I had a great time in Toronto at this year’s Mobifest. Toronto’s a wonderful city and I would definitely go back. Sorry it took me roughly three weeks to say that. I met some great people, made some connections and got to see some fun videos and animation, but more than that, I learned one important thing: that guy running karaoke at the Holiday Inn was a huge asshole.
I enjoyed the Mobifest show itself (up until the awards part anyway) and I could see in each short what made it stand out to the judges. And it’s true, you do learn a bit about what works and what doesn’t from watching your video with an audience… like sometimes you can be too clever for your own good. I’m not saying that to sound arrogant, I mean that trying too hard to reinvent a tired story, or abstracting something to the point of obscurity, or just having too many things going on at once, you may just trip over your own feet. From that, here are a few things I learned about producing mobile content:
- Be iconic. Have a solid, easily-recognizable style, color palette, design.
- Don’t rely too heavily on audio; cellphones aren’t known for their sound quality. They’re known for having tiny, tinny speakers.
- You’re on a small screen, so don’t rely on a lot of subtle detail. A whole joke can be lost by a compression artifact or dropped frame.
- Don’t rush every joke — there’s this thing called ‘pacing’; you don’t have to write like your viewers have ADD.
- That guy running karaoke at the Holiday Inn can go suck a dick.
Here is the big winner of Mobifest Toronto, and it exemplifies many of the rules above (except maybe the one about that goddam DJ).