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Leo Wattenberg

Intros are unnecessary, or: Why your cool intro isn't a good one

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Moin.

While the following post is mostly directed at gamers, it's valid for any kind of channel.

I see time and time again that small gaming channels get the idea that using a title card (aka intro) for their videos would make them look more professional and thus would make them grow their channel faster. And the idea behind it isn't all that wrong: Branding is important, it leads to people that randomly stumble across your content and like it to later recognize you again and think "oh look, this channel only produces great content. Better subscribe to it!"

Quickly navigating to relevant sites, they quickly find an intro template to use, which in the end looks like this:

scr-2018-02-06 15_47_49.png

(Fig 1: collection of 3D-spinny-text* intros with loads of particle effects, 10s long, synced to dubstep music.)

However: Using such an intro is a terrible idea because:

  1. The intro isn't unique. If it's a free and highly rated template, there are thousands of other people using it as well. Which sort of goes against the idea of making people recognize you as someone standing out.
  2. The intro isn't representative of your channel. Spinning 3D text is spinning 3D text and will remain spinning 3D text. Unlike good branding, it's impossible to make a connection between the intro and the content. As examples, a space channel can use stars and rockets, a cooking channel can use pots, pans, knifes, forks and such, a gaming channel can use controllers, screens, consoles and so on – and these are only the most generic choices. Text however is even more generic and nothing-saying than that. 
  3. The intro is unnecessary long. If someone stumbles upon your video, they want to watch the video. And if the video doesn't deliver immediately, they will leave the page and simply click on the next video. If they came via search, chances are that there would be someone else anyways that delivers very similar content. 
  4. The intro doesn't fit to the rest of the branding. Branding is a combination of intro, outro, avatar, channel banner, thumbnails and channel trailer. If your intro is significantly different from the rest of your branding, your branding isn't really effective. 
  5. The music of these things often is cutting out prematurely and/or has some sort of awkward fadeout. The reason for this is that music has natural break points every 4 bars, but that 10s rarely match up anywhere near perfect with that. In any case, it doesn't really sound nice.

* The wolf face is not a 3D text thingy. Instead, it's just 5s of still image. 

Is es even necessary to use an intro?

Let's put it this way: We looked at 100 successful channels, and these were the results:

scr-2018-02-06 16_56_37.png

  • 5% start with ads. Like: "this video was sponsored by …"*
  • 14% start with a Cold Open, aka Hook. Ie some piece of interesting content from the middle of the video that's getting teased at the very beginning, even before the intro/title card.
  • 16% open normally. "hey guys, …"
  • 22% do use an intro/title card.
  • 43% don't have any sort of introduction whatsoever. No "hey guys", no animation, just actual content right from the beginning.

As for the length:

scr-2018-02-06 17_22_46.png

Note that basically all of these things are shorter than 5 seconds. Which, combined  lends itself to the conclusion that, in order to be successful, you don't need an intro, but if you have one, it must be short

* aside: that these ads are so long on average is due to the small sample size. Without the outlier, they'd be 7,25s.

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I am torn on intros. I know exactly what you are talking about smaller gaming channels using those pre-made, cookie-cutter intros. Always makes me cringe when I see them.

That said, sometimes an intro can resonate with me and it becomes a part of the expected viewing experience. One of the more popular film critique shows, the Nostalgia Critic, always tosses an intro in there somewhere. It's a part of the character in a way and without it I feel like the videos would be missing something.

I used to have an intro for my own content but over the last year and a half have stopped using it. I just get right into the video out of the gate and don't stop. I think it's better for my style of video that is already long to begin with. There's no sense in making the viewer (and potential subscriber) wait. I've even gone through a lot of older videos and chopped out the intros to them via YouTube's editing tool. Speaking of which, I know there are still a bunch out their with the intro.. I need to get back to cutting those out. Thanks for the reminder!

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The idea is to get the intro song stuck in your head so you think about the channel a lot

p.s i use an intro too, but not the standard template ones

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On 2/15/2018 at 10:58 PM, amackert said:

I am torn on intros. I know exactly what you are talking about smaller gaming channels using those pre-made, cookie-cutter intros. Always makes me cringe when I see them.

That said, sometimes an intro can resonate with me and it becomes a part of the expected viewing experience. One of the more popular film critique shows, the Nostalgia Critic, always tosses an intro in there somewhere. It's a part of the character in a way and without it I feel like the videos would be missing something.

I used to have an intro for my own content but over the last year and a half have stopped using it. I just get right into the video out of the gate and don't stop. I think it's better for my style of video that is already long to begin with. There's no sense in making the viewer (and potential subscriber) wait. I've even gone through a lot of older videos and chopped out the intros to them via YouTube's editing tool. Speaking of which, I know there are still a bunch out their with the intro.. I need to get back to cutting those out. Thanks for the reminder!

I'm not 100% convinced that the resonating with you is a difference maker. Questions I ask myself on this:

1. Would you just stop watching the content if there wasn't an intro?

2. Does the intro make the channel better? 

3. Does the intro make me a more loyal viewer?

Sure, there is a small chance an intro on some channels could feel natural and part of the overall experience. But... without it, you're still watching and love the content and host(s) for said content. All that intro really seems to do is "maybe, hopefully could possibly" be okay to some folks. But, there is a really high chance it's nothing but repetitive and bad for the overall experience, so why chance it?

I've never found a show that had an intro that I thought "wow, without this I'd never watch." But, I've seen plenty where I say "wow, this is awful, when is the content coming?" and click away. 

A fantastic intro is best summed up as "tolerated" and, overtime, could become "part of the experience" just like a poor Top 40 pop song becomes better as they continue to play it on the radio over and over again. You "get used to it", but if it never existed you'd probably be better off for it (and had more time on your hands for not having to deal with it).

 

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I feel that when people use premade intros the audience sours the moment they see it - anyone [I have seen] with a premade tends to have at least a few comments about it. Though, tbh, its really easy to make your own intro with any of the point-n-click programming engines, no one just ever seems to think of using them for that purpose.

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8 hours ago, Henry Makes said:

The idea is to get the intro song stuck in your head so you think about the channel a lot

p.s i use an intro too, but not the standard template ones

You know what I want to get stuck in people's head? "Wow, that was fantastic content, I want to see more!" -- no jingle will sell you better than your personality and overall value.

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18 hours ago, Henry Makes said:

i was explaining to the extent of what i know on this topic not supporting the catchy intros

@Henry Makes haha, yes--I often get the Big Bang Theory intro stuck in my head too. Granted, I'd watch it regardless, but Bare Naked Lady's have some great songs :)

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On 2/15/2018 at 7:27 PM, Leo Wattenberg said:

scr-2018-02-06 16_56_37.png

  • 22% do use an intro/title card.

So intro/title card like other regular intros, maybe more unique, but still the same ~5 second clip intro to their channel in every video, or by title, does this mean displaying the title of the video somehow?

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@AAAA title cards originally were these things:

 Spirit_43_-_Average_Donald_Duck_Title_ca

For online video, it refers to regular intros that show the channel name at some point. 

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On 3/30/2018 at 12:20 PM, Leo Wattenberg said:

@AAAA title cards originally were these thinqs:

For online video, it refers to regular intros that show the channel name at some point. 

Oh, thanks.

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@Unlimited Internet I'd advise strongly against it. In the worst case scenario, the owner of the anime may strike every video using the intro (so: every video) and/or drag you into a lengthy court case over it that puts your entire channel on the line. If you use the anime music in just one video, worst case is that you get one strike, and if you lose the court case, you'll at most have to delete one video. Not all of them. 

I'd only try to use something under fair use if it's a) absolutely necessary (an intro never is, as covered above), b) clearly fair use (which your intro usage isn't necessarily) and c) you're willing to defend your right in court. 

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