Mannequin Challenge Videos : 6 Tips To Get Them Right

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Mannequin Challenge videos have hit the internet like a viral storm! Every small group out there in the internet is now doing a Mannequin Challenge video featuring their workplace, hangout with friends or even a regular family get together. There are 2 things that makes Mannequin Challenge videos viral:

1. It’s Almost Zero Effort: Yes! The best qualification for you to be part of a Mannequin Challenge, interestingly, is the ability to do nothing. No other viral challenges have been so easy to ‘perform’ (don’t even compare it with the Ice Bucket challenge!). All you need to do is decide a pose and stick onto it when the camera pans on you.

2. It Actually Works: Like it or not, panning a video camera around absolutely still people do give the feeling of having a lot of mannequins around. This is enhanced by the way the videographer treats each still person in the scene. We will get to that soon.

So next time you’ve got a gathering and want to do something fun, easy and cheap – Mannequin Challenge video is the way to go! Now let’s look at some important tips on how to get it right:

1. Get your location to freeze

Anything and everything you capture on the Mannequin Challenge video has to be still. For example – if you are planning to do a Mannequin Challenge with a lot of people walking behind like a busy street – not a great idea. Reason is simple – the viewer wants to get the feel of the scene getting frozen and anything that moves in the scene would be annoying – be it a TV screen playing some cartoon, your pet wagging its tail or even a paper flying around. So choose a location where you can get everyone and everything to freeze. If you get a big crowd to freeze, nothing better than that. More the people involved, merrier it is! That’s why some of the best Mannequin Challenge videos feature a lot of people.

2. A Mannequin at a time

Even if you have 3-4 people who could be covered in a shot, try not to do that. Always pick one person or a close group engaging in an activity in a frame, pan very close to them and then move slowly to the next person. This approach makes the shoot look continuous and also builds an anticipation – “Now that this mannequin is done, what crazy pose would the next one be sporting?”. This makes the video engaging. Summing that up – don’t pick a long shot featuring all the mannequins in the beginning. Start one by one and once you cover all of them, you could zoom out to give a summary shot of the location.

3. Cues for your actors

An average Mannequin video duration is anywhere between 40 secs to 80 secs. Now it’s not right to expect your actors to stay still all this while, especially if they are still on a weird or difficult pose. Remember, you can’t even blink your eye when you are shot. Here’s where the videographer could help everyone. Shout out a cue when you are reaching a specific person or group so that they remain prepared for the shot. Since the video would mostly be covering a person or small group at a time (refer to the tip above) – you don’t need everyone still all the time. They just need to be still when the camera covers them. And the videographer can shout out as many instructions as he or she needs since we would anyways be cutting the audio channel and adding a nice music for the video.

4. Be creative with poses

Try to get as creative as possible with your mannequin pose. One way is to do something very difficult or freeze in a pose as if you are captured while in the middle of something. For example – holding onto the basketball ring as if you just did a slam dunk or holding a bar with weights lying on a bench press as if you are in the middle of a workout etc. You can also get creative by freezing in poses where one or two people together on a frame would help the audience make some sense about the situation – eg. an arm wresting match in action!

5. Stitch some good music

Mannequin Challenge got popular with the track ‘Black Beatles’ by Rae Sremmurd. But if you plan to download a copy of this music or a close variant of it, edit it with the video and upload on YouTube – there is a good probability that YouTube detects copyright material on your video and deems it unplayable on certain screens (eg. it would not work on Mobile). You can get around it by following the instructions here or decide to use a free song from YouTube’s audio library. Please note that you should completely do away with the original audio of the recorded video. That way, the videographer can help you all with better cues (refer to the tip no. 3).

6. Give your audience some context

A Mannequin Challenge featuring Michelle Obama or Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t need any specific context building. But if you are planning to do a creative Mannequin Challenge video with your friends and hope that it goes viral, you will want to tell your audience who you are or where you are shooting. That gives some context for the audience. Use an easy overlay graphics tool like Typito to do this finishing touch.

Here’s a Mannequin Challenge video that we shot in a startup incubator in India where we feature along with other startups in the incubator. As you can see, the context building helps the audience get a good grip of when, where and who of the video in general. Comment below if you can find the 2 parts in the videos where our mannequins got vulnerable ;-).

Note – Give credits to your videographer. The guy who shoots the video and unfortunately doesn’t feature on it – he’s the one who has the most difficult job in a Mannequin Challenge. So go ahead and show some love for the video guy by giving him credits on the video description or tag him when you share the video on social networks. Definitely a great gesture!

Hope you liked the tips shared here. Now go creative and do a Mannequin Challenge video with your mates this coming holiday season!

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