This article is currently in the brain-dump stage. I’ll be adding observations and resources here as I find them; then I’ll come back later and flesh out a full article.
The “Pope in the Pool” technique:
If you have to do exposition or an info-dump, mix it with another element that keeps the story moving or that is otherwise interesting.
My favorite example:
The Big Short (one of my two favorite movies) has several scenes meant to explain dense, boring financial concepts. In each scene, a famous celebrity explains the concept in a simple way whilst doing something else that’s more interesting:
- Selena Gomez plays blackjack and explains synthetic CDOs
- Margot Robbie drinks champagne in a bubble bath and explains MBSs
In the Margot Robbie clip, pay attention to something that happens slightly earlier than when she appears.
As Ryan Gosling’s voiceover starts to name complicated financial terms, we get a couple of funny edits (pictures) that play a couple of his choice words for jokes.
But more subtley… we still see (now silent) footage of MIchael Burry’s argument with his investor. The voiceover doesn’t immediately pull us away from that scene, nor the tension we feel from it. Instead, the scene’s tension helps make the transition to Margot Robbie’s aside more natural.
Watch how Jurassic Park handles this:
The entire expository scene, which teaches the audience about DNA and its extraction from insects fossilized in tree sap, is done in the context of the main characters going for a “test ride” in one of the park’s rides.
The Peak-End Rule:
From Mario Joos (former Retention Director for Mr. Beast):
“From research, we know that people mostly judge an experience based on how they felt at its peak (its most intense point) and at its end; not on the total sum or average of how they felt throughout the whole thing.”
Progressive vs. Non-Progressive Segments
From Mario Joos:
When we make content, there are two main types of segments: progressive segments and non-progressive segments. Progressive segments of our video are meant to move the story along, while non-progressive parts are meant to provide context…Now, here’s the problem: creators often try to put all important information up front because they want to get it out of the way so that viewers don’t have to think about it and can focus on the story. This kind of thinking is bad for YouTube content, though.