That shone through both the answers we received to the questionnaire and the interviews we held. In part, this trend comes from necessity. “Because of the Covid19 rules we are using real families far more often, instead of casting, putting ‘families’ together”, wrote one producer. And it works too. Authenticity also means that you mustn’t let yourself be manipulated by someone else. Many respondents think that’s bad news for the many influencers who live by, and for, product reviews.
Jordi van de Bovenkamp, Creative Director, creative digital agency Media Monks
We’re much less susceptible to shiny and fictional. You saw commercials for big brands like KPN and Heineken which were shot on a handheld or a smartphone. Of course, that’s partially out of necessity, because of Covid, but it was also a choice to play on the reality of the moment. They could also just have used something extant. I hope that this trend continues. Not because it lowers the standard of execution but because it can all be a bit rougher and less polished."
3) Explainer Videos: mix text, animation and presentation
What you really can’t do any more: use the hand of the artist bringing an animation to life on a whiteboard. Or the other extreme, the talking head, that’s also become passé. In 2021 viewers will click away from those really quickly. A good explainer video now combines different elements within it. “A bit like the Covid explainer videos from the NOS”, wrote one respondent.
Jerry Renes, Founder of animation company In60seconds:
"People really have a bit of explainer video fatigue. There’s an awful lot of the same thing. Standard forms of animation you can make for almost nothing, but it all looks the same. So, you need to take a close look at what the target audience wants and where they are. What I see works well is when you make not just another explainer video, but when you combine text, or make it interactive. Why not an online cookbook where you show the instructions to be carried out via an animated Gif on a loop, for instance?
4) Content tailored to the format
Most of the time a good video is not enough. Two thirds of those questioned are requested by clients to make separate videos for different media. In almost 40% of cases special content is developed for YouTube, in around 30% for Facebook and Instagram.
Tim van der Wiel, founder GoSpooky
“Hopefully we all agree: social media platforms are not distribution channels. The idea that you can use one piece of content everywhere, that’s really outdated. You need to have a really good look at the culture of the platform and how it’s used. That’s the core. That’s what you need to build on. Just shooting a ‘bit’ of social content during a shoot for a commercial, doesn’t get you anywhere.”
Jordi van de Bovenkamp, Creative Director MediaMonks
“I am definitely not a fan of ‘cut downs’, as we call them. That’s when you make a really expensive production for TV and then think you can make a cut for social media. It happens less now, but you still see it. If you want to be successful on particular platforms, then you need to deliver tailor-made work for each. There needs to be a socially driven team behind every director. And, think too about whether you want to be everywhere. If your target group isn’t there, then you don’t need to be either. Stick to your trade.”
5) More female voices and Audio imaging
Bad audio is a real turn-off, everyone is convinced of that. But, what about the type of voice over? That is changing. 36% have even had a go at using a Robot voice over. But is that here to stay? Only if you can tailor-make the voice and make it unique, it seems.
Jorn Agterberg, Marketing Manager Qmusic
“What you find is that brands are looking for their own sound: audio imaging. In radio it’s been that way for a long time, but now you find people are much busier with it in advertising too. Whereas people used to pick a voice that just sounded nice, nowadays much more thought goes into selection. Do you want a young, or a more mature voice, a man or a woman? What do you want your car brand to sound like?”
Jerry Renes, Founder animation company In60Seconds
“By far, the majority of voice overs for animation videos are male, but increasingly I notice female voices are being chosen. These days a female voice can also be used for a technical subject. And, because female actors are becoming better at that, they are easier to find too.”
About Jente Kater
FOUNDER & CEO
Jente Kater is the founder and CEO of Voicebooking.com, the fastest growing voice acting agency in Europe. It maintains a web shop format and provides 24-hour delivery by professional voice talents, who record in their native tongue from locations around the world. Jente loves writing about audio-visual communication, copywriting, media and radio. Prior to Voicebooking.com he was a DJ for various national radio stations in the Netherlands. In his spare time Jente still records voice overs.