The way people consume video content has undergone a significant evolution in recent years. With the rise of platforms like YouTube Shorts, IG Reels, and TikTok, there has been a surge in both short and long-form videos, catering to people’s varying attention spans and preferences.
On today’s episode of Startups On Demand, I am joined by Sean McDonnell, Founder of Fire Videos, a creative company that specializes in video editing and animation. They have a team of skilled artists and technicians who are passionate about telling stories and creating engaging visuals.
Today, we talk about the intersection between short and long-form videos, people’s attention span getting much shorter, and the next big thing in media and video content consumption.
Omri: How does surfing interact with entrepreneurship and running a business?
Sean: I feel like it’s a great way to start the day. It gets me up early. I wake up sometimes at 5 AM to just exercise for an hour or two. And as to how it relates to the business of doing videos, it’s very huge with surfing. Surfers are very obsessed with themselves. It’s a very selfish sport, really. There’s a whole business around video analysis and watching how you move in the water with your board, what you do with your arms, with your feet, and where you are in the wave. It’s been cool to work with video people on the beach, drone pilots, or people on the water getting all these different kinds of shots. It’s been pretty cool to see this whole world of surfing photography.
Omri: You guys are dominating this whole intersection of short-form and long-form videos – from YouTube shorts, Tik Tok, to IG reels. I think you guys are nailing strategies for specific types of videos. What’s your take on that?
Sean: I think the attention span of people online is very short, and it’s hard for people to sit through a 3-hour podcast episode of Joe Rogan, but if they see a 1-minute clip, they’re more willing to sit through that. And I think it’s become such a popular form of media to shoot something long-form and almost, by happenstance, you produce some of these short-form content that is doing really well. But my take is that what’s being overlooked is the scripted short-form content, and a lot of people are just repurposing the shorts from their long form. And I’ve seen mixed results from that. Sometimes you get lucky when something really takes off with the help of some really cool animation, but I think there’s a guy who is crushing it on YouTube shorts right now called Henry Belcaster, and he is probably the fastest-growing creator on YouTube shorts, and he does scripted ones. So he’ll put together scripted content that’s roughly 400-500 words, typically a story with interesting facts, and he’s just doing an incredible job using the green screen and telling a story in under 1 minute.
Omri: You talked about people’s attention span. Do you think in 10 years’ time, it’s going to get even shorter?
Sean: Well, it already is happening. We’ve priced out projects where there are 8-second videos. Those are more like ads specific to Snapchat. We’ve done work for Kraft, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, and Velveeta. We’ve done these short, 8-second ads. And yes, attention span is getting shorter and shorter. And maybe one day, it’ll get so short that there will be a surge of half-second subliminal messages that you don’t even know you’re watching.
Omri: You’ve worked with some of the biggest names in the industry. What is the next big thing in the media that you guys have talked about?
Sean: I think YouTube is still top of the charts. I think they’ve just figured out monetization the best, except for the shorts, which, for some reason, don’t pay. It’s the long form that pays. But it all depends on what the creator’s goals are. So if it’s mass exposure, the shorts are the easiest way to get there. But if you’re trying to build a career and really look at revenue from your videos, the longer form is the way to go.
Omri: We’ve talked about Ryan Breslow and his projects on the side. What do you think his goals are?
Sean: Well, he’s got Love, Eco, Bolt, and some other stuff he’s working on. So I think he’s trying to really focus on making those businesses grow. He also has the mission of helping young entrepreneurs in building their own businesses in a conscious, thoughtful way that’s really leading from a place of love, compassion, and kindness, but also aggressive and hardworking. I’ve learned a lot from him, he’s incredible to work with.