How My Video Became a Vimeo Staff Pick


A few thoughts on how to become a Vimeo staff pick.

My experience

I remember the morning so clearly, even though it was almost 10 years ago now. I was fresh out of college, making maybe $10 an hour. I woke up as usual, made some coffee, and began to scroll through my emails per my normal morning routine. I quickly realized that there were about 50 new emails in my inbox from Vimeo… strange. Much to my delight, I noticed that the video I had posted a few days ago had been selected as a Vimeo staff pick. It had already been seen about 1000x times and received a few dozen comments.

The feeling was surreal. The time I had spent in the wee hours of the night with After Effects meticulously animating this audio poem titled ‘Television’ was being noticed by so many eyes. I was young and didn’t have a career or a family yet, so this was an amazing feeling of validation. The following video is my motion graphics interpretation of ‘Television’, a poem byTodd Alcott

So, how did my video become a Vimeo staff pick? I can only speculate to the exact reasons, as the answer is a bit mysterious. There is no secret formula that I am aware of, but I am going to break down a few reasons that I think helped get it noticed. Following these steps will help any filmmaker to produce better work in general, but you never know, maybe you will wake up to a few unexpected extra emails from Vimeo one morning too.

1 | The Joy of Creating

When I look back on this occasion, it reminds me of why I chose this path. It takes me back to the joy I felt in simply creating something out of nothing. An idea could be expressed without limits or boundaries. When I sat down to create this video, I had no audience in mind, no client, no critic. I didn’t make a single dime for it. I did it simply for the joy of creating.

It’s so easy to become complacent after years in a creative industry. You begin to find formulas and quick solutions to produce work more easily and efficiently. You get into a habit of creating what you know your client wants to see, instead of what you know will be the best way to tell the story. It’s an easy place to find yourself. In fact, it often happens for good reason with so many deadlines to meet and so much content to churn. I am reminding myself to slow down. Take a step back and let my creative self breathe. Creativity is like a muscle - it needs time to rest every once in a while. Carve out time to take a break from what simply pays the bills and focus on just creating something for the pure joy of it.

2 | Be original

Obviously, the video needs to be unique. With so much more content being churned out each and every day, the stakes are higher than ever. Your video can’t just be technically sound, it also needs to say something new. It needs to stand out from the crowd. It must convey a strong message and do so in a clear and compelling way.

Find your own voice. You will find hundreds of similar techniques out there using animated typography, and these days most of them are much more sophisticated than this one. Ten years is a long lifespan for a video of this type. But the reason it is still effective is because it’s not just a flashy video with cool (not so cool any more) titles, it actually has a message. The audio recording of this poem obviously did that for me pretty easily. I simply animated it. In my mind, it was noticed because it’s honest and raw. There is nothing ground breaking or amazing about any of the motion graphic techniques in the video (in fact they are obviously quite dated now). But the topic is totally relevant. Society has only become increasingly dependent on technology and self-gratification and this message resonates with just about everyone. For that reason, it immediately strikes a cord. And, of course, there’s an ounce of luck that my video happened to be noticed in the bunch.

3 | Master your craft

The whole reason I sat down to create this video was my interest in learning After Effects. I used this video as an opportunity to learn more about typography and how to animate it to an audio track. You will find hundreds of similar techniques out there, and these days most of them are much more sophisticated than this one. Obviously as stated before, you can’t really just on fancy techniques, you need a unique voice and a strong message. But that being said, you can’t neglect the fact that you also need a solid foundation for design and technique in whatever medium you are using to create your video or animation with whether it’s After Effects, Premiere Pro, Photoshop, you name it. Take some time to learn the ins and outs of whatever program or technique it is you are using. Even if you are not a ‘pro’ at it yet, jump right in to your project. Have fun with it. If you have a new idea, jump right in. Use it as your opportunity to combine all these points together - communicate your idea with compelling, well-crafted visuals while having fun and I have no doubt that you’ll be happy with the results.

4 | Find a niche

One helpful hint for separating yourself from the crowd is to try and find an untapped niche. It could revolve around a hobby or a topic that you know a lot about that others may not. Is there something unique you could share that others may not have heard about? Maybe it has to do with a current even or a strong belief that you hold. To make a truly effective video that will actually turn some heads, it needs to come from a place of conviction. You need to really care about it.

I hope these four tips help you on your way towards creating something awesome. Add an ounce of luck and you may find that beloved staff pick badge on your video soon. Either way, I know your videos will continue to improve if you implement these simple steps each and every time.

I would love to see what you create. Feel free to share a link to your project below. Are you feeling the pressure to constantly churn out content as a creative professional? Comment below and let me know how you overcome the creative slumps. If anyone is interested in participating in a monthly creative challenge, let me know. Maybe we could also start something up to motivate each other along the way and remind each other to find joy in our work again. Happy creating!