Expression in Text vs Expression in Video

I know I am not speaking for myself when I say that I’ve always been more attracted to video and visuals than reading text. It is in the way us digital natives are wired – to want to learn and engage in something visual. When I am confronted with text such as an article or reading a textbook for a class I catch myself skimming through and only reading things that seem important like titles or captions to pictures.

Therefore, I really enjoyed the assignment of Concept in 60 because the visual and audio components added so much more depth to a concept that would have been harder to describe via text.

On the other hand, when it comes to reading and writing the mind has a lot more room for imagination which is sometimes hard for an author who wants to portray a specific idea. Whereas in video there isn’t a lot left for the imagination. For example, if Ashley’s video had not incorporated herself drawing with her explanation of what art meant to her – the viewer would not have known what type of art or expression of art she was particularly immersed in.

Video can express an idea or story with just images and music because that creates tone. Text can also express a certain idea or certain idea with the use of tone but it takes a lot more work for the reader and the writer. An example of these affordances of video is Graham’s video which relies solely on the use of music and filters instead of explaining his concept with audio. The viewer still grasps what Graham is portraying because of the tone he creates with music and his own expressions.

Another example of a video that would not have relayed the same message if it had been solely confined to text is Sam’s video on “How to make an entrance.” The humor within this video would not have been interpreted the same way through description within text because everything from the music to his own facial expressions and body language altogether in the moment came together to create a humorous tone for the viewer.

Sometimes text is easier because it comes to you just as your thoughts are flowing but this may be a constraint when you have a particular message in mind. It can be easy for text to paint a picture with description but if that picture is already given to the viewer there is no room for misinterpretation.

Video vs. Text

I thought using video last week rather than text was a unique experience. I had to take a different approach than I usually do to the video assignment. When I started, I was concerned about how I was going to fill up the minute. By the end of the project, I had to edit a lot out that I wanted to say. In general, I found it harder to communicate what I wanted to say using a video compared to just typing.

When you are typing in a document, you can pour your thoughts onto the page in a moment. If you were to add a video, sound clip, picture, or song to your video to make your point you would need to put in more effort. Taking your ideas and transferring them onto a media platform requires interpretation and editing. However, when you express your idea with a video rather than a block of text you can do so much more with it. Using a video media editor, you can add music, subtitles, transitions, voiceovers, video and so much more. You can create a project with more bells and whistles. This medium is not for everyone though, because if you are not competent using a video editor than the quality of your message suffers. If you were to use a more traditional medium such as a word document, there’s an opportunity to construct a more effective argument.

One aspect of video that makes it so great is the voiceover feature. Many people utilized it in their Concept 60 videos. I thought James’ “How to Properly Watch a Movie at Home” demonstrated this well. His video had action on the screen to follow plus props, so the guidance and the clarification that the James’ voiceover added was vital. I found this useful in my window as well. My Concept 60 video was a step-by-step origami project, so I found voiceover helpful when I was demonstrating folding on camera. That way the video could be concentrated on my hands so the steps would be easier to follow. If James and I did this assignment on a word document, the quality of the overall presentation would go way down. The ideas we were trying to get across would have no examples or directions that were not typed out. While the assignment would be doable, it would still be less effective. The block of text would have to be long just to explain the steps that we could have just shown in the video.

Mackenzie’s video also used tools to help her idea come across better. Her use of pictures steered her concept. They were not stock photos, rather personal pictures. I thought this made her video more effective. The personal touch made the video seem genuine, so if someone watches it who has a prejudice against RAs they might be more likely to listen. In the same way, I thought Ashley M’s use of close-up in her video gave hers an authenticity. The video was simple, but it gave the audience the opportunity to watch her art firsthand. Watching her draw was all the video needed to get her concept across.

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.

The Options Video Expressions Bring To The Table

The medium of film and video is an extraordinary one. Since its inception over a century ago it has dazzled and wowed viewers with each and every improvement and advancement made, from color, to sound, to computer generated effects, to motion capture technology. And with each new and exciting step the world of video making makes, new and exciting forms of expression continue to grow and present new opportunity for illustration. Conversely, we are writing the same exact way people have been writing since Charles Dickens and far earlier than him. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it is clear that there are only certain ways to express ones self through writing, which is fine. But video and film just opens so many different doors, a number of which are growing by the day.

Many of these forms of expression could be seen in the Concept in 60 videos created for class. One of these ways is emotion. There is a certain flare and excitement that can be seen but not necessarily read. Personally, having been on both the viewing and creative end of it, feel that is evident in my Concept in 60. In my video I show my love and excitement surrounding film and, specifically, the Star Wars films. While I could write how much I love the movies, I instead bring out some of my Star Wars merchandise and paraphernalia, which is a clear and vivid expression of my feelings. If I wrote down all the reasons I love movies and wrote about the collectibles I own it would not be nearly as impactful at showing my emotions as the visual media is.

Splintering off of the idea of emotion is personal connection. There are situations where writing can get an idea across, but the reader on their own with just words does not feel the overall impact intended. I look at a video like Mackenzie’s “What is an RA?” where she reads a written passage explaining this idea while also including pictures of herself and others that coincide with the words being spoken, and I feel that extra charge of personal connectivity. As the old mantra goes, “seeing is believing”, and by seeing what Mackenzie is referring to directly makes the whole message all the more real and impactful. Those same words she spoke could have been posted just as these ones are, and they still would have been great, but the pictures along with it takes the message to the next level.

Another way that video is a helpful medium is in its ability to illustrate abstract concepts. Here, I think of Graham’s video, which is of the same footage being edited and contributed to in different ways to give off notable different feelings or ideas. This concept just flat out could not be done justice through writing, as it is all about the abstract concept of point of view and interpretation. Videos like this allow for indulgence in ways that were never considered before films inception.

All these forms of video making are not to discount writing as a worthy and powerful art form, because it certainly is one. But there is something about the freedom and unique options present in video format that makes it such an expressive and wonderful way to say whatever is on a persons mind.

To Use Video, or Not to Use Video?

When working with video, there were a couple things I realized I could do with it that I couldn’t do with written text. The first thing, and the most obvious, is that you can speak and use sound. This helps the viewers understand the tone, mood, and message more clearly than if they were reading the same dialogue as written text. For example, humor can be hard to pick up on when you’re reading, but it something very obvious when used in video (whether from an actor or voiceover). James and Alex both used humor in their videos, and it was easy to pick up on and enjoy. However, if I was reading what they were saying, I’m not sure if I would have had the same reaction. Another thing you can do with video is include pictures/images to support your point. While you can have pictures in text, the effect in a video is different. Showing pictures with a voiceover attached or having them pop up in the corner while an actor is speaking creates a different reaction than putting a picture next to the text in a written work. Visually seeing an image and hearing dialogue helps portray the feelings and emotions the creator of the video wants you to feel or understand. In Jessica’s video, pictures, along with video clips, are used to help viewers understand the power and relevance behind the concept she is speaking about. This covers an area that cannot be achieved in a written work.

While there are a lot of aspects of working with video that can support your point, there are also some that make it more difficult. Personally, I had a hard time conveying my message in video format, especially with a time constraint. I find it a lot easier to write about my thoughts rather than speak about them. I feel that there is a lot more power behind my written words than there is behind my spoken ones. It is also easier to edit when you write something. Every time I messed something up while creating my voiceover, I had to go back and start all over again. Additionally, editing the video drove me crazy. If being a digital native means I’m supposed to be good at this sort of stuff, I am definitely not a digital native. Editing took me a long time to complete, and when I finished I was still not satisfied with it. Video editing is a tough skill to perfect. Since I don’t have that skill, I feel like it took away from my concept because the video was not as great as it could have been.

The Pros and Cons of Using Video

After completing the “Concept in 60” project, as well as watching the other videos posted by classmates, I feel confident in discussing both the affordances, as well as the limitations to using videos. Moreover, there are things that you can do with video that you cannot do with print. Overall, one major advantage of using video to explain a concept is that you receive both an audio, as well as an augmented visual aspect that you cannot receive while reading printed material. Speaking generally, this enables those who are better auditory or visual learners to better understand the concept being described. More specifically, an affordance of video is that one can create a photo montage where audio is overlaid on top of the pictures. In Mackenzie’s video about what it means to be an RA, for example, she utilizes a photo montage to enhance the explanation of her concept and to get her point across to the viewer. In addition, another benefit of using video instead of print is that it is easier to make a point, while also using comedy to do it. In James’s video, for example, he uses comedy to state that one’s environment and they way in which one watches a movie can change one’s viewing experience. In his video, James uses both audio, as well as props and subtle mannerisms to give his concept a comedic undertone. While reading print, it is a lot more difficult to provide the subtle sort of comedy that you can with video. As someone who loves comedy, I can tell you that sometimes what is funny is not necessarily in the joke itself, but rather it is in the delivery, or the way on which the joke is told, and also in the body language of the person telling the joke. Therefore, video allows one to more easily convey something in a comedic manner. Finally, another advantage of vide over print is that with video, you don’t necessarily have to say anything at all to get a statement across to the viewer. In Graham’s video, for example, he does not say a single word, and yet I am able to understand the point that he is trying to make. With print, something has to be said, using words on a page.

Just as there are affordances to video, there also exist limitations. One possible disadvantage of using video is that it perhaps discourages visual imagination on the part of the viewer. Again, video provides the visual for us. With print, we as readers are tasked with having to imagine what is happening, and we create our own mental image. Another limitation of using video is that it can take a lot of time and resources to create a really professional-looking video. My video would be the perfect example of what happens when one does not have the time or resources of say, someone like James Cameron or Martin Scorsese. Finally, another drawback to video is the fact that one can run into trouble with copyright when it comes to using others’ video/photographs/music. For as much content that is actually labeled for reuse, there has to be at least fifty times as much content that is not.

In conclusion, I thought of a few categories that the videos from class can be put into. One would be “How To” videos vs. simple explanation of what something is. Another would be when someone uses a voiceover vs. when someone acts in a video. Then there are videos that use stock footage or photos and those that use original footage or photos. And finally, there are videos that are montages, there are those that are live-action, and those that consist of cartoons or drawings.