Blog: Think More Cinematic & Less Talking Heads | LAI Video

Think More Cinematic. Less Talking Heads.


People expect high-quality video all the time — even in your video marketing efforts. With the lines blurring between a good old-fashioned movie and a moving Duracel commercial that brings you to tears, viewers crave a story, not a sale. 

There’s a reason why the dreaded “talking head” is an unshakeable genre of video marketing. You dispatch your executives’ heads because those heads are really good at what they do: storytelling. This has just as much to do with your organization’s mission as it does your boss's personal brand.

From inwardly speaking to staffs and membership to outwardly communicating to the Hill and public, the modern-day association exec regularly informs and inspires audiences. But there's an art to making really good talking heads. At LAI Video, we learn from the best.

To fully immerse our audiences in something cinematic, we’re turning to Hollywood techniques that convey both professionalism and authenticity. Dolly shots. Handheld. Aerial photography. Slow-mo. We’re not boring viewers with a corporate message — we’re entertaining them with something well-made.

How Cinematic Techniques Tell a Story

Telling a story starts with understanding what it’s about — a no-brainer, right? Not always. With video marketing, you have to consider how you want the audience to feel as well as what you want from the audience. Their emotional journey, from beginning to end, is influenced and shaped by cinematic techniques.

Some of our personal favorites include:

Handheld Shots

While some filmmakers stray away from handheld shots due to their shakiness, when you use them here and there they can have a big impact on the feel of your videos. Handheld shots in our #IAmIH project, for instance, emphasized the day-in-the-life moments of being an industrial hygienist. For a smoother shot, Steadicams are the answer.

Of course, these tricks only emphasize a solid story. We partnered with The Association of Union Constructors to celebrate Craftperson of the Year Kevin Knowlton. We developed a day-in-the-life video that honored not just Kevin's family legacy, but also the entire profession of millwright-ing. So when TAUC's audience demanded something cinematic, we gave them less talking heads and more Dirty Jobs

Aerial Shots

The bird’s-eye view of aerial shots gives perspective. We see these all the time in movies taking place in New York City, London, or another major hub. Use this cinematic technique to help your viewers understand the scale of a facility or flesh out the story you’re telling of a small business in a farming community. Check out our New Markets Tax Credits project to see this in action

Dolly Shots

Who doesn’t love a dolly shot? They’re a classic! Whether you’re using a tracking shot or push-and-pull movement on a dolly, you can create a visual experience that makes audiences feel like they’re walking alongside or following your subject. We’ve used this technique precisely for that in our Retail Across America video series.

Crane Shots

Epic” is one word for crane shots. And their history is a long one, going all the way back to silent films. Crane shots are useful when you want to create a visual scene that’s larger-than-life while still offering a view that’s more intimate than an aerial shot. And we were thrilled to do just that through a partnership with Prince George’s Community College.

High-Speed Photography

For a dramatic, slow-motion effect, you can trust high-speed photography. This cinematic technique is also useful for capturing fast movements in nature, like the motion of a hummingbird’s wings or the jaguar-fast punches of a boxer. Hint — that’s one of the ways we’ve used high-speed photography, highlighting professional boxer Rau’shee “Baby Pit” Warren.


Sure, this looks like any ole talking head, but this educational series is as immaculately scripted as it is shot, which can position any subject as the subject matter expert. For the American Enterprise Institute, we emulated these intimate fireside conversations with Arthur Brooks sharing a few lessons from his new book.

73 Questions

We adapted the popular Vogue YouTube series that features the rich and famous answering questions while giving private tours of their celebrity homes. Consider inviting viewers to get to know your executive by giving them a behind the scenes tour of the office, as we did with Jason Broughton at Zappos headquarters — all in one shot!

The Dollar Shave Club

The 2011 viral video reimagines the office tour into something quirky and fun. Replace authenticity with theatrics, emphasizing personality and culture. If we could do it for the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, think what we could do for you!

The 60 Minutes

This list wouldn’t be complete without a nod to the retiring Steve Kroft, who has been walking and talking with interviewees for 30 years. Make your executive the interviewer, setting him or her up to ask the hard-hitting questions over an easy stroll.


The award-winning Hollywood Reporter Roundtable series has become the standard for moderating a group of professionals or industry experts. For No Kid Hungry, we called on an ensemble of celebrity chefs to talk about the importance of philanthropy and collectively geek out over the one and only Danny Meyer.

Let us create your next video to be more than just a talking head

    Want to see how we make a cinematic trailer? Reach out to us today and we’ll not only show you, but also turn your marketing message into a well-told story.

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