Communicating UX Through Video: 2. Concepting

While last week’s installment showed examples of designers using video as a tool for prototyping new products and services, this installment will begin to look at the way designers are using video to tell stories. The examples below will show designers using the most basic video production tools with a little creativity to create compelling scenarios. We will also look at how larger companies are using professionally made video to tell stories about their own concepts.


Aurora is a concept video created by Adaptive Path for Mozilla Labs that sets out to “define a plausible vision of how technology, the browser, and the Web might evolve inthe future by depicting that experience in a variety of real-world contexts.” This video succeeds at both dazzling you with new interface concepts and giving you believable scenarios about how people will actually use it. While the detailed interfaces and the well thought out storytelling give it a more professional feel than any of the video prototypes we saw, the production is still low budget and not beyond the skills or tools of most digital designers.

Nokia Morph

While the Aurora concept video focuses more on context than it does on glossy production, many go the route of this Nokia video. They place a large emphasis on technology and product features but are thin on storytelling and context. They also spend a lot of money and effort ensuring the final video (or animation in this case) is of superior quality. In Nokia Morph, we see a super advanced mobile device built with nanotechnology, but the best thing it can do is…. clean itself?

Participatory Sensing

This video was created by the Center for Embedded Network Sensing (CENS), a group very much focused on technology, but they do an excellent job exploring the benefits of such technology by using video as a storytelling tool. Admittedly, the opening dialogue and the voiceover throughout give the whole thing a sort of infomercial vibe.

Apple Knowledge Navigator

Knowledge Navigator by Apple is a classic and probably has the highest production quality of all the videos we have seen so far. It’s great to see older examples like this because they make you consider what is the point of these videos… are they discussions points for the here and now? Attempts to predict the future? Marketing gimmicks? Should they be like classic movies that tell universal stories or are they destined to become outdated and irrelevant?

GreenHouse CPH

Green House CPH, another student project at CIID, is an example of how designers can exploit different filmmaking techniques. Because this video has to be done fast, had to tell a story, and had to demonstrate a service with all its’ touch points, the students decided to do it documentary style and they found several benefits for doing it this way. They could be forgiven for having a video that was technically rough around the edges (shaky camera, lots of cuts, etc.) because that’s how documentaries often are. And since since the designers themselves were acting in their own video, it was easy to stand in front of a camera and explain how it works. Finally, by setting it in the future when they service had already been launched, they could demonstrate how the service works in a more believable context. In the end, they presented it as a “mock user-research study” which made sense to their audience of designers.

Adam Little

Adam Little is an interaction designer who enjoys human centered design in collaborative, multicultural and cross disciplinary teams. He is Pilot Year student at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design where they apply technology to people’s everyday lives by prototyping new ideas for products, services and software.

6 comments on this article

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  3. Erki Esken on

    I love this series on different video types to show prototypes/concepts. Keep going on with the theme please 🙂

  4. Adam,

    These examples are really good. I especially like the documentary style video for Greenhouse CPH. What would really interest me is how much budget/time is needed to create these kind of videos… could you enlighten us?

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  6. Adam on

    in the case of Green House CPH, the whole thing was shot and edited in about 4 days. this included at least a full day building the web and mobile phone interfaces you see throughout.
    what looks like a website is actually just a series of JPGs.

    the other videos appear to be the result of professional video producers, so it’s hard to say how much time or money.