The Most Powerful Tool

I got yelled at on Tuesday. I was at my son’s spring track meet and as he tried to pole vault over a seven foot bar, I took a “live photo” with my iPhone 6s. A “live photo” is a funky thing my phone does where when you take a picture, the phone records 1.5 seconds of video both before and after the moment I pressed the button… pretty cool.

As you can see in the video below, he almost made it over. So, being an interested (and data driven) Dad, I walked over to show my son his vault with the idea he might correct his mistakes on his next attempt.

As I approached him with my phone outstretched, the official running the pole vault cried out, “Sir! Sir! Don’t show him that. If you do he’ll be disqualified.”

Replay video from my phone is so powerful, it is considered cheating.

From the day my father first let me play with our “Super 8” movie camera, I have been a video head. I have always loved shooting, editing, but most of all watching well-executed videos.

My regular readers know at my core, I am a storyteller. Although most of my creative work in recent years has been written, I have always believed video to be the very most powerful tool we have to communicate a message.

Here’s the thing… our brains can handle four channels of information simultaneously. When watching a video of any kind, our eyes take in both hard data: numbers, facts, words, symbols; and soft data: colors, mood, expressions, and body language. While our eyes are gobbling up the visuals, our ears are doing the same. We can take in spoken words and their meanings; at the same time we drink in music, effects and other ethereal sounds. Not only can our brain can handle all four channels of information at once, it can combine any of the four into additional, compound streams of meaning.

If video could produce smells, we could handle that too, but I think that is a subject for another day.

With the understanding how the lobes of our brain can handle all this info, it’s important to note that our noggin also applies selective filters, based on our personal likes, dislikes and interests. Car commercials use this all the time.

Take a commercial for sports sedan like the BMW 5 series. A performance minded person will take away all the performance related information from the ad, while a safety and comfort focused person will remember only information related to their interests… two audiences, one ad, different results. We tend to take in and remember only the information that interests us, while ignoring the rest.

This morning I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and a friend of mine had shared a video. Sometimes I click on these and sometimes I don’t, but today I did and was blown away.

What you are about to see represents perhaps the greatest application of the video technology we have available to us today… the ability to open minds and hearts.

The idea itself is clever and effective, but even ten years ago, it would have been difficult to pull off. Watch the piece, and if you agree that video is the most powerful tool we have available to us as humans, try and integrate more of it into whatever it is you do. I think you’ll be glad you did.

Copyright © 2017 – Stephen S. Nazarian – All rights reserved.

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6 thoughts on “The Most Powerful Tool

  • Great article and videos! On the topic of perception through multiple senses, I was reminded of a dining experience in Shanghai, my old home, called Ultraviolet. I did not participate, but I would love to some day. Their website is very interesting (, but the Wikipedia description may be easier to digest:

    “Billed as the first multi-sensory restaurant in the world, Ultraviolet uses sight, sound and smell to enhance the food through a controlled and tailored atmosphere. The restaurant has a single table of 10 seats and serves a single 20+ course dinner menu for ten guests each night. The dining room of Ultraviolet is ascetic with no décor, no artifacts, no paintings, and no views. It is a purpose-built room specifically equipped with multi-sensory high-end technology such as dry scent projectors, stage and UV lighting, 360 degree wall projection, table projectors, beam speakers and a multichannel speaker system. Each course of the menu is dressed-up by lights, sounds, music, and /or scents, and enhanced with its own tailored atmosphere to provide context for the dish’s taste.”

    • What he told me was that no support other than cheering and conversation is allowed. He didn’t get more specific.

      • Unless you provide video to every competitor in the field, it is giving your son an unfair advantage over the other competitors. It’s not the video that is the problem, it’s the access to information that others don’t have.

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