MP4 vs .docx

I work with video a lot. Like, a lot a lot. And video is especially good for two things: it’s raw, and it’s guided. When you watch film (sorry animation) you’re watching something that actually happened and listening to words that we actually said. You don’t need to use your own internal monologue and reading voice because someone else is doing it for you. This raw-ness helps convey something to the audience the written words cannot. (Note: I’m not talking about unrehearsed video. I’m comparing written text to acted out film). There’s an extra step that goes from hearing someone speak, to looking at the ” mark on a page and thinking “oh, ok, that means the following words are being said out-loud by the indicated character”. Another example in an essay rather than fiction would be quoting another work. On the page a quote from another text is just words in a quote. But on video, you can actually use another video, like Peter did by showing Filthy Frank. The only text equivalent would be cutting a page out of a book and taping it on your essay, I guess.

The guided-ness of video works both in the realm of humor, and subtlety. Take for example Sam’s video about making an entrance. It used timing as part of its humor. Timing is a key aspect to building up a punchline with anticipation and breaking the audience’s expectations. Humor like this cannot be done in written form because it relies on an actor or comedian’s performance. Reading is a personal experience where you read at your own pace, where as film is guided, and things happen exactly when the director wants them to.

I’m going to use James’ video to make a more abstract point about subtlety. I could go in depth on this but I’ll try to keep it simple: let’s say that in order for a story to make sense, let’s say for a twist ending, the audience has to know that there’s a gun in the house. But they can’t stop and think about the gun because then they might figure out the twist before it happens. In a film, the scene can be constructed so that two characters are talking and you happen to see a gun on the table. The viewer thinks nothing of it and are genuinely impressed by the twist in the end. A written piece can’t do this as well as film. It would have to stop the action or the dialogue in order to point out to the reader that there is a gun, which would stick out like a sore thumb and make the reader suspicious that it will be important later. James’ video utilizes Star Wars in this way. The video is about watching movies, and nothing in the narration mentions Star Wars, but the video shows James wearing a Jedi robe, holding a lightsaber, putting in a Star Wars Bluray, and so on. This conveys to us, without flat out telling us, that James has really good tastes in movies and that I’m jealous of his box set of the complete Star Wars saga on blueray. It also forms a running gag that could not be done in text without being interrupting.

So what can video do that text can’t? It can guide the audience along a set path, unlike text, which is dependent on the reader. It can show things actually happening instead of the audience having to translate words on a page to sounds or visuals in their head. It can do multiple things at once using visuals and sound, where as text can literally do things only one word at a time. But text has its advantages too. It’s a lot easier to write something than to film something. There is no bad acting when you’re reading dialogue in your head, and if you blink you wont’ miss something important. Things in videos can seem out of place, like the sound clashing with the visuals in a messy way that takes you out of the experiance. In text this can only really be done with typos, like when I misplaced the ‘ in “won’t” 3 lines up or spelt “experience” wrong in the last sentence, or said spelt instead of spelled in this one. Beyond that, there are no bad special effects or too-quiet dialogue in text. In short: video can do more but text is easier and harder to mess up.


Author: Devon I

UD student, Junior English major.

4 thoughts on “MP4 vs .docx”

  1. I agree with you that watching video is far easier as a viewer to interpret what is happening. Of course, some people might disagree and say that they prefer reading because you have the ability to more easily go backwards and reread something you may have missed. However, for me personally, I like video because as you mention, there is no internal dialogue repeating what one is trying to take in from a page. When I read, I sometimes become distracted by the sound of my own voice in my head reading the text.


  2. I think you bring up some great comparisons. Something that especially stuck out to me was how you used James’ video to explain a point about subtlety. I never thought about that before, but now I see how it really affects the suspense of a work, whether filmed or written. Also, I think you did a nice job of showing the difference between the messiness of a written work versus a film. Misspelled words definitely take away from the experience of reading, and I think it was clever how you showed that!


  3. I think you make a good point here about ideas that you simply cannot express over text. Sometimes things someone is trying to express may be outlandish or unique in nature to the point where only a visual will do to express them. I think everyone’s assignments would have been so much longer than our previous posts if this assignment was one we had to type. There is a lot more explanation involved in describing a concept than trying to get down your ideas. Some material can’t be just written in a block of text because the quality of the message will go down.


  4. Devon, This is a terrific argument for the subtlety and range of video—made in a nuanced and subtle written text! You’ve really hit your stride in this course! (BTW, I’ve heard the “gun on the table” described as a “McGuffin” by writers on drama and film. Some love it; others feel that it tends to become clumsy rather than subtle.) ~Joe


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