‘What makes a cooking video engaging?’

For my research project I wanted to look at the different methods and techniques used in cooking videos and tutorials. I asked the question ‘What makes a cooking video engaging?’. From my research I discovered there are different types of cooking videos and there is a variety of popular formats. I touched briefly on the traditional cooking show format. This consisted of a host or chef talking to the audience in a conversational manner and narrating their actions as they cook a particular dish. The main format I focused on was the ever growing revolutionary format of the ‘Tasty’ Video. This is a company that produce short, sharp, snappy cooking tutorials that are generally always filmed from a birds eye view. They are generally viewed through Facebook and are consumed within a matter of minutes. Facebook is a good platform of dissemination for these videos as people don’t have to actively seek them out, they simply pop up on your news feed if people you know have liked them, commented on them or tagged you in them. They are also well suited to Facebook because they are short in length, people can just view them quickly without having to commit to a half hour program. With new media development peoples attention spans are becoming shorter, they become disengaged more rapidly and require more stimulation in order to grab and maintain their attention. This way viewers get an understanding of what the video is about after only watching for a number of seconds, then they can decide if they would like to continue watching the remaining few minutes or not.
In my Meatloaf video I chose to use a range of fatty products to see if the indulgent food was more popular with audiences. These included meat, sausages, bacon, cheese, bread and butter. This was my 1st video attempt and I wanted to use it as some what of a control. Here I familiarize myself with the typical ‘Tasty’ style of video and experimented with the birds eye camera angle and elliptical editing. I used a variety of ellipsis by either cutting chunks out of the footage and removing them entirely or speeding up the action. In some cases these techniques blurred, when I sped up the action fast enough it would remove chunks of footage on its own. I was worried about this being jarring on the viewer but in conjunction with the music it worked quite well. The music gave them another aspect to focus on which distracts from the cuts. I also think they ultimately the audience would be less perturbed by jumpy cuts and editing then they would be by watching the tutorial in real time. I still did my best to edit to the movements so the action appeared somewhat continuous and cyclical.
My choc chip pudding video experimented with desserts and sweet ingredients. I focused on the technique of zoom in and zoom out. I wanted to look at this as an element of visual intrigue and see if it makes the video more engaging. I think it was successful although it was over used in this video. Maybe it could have been used in conjunction with other techniques. Otherwise it could have been minimised by only showing each ingredient once rather then zooming in and out on the packaging, zooming in and out on the product in its raw form and then zooming in and out once the ingredient has been incorporated into the mixture.
The Cheesecake was formed using entirely still photography. Although this allowed the video to be even shorter I think there was too much foreshortening of time which took away important details and makes it more difficult for the audience to string each cut or separate image together into a unified thread of chronological information. This video also experimented with narration vs visual/written instructions. Written instructions worked well on the other forms of video but they provided insufficient information in conjunction with the still photos. This required a voice over narration. Otherwise there were too many separate elements that the audience have to piece together, taking the focus away from the cooking. Whether you are making a easy or technical recipe the tutorial should make it as clear, simple and easy to understand as possible.
The Sweet Potato Burger tested the popularity and appeal of healthy food. Although the ingredients are good you the recipe is not complex. It is a quick and simple one bowl cook which appeals to time short people.
The Peanut Veggie Burger was the traditional cooking video.
I asked questions such as how important is the technical ability of the chef? How important is the personality of the chef? How important is it to be able to see the chefs face?
My final video was a Mushroom Strudel in which music and rhythmic editing was my main focus. I edited the footage according to the beats in in the music. I think this makes the editing less jarring and unites the audio with the visuals to create 1 unified product. I’m not sure if I took the editing and motion too far and turned it into an experimental piece rather then a cooking tutorial.

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