Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future is 1985 television movie which had its origins in a music video. One of the plot points in the movie is that a reporter, played by Matt Frewer discovers that the television station he works for has created a new form of advertising called a "Blipverts". Blipverts are high-speed, highly concentrated, commercials that last a few seconds. More adds in less time means more revenue for the company but there is only one problem. Blipverts can kill.
Just to give you some idea of the state of web technology available during the production of Max Headroom, In 1986, the National Science Foundation funded NSFNet as a cross country 56 Kbps backbone for the Internet. 25 years later the speed of the internet backbone is closing in on 100 Gbit/s. My how things change!
For many of the last decades, broadcast television has been the dominant media platform. Television is the child of film and as such much of its terminology and function was inherited from the film world. Because of the intimate technology relationship between film and video, television inherited something else from its cinematic parent, rhythm. Until the invention of video editing systems and specifically, non-linear editing systems, film was cut and spliced together. This is slow, arduous, thoughtful work that is done by hand. It is in the truest meaning of the word, a craft.
Editing film has certain limitations to it. Film moves through a physical mechanism. Gears turn, sprockets move of the gears, film moves across the gate, light shines through the film. Because of its physicality, film had its own rhythm. During the 1960 the standard length of a television commercial was 1 minute. At some point, advertisers developed a controversial practice of “piggybacking” which meant putting two, thirty second commercials into a one minute time slot. These two commercials were for different products from the same company.
In 1971, 30 seconds became the standard length for a television commercial.
We interrupt this blog for a very important message:
Do you breathe? Are you aware of your breathing?
Science has shown that the average healthy adult at rest has a breathing rate between of 12 breaths a minute. Children between the ages of 2 and 6 years old typically have a breathing rate of 20-30 breaths per minute. Children (2-6 years of age) have a typical rate of 20 - 30 breathes per minute.
We now return to our regularly scheduled blog.
The breath is the baseline function of a human being. It is the primary exchange we have with our environment. If you want information to be easily absorbed and integrated by your audience, align the rhythm of your information with the baseline function of a human being.