What is a corporate video

What is the real difference between film and video?

What is a video When do we speak of film? Is it about the recording technology? Or just about the final format? Or about the form and thus the question of whether or not a feature film? The distinction between these two technical terms originated in technology. It's different today.

The word video is Latin and means: I see. Of course, that alone is not the answer to your question, what is a video? This article will show you if there are any differences, and if so, what they are.

You have to know that

  • The question of what a video was used to be a fundamental one. Today, due to the technical development, the terms differ less and less in linguistic usage.
  • In the term film, however, something of Hollywood and the glamorous world of feature films still resonates today. Cinema films are usually still titled as films. At least until they are available online as a video.
  • Conversely, videos are rarely referred to as films on the Internet. The exception that confirms this rule are, for example, elaborately produced image videos that are upgraded to an image film.

What is a video

Up until the turn of the millennium, it was common to refer to high-quality works as “film” and productions that were made simpler as “videos”. The English word film (German: coating) comes from the early years of cinema, when film negatives made of nitrocellulose could be coated with a light-sensitive photo emulsion for the first time.

With the invention of video, for the first time a film was created technical alternative for recording moving images on negative material. There was no need to develop latent negatives in the laboratory. But that was just the beginning:

Videos stink. Movie is cool!

In the field of commissioned films, video was able to quickly gain its place due to the comparatively lower costs for film production. The video film therefore quickly became synonymous with commissioned films.

However, it is different with the image film. There, the question what is a video established itself. a dichotomy. Commissioned films for image advertising with high quality standards continued to be referred to as image films and were produced at the same level and with comparable means as feature films and advertising films, while simpler works with lower technical and content requirements were called image videos. Other genres, such as testimonial or CEO videos, are still only called video today.

In between there are conceptual headbirths such as video films. These don't make it easier to understand what a video is.

First the technical quality ...

Until the late nineties, the rule of thumb was that if you can afford it, you won't produce an inferior video.

Until the mid-1990s, video cameras provided a contrast range that was up to a factor of 40 (!) Smaller compared to recordings made on coated film material. The difference in quality was immediately noticeable.

That is why video producers were given a lower priority than film producers in the pecking order of the film industry. With the switch from analog video to digital video, that perception changed.

Films have a past. Videos have a future.
Ralph H. Baer, ​​1994

On the one hand, the physical film definitely disappeared from the manufacturing process. Until less than 10 years ago, it was common practice to turn works that had to meet the highest standards on coated polyester (see above, note on the contrast range) and then, after development, to digitize them for further processing. For projection in the cinemas (which, unlike today, was still done in the classic way using a film projector), the video tape was then exposed to physical film again in the laboratory.

On the other hand, increasingly powerful chips in video cameras also forced established camera manufacturers such as ARRI to switch completely to the new, better technologies. This together with new players in the field of camera hardware, for example RED. All of a sudden, cinema films could now be produced entirely digitally.

The feature films in the cinema thus became videos from a technical point of view. The use of the two words to distinguish the radiance and the aspect what is a video? Like the calls for differentiation, it had become pointless. Both were suddenly the same.

... then suddenly the content counts again!

Interestingly, however, the terms of the investigation, what is a video, have been increasingly diverging since 2014. But this time not because of the technical differences. But driven by their content characteristics (new German: by the content).

This is because of the ever larger and ever easier availability of more and more videos. The Action Cam is also partly responsible for the fact that videos again have less to report than they once did.

Both clients, but also filmmakers and video producers, are now reloading their works with different meanings.

Content is king. Distribution is queen.

Different values ​​from the viewer's point of view

Today, users and viewers differentiate between the question, "What is a video?", As follows:

  • Videos are filmed on the fly by video journalists.
  • Films, on the other hand, are consciously staged and have the potential to become art.
  • Video productions are made by small crews with a deep division of labor.
  • Video makers are moving image craftsmen (and often also cameraman and producer in personal union).
  • Film directors are talents who, with a large crew, make a movie unique and unmistakable.
  • Videos are available for free on YouTube. Calls are possible at any time via any device.
  • Feature films are in a league of their own. To see them I have to buy a ticket. Or I have to pay on payment platforms like Netflix, Zulu, iTunes or Google Play. Because: entertainment is not free.

Again what is a video?

As is well known, mass media have given way to mass media. On smartphones, tablets, at the POS and on the Internet, the consumer is literally flooded with moving images. This is how the storytelling trends appear in practice. Better television as a promise. New on all channels, not just on TV.

The attention duration is just now 8 seconds. 3 seconds more than pre-roll clips in online advertising on YouTube, 2 seconds less than the memory of a goldfish ...

If it is not possible to generate attention and motivation to look further in these 8 seconds, the viewer is gone. Regardless of what is a video?

It should therefore be extremely exciting to see how individual publishing houses want to survive in the battle for attention without ultimately not having to copy the extremely cost-intensive editorial and production processes of television broadcasters. Especially since their implementation can then to a certain extent ensure the quality of the effect. At the same time, however, this often prevents the flexibility required to keep pace with the rapid developments in online video communication.

What does that mean for the answer, what a video is? Quite simply: the two types will again differ more in the future.

The definition of video

Wikipedia defines video as a film that has been loaded onto a magnetic tape or data carrier.

According to this definition, everything that is loaded on YouTube channels, regardless of the duration, whether VLog or with a fictional character, would be a film and at the same time a video. This may be one of the reasons that this article (as of April 2015) on “What is a video” is currently marked on Wikipedia for “disambiguation”. It is correct to permanently omit the distribution from the definition in the article; users correctly note this in the source text.

In the long run one can ignore in connection with "what is a video?" also the aspect of how a moving image production is processed. The same applies to the navigation and the difference whether calls and calls are made when viewing or before. Likewise, which medium you choose for the distribution. Because today these processes are all digitally carried out. Codes and source code don't matter. Moving pictures are not books that can be classified with an ISBN number.

But what is a video? The honest answer of what a video is:

  • Out technical Today it is the same as a filmed production.
  • With reference to the content the designation is a matter of value.

Film is a more valuable term. A brand loaded with a higher value. Who would want to watch a video in the cinema and pay a ticket for it?

A video is less likely to have high production values, even among professionals. Conversely, cats are almost always used in connection with YouTubevideos, not from catsfilm. Other genres use both types of designation without affecting the reputation. Is a weddingVideo qualitatively better than a weddingMovie? Probably not.


The technical synchronization of the production processes is not only a great opportunity to clarify “what is a video”. But only if we reflect on what the role of moving images in marketing and communication is in the long run. To create an impact.

Regardless of how you want to name the child and regardless of what a video is: Both terms are only used to differentiate the attractiveness of the content.

The commissioned film can learn a lot from the feature film here. Feature films have always been content-driven. Where technology is or was decisive in a feature film (digital effects, etc.), it has always served a larger whole: the transport of the plot and the enhancement of the effect.

Wherever things change rapidly, it is not only important to determine what changes and how. But also the one after what remains.