Why Image Films Behave Like an Old Man From the Pre-Digital Era, and Therefore Are No Alternative

The worse alternative is an image film
The imagefilm and the good old days | Historic postcard, 1924 © KF Editeurs

In the good old days there was only the commercial for product advertising in the cinema and on TV, the image film and the product film as an alternative for all other purposes. Until YouTube and social media made the forms of consumption of film and video, which had been tried and tested for decades, look old overnight.

In a non-linear world, the conventionally built corporate film no longer has anything to say. There are better and more efficient alternatives to achieve effects with moving images!

You need to know that

  • Image films are based on the error of a static world view. It says that every few years a company should use moving images to communicate its own corporate image.
  • Instead of investing considerable resources in an image film, it is advisable to rely on serial videos. These can also transport values, but as a modular measure they can be continuously adapted to reality.
  • The image film has a credibility problem. It is supposed to connect feelings with a brand, but often must not rely on emotions.
  • There are many video formats which link information and identification surfaces more elegantly and thus transport messages more efficiently.

Image film: An old man from the pre-digital era!

Does the river change the riverbed? Or does it force the river to move? No one will deny that both elements, river and riverbed, influence each other. The same applies to moving images and distribution channels. That is why image videos should be abolished! The image film is a moronic old man from the pre-digital era. Old ways of marketing do not work anymore in a digitally driven world!

The problem of the old warrior image film begins with the fact that the perception of a thing is not static but dynamic. This dynamic has increased significantly through digitalisation and not least thanks to social media. Moving images, information and emotions have become ubiquitous.

But that is not all.

The “image”, whether at brand, product or company level, is still made up of the sum of individual views. The number of these individual parts, which ultimately form the “reputation”, has virtually exploded with the new media. At the same time, the speed and frequency with which positive and negative perceptions spread has increased radically. Image films have to face these new demands.

The emperor from Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale no longer buys his new clothes from H&M. He has them delivered by Zalando and will make them himself tomorrow in his own 3D printer. Everything remains different.

In the face of this dynamic, can and may one throw a battleground steed, already somewhat stiff in its joints, into battle to win the battle for attention?

The image film

The classic imagevideo of a video production has two tasks: It should, as the name suggests, strengthen, change or build up an image and – in concert with a clever distribution strategy – make this perception known. Both factors, image and awareness, are essential for the sale of products or services.

For this reason, the old-school commissioned film must be an all-rounder. It explains the essence and goes into depth to think in big arcs at the same time. And, because the attitude (meaning the psychological term, not the film technical attitude) is largely based on emotions, it must be able to juggle facts and feelings.

The complexity of this mix is only possible with an enormous amount of expertise, experience and talent. Simply filming is not enough when creating an image film. Such productions do not belong in the hands of young filmmakers and inexperienced providers. This No Go has always made this kind of video expensive. But even if the budget for a “nice” film is available in times of restrictive means, can it still serve its purpose in the current media environment?

Yes, it can. But only if the image film is more sharply defined and thought and designed in a more precise and modern form.

An alternative makes sense if it can better fulfil the same communication goals. Better means: closer to the viewer, cheaper, more flexible regarding future updates or more authentic.

Currently there are 5 alternatives for this, no matter wheter you name your product video or film:

Alternative 1: Corporate short film

Many image films try to hide behind a story. One doesn’t really trust the carefully compiled catalogue of keywords for film briefings (sustainability, customer orientation, innovation, etc.). Videos of this type have one thing in common: as a viewer you feel the intention and are … – out of tune!

It is more promising to focus on telling a story right from the start and to open the image film as a short film. Whether real or fictional, every story is based on values and the achievement of goals to a far greater extent than the layman might think.

A short film format offers many possibilities for moving image content on the web: The production can be accompanied by photos and video clips. Serial, short interviews with protagonists, makers and clients, trailers and making-of can keep interest in short film alive for weeks on end while communicating valuable additional information.

Alternative 2: Corporate reportage video

Every film has a narrative perspective. The angle of view alone, both that of the author and later that of the director and cameraman, is chosen and therefore always subjective.

Reportage makes the choice of perspective a principle. It asks (“do I want to know”) and openly declares the object of its curiosity as a premise.

Reportage is a demanding matter editorially. But their realisation is far less elaborate than with traditional dinosaur image films or short films. Even with manageable financial means, this allows the necessary resources to be put into the careful preparation of emotions and information to be transported by film or video.

For social channels, a reportage can be approached in different ways. Multi-part reportages on one topic (monothematic) are just as possible as a series of reports on different topics.

Alternative 3: Corporate video documentation

In contrast to reportage, which traces a question or a thematic field and may also make the feelings of the narrator visible, documentation takes a more objective approach. The documentary observes. It looks and shows what is happening. Emotions do not arise from the narrator, but from the viewer. Company documentation is one of the most authentic ways to give a company a face.

In the preparation for new media, the documentation has the same possibilities as the reportage.

Alternative 4: Modular Corporate Video

Serial and modular can be not only reports and documents, but basically any kind of video. Always provided that two conditions are considered.

Either the content must be suitable for natural editing in chapters. Individual segments must be consumable as such without losing their appeal.

Or the content to be told as a single strand can be separated into individual modules using Cliffhanger. Cliffhanger is the dramaturgical trick that asks a question at the end of the module or presents the viewer with a situation that he or she must watch the next episode to solve.

Alternative 5: 360 Image film

Virtual reality (VR) can also be used for image purposes. In the best case, the technology, which is considered a trend, goes hand in hand with the content in a synergetic way. 360 imagevideos can also be used on all platforms with a strong reach without losing interactivity. This is what the big players in the video business are counting on: Google, the subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. is now increasingly shuffling the cards in 360 film with the YI HALO 360-degree camera from Google.

Like all video films, 360 image films always have the strongest impact when they accept situations and don’t want to turn them into a story. There is no compulsion for storytelling. Even a single interactive view can change preexisting views of a thing through insight. Where interesting and visually appealing things are to be discovered, the all-round view, whether as a live stream accessible in real time on the Internet or as a well-done 360 video, can be unbeatable in terms of impact and authenticity.


The Internet does not make videos better or worse. Just different. This also affects the improvement of creative ideas and the classic image film.

This article was automatically translated into English using AI. If you would like to help us improve the quality, we would be happy to hear from you.

Kristian Widmer
About Kristian Widmer 21 Articles
Kristian Widmer ist Mitglied der Schweizer Filmakademie. Der promovierte Jurist und Inhaber eines MBA der Universität St. Gallen HSG war langjähriger CEO der 1947 gegründeten und mit einem Academy Award™ ausgezeichneten Condor Films AG.

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