The Most Important Tip from Apple’s ‘Gushy’ Harris Family Holiday Videos

I’m not a fan of Apple’s Holiday TV ad “Misunderstood” or its two-minute companion YouTube piece that is the full-length cut of the Harris family holiday movie created by the teenage boy. Why? It’s too over-the-top gushy for me, but then again, I’m a manly man with whiskers and a cold steel gaze.

The two videos do, however, contain a powerful little iPhone movie-making tip, one that I accidentally learned this summer when I was playing around with the trailer-making feature of iMovie.

And what is that tip?

Take some footage you might not think is all that cool, and just do it via interesting angles and closeups. Why? When you splice a little event movie together, it provides an intimacy and feeling you might not have expected or imagined. Plus, these little closeups and angle shots provide great mood and transitional elements.

Case in point?

Early into the “A Harris family holiday” clip on YouTube, we’re treated to a closeup of a string of holiday lights. Not only is the closeup visually interesting and offers contrast against the people and people action, it turns out that holiday — a.k.a. Christmas — lights can evoke memory and emotion. Nice.

This is shortly followed up with a closeup of a kid swinging little kid legs in snow pants and snow boots on a bench in a home, presumably near a door, likely getting ready to go outside and play in the snow. This shot could easily have been taken from several feet away to include the kid’s face and whole body, but by focusing on the boots, we get something more powerful — the anticipation, the waiting energy of child anxious to be turned loose.

So, I think this tip is important enough to share . . . even while I dislike the undercurrent that’s going on in the “Misunderstood” ad: That it’s ok for a kid to keep his face glued to an iPhone and not engage with his family face-to-face during the holidays. If the boy can’t connect due to some medical diagnosis, I get that . . . but for most teenagers (and adults) being glued to an iPhone screen while everyone else is engaging one another just isn’t cool. I get the trope for the purposes of the ad’s story, just not the all-too-true reality I see with heads bent down and locked onto smartphone screens while the world around keeps spinning.

Still, remember: Shoot closeups, angles, and short bits of items you think might not matter. They will.

About the author

Chris Maxcer

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I've been writing about the tech industry since the birth of the email newsletter, and I still remember the clacking Mac keyboards from high school -- Apple's seed-planting strategy at work. I'm a big fan of elegant gear and sublime tech, but there's something to be said for turning it all off -- or most of it -- to go outside. Online I like to call out cool stuff on Wicked Cool Bite, share Apple-focused opinions on TechNewsWorld, and blog with my buddies at Man Makes Fire. For something different, check out If They Mistake the Moon for the Sun. To catch me, take a "firstnamelastname" guess at the url of this site.