In our last two class meetings of this semester, I’d like to celebrate the work that all of you have done. Here’s how you can help.
You’ve read a lot of pieces composed by your classmates this semester. I’d like you to identify two favorite posts/pieces:
- One post which you admire for its quality of prose, for particular sentences or paragraphs that the author has crafted;
- One post which you admire for how the writer has moved beyond writing—has done something on screen that you can’t do on the page.
(You will note that I am returning here to the idea of affordances which I began the term by talking about. What can you do in writing? What can you do beyond writing?)
But here is the kicker: You cannot simply reference an entire post. You must select and quote: a sentence or two from a post, or few seconds from a video or audio file, or a particularly effective use of images or links or formatting. In any case, you have to quote from within a post, not simply refer to it.
Explain what you like and admire about these two moments in two pieces. While I hope for critical insight, I also aim for celebration.
I’ll ask each of you to briefly present your favorites to the class. I’ll project your post; you’ll talk for about two minutes. This should be fun!
Deadline: Tues, 5/09, 10 00 am
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.
Page and Screen
In groups, draw on your most recent post to create some notes on:
- A taxonomy: What are some popular forms for the 60 Second Video?
- Affordances and constraints: What can you “leverage and resist” in video that seems different from writing?
- The experience of composing in video: What was fun? frustrating? challenging? satisfying?
- Mon, 4/03, class: Read Ronson to p.157. A response will be due on Thurs, 4/06.
- Have a great break!
When we were told we would be creating a video, I automatically knew it would take more time and thought than just writing down my thoughts. I had to reflect on what is a part of my life that I would like to share with others.
Each classmate’s topic may have been selected because the student came across the idea, felt it was what the assignment required or was an idea they could relate to. By having a connection to the piece, it will most likely be a stronger final product. The personal element was shown in Elyssa and Isabella’s videos because they shared something they enjoy. This can’t always be shown through text because the viewer can’t visualize the emotions that the author is feeling.
With these emotions, comes tone. The tone of a piece can create a humorous video like Will’s or more serious like Jessica’s. Their ideas were both able to be conveyed to the viewer but with images and video the tone couldn’t be interpreted differently by various audiences. If these pieces were only written the message of humor is more easily lost. Seriousness can be conveyed through text but with the help of the images, the point was stronger.
In these pieces, still and moving images were typically accompanied by an audio file. This audio is the written text and description of the topic. These videos and other videos don’t typically have the script also written on the screen. With the combination of words and images, it may be hard to separate the two. If the text was presented on the screen like Peter’s was vs. how many of the others were, it is hard to focus on both elements at one time. The audio may distract from the video or the images become attached to the audio. I find myself associating the images with the audio and not being able to isolate them.
Each video has its affordances and constraints, but finding the right medium to use digitally to portray the desired message is the skill we are trying to acquire.
We use language and communication to express ideas. When interacting with others, context of the interaction determines the medium and method of communication. When I meet someone for the first time in the flesh, I don’t write out a greeting on a piece of paper and then hand it to the confused and concerned looking recipient. So when I consider whether video or written text is more appropriate, I consider how the affordances and constraints of each impact my ability to communicate effectively.
In some situations, written text is clearly appropriate such as in a formal communication with a business colleague. Video is strictly necessary for television shows: reading the script would not be as effective as watching. So which aspects of these two mediums determine their value?
Written correspondence allows the reader to absorb information by choice: the reader can choose which words to read and the pace to read them. Video forces reader attention more strictly than writing. If I don’t have the option to pause the video, I am forced to take in information at a set pace which I might find too fast or too slow. But even having control of the video cannot be enough. Amanda makes sure that each paper she shows in her video has enough screen time to be read. But video can sometimes convey information to rapidly causing confusion or too slowly, causing boredom. Writing can have this issue as well, but it is easier to slow or hasten our consumption of writing than it is for video.
Video impacts a greater number of senses as it is both visual and auditory. The nature of the visuals is also different as instead of imagining what a character in a story looks like, I can see them clearly on my screen. If I write the lyrics to a song I will have no idea what the cadence, pronunciation, background music, or feel of the song is. If I watch a music video, I can perfectly understand all of these aspects. Video can clearly establish tone to the audience whereas writing can be more subjective. James’ video simply wouldn’t work in a written format as he uses visual comedy that only video can convey his message effectively to the audience. Sure he could write out a step by step guide, but that wouldn’t have the same emotional impact on the audience as say a shot of him eating Pringles while holding a heap of snacks. Video can create deeper expression through greater sensory communication.
Specificity and Imagination
If I look at a video of the Grand Canyon with someone, I have shared that sight with them. If I read the same novel as someone else, it is more likely that we will have differing conceptions of characters’ appearances or the way events in the book unfolded. Imagination in the reader leads to differing understanding: what the writer meant may not always get to the reader. A ‘how to’ explanation in written form is less specific than a video in that it can be more widely interpreted. I can imagine the physical process of how to get dressed in the morning based on a written explanation. But when I watch Isabella’s video on how she chooses what to wear, I can see the exact process she is describing and my impact as the audience in changing or altering her message through my imagination lessens. Video often offers greater specificity of information while writing leads to deeper imaginative process.
Choosing the medium varies by context. Writing is more useful in some circumstances, while in other cases video is the superior modality. Understanding the technical limitations and affordances of each medium helps us to decide the best way to communicate effectively.
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.
What can you, as a student in this course, do in working with video that you can’t do in a written text? Conversely, what kinds of things is it hard to do with video that you can do more readily in writing? Affordances and constraints. Video and print. I’d like you to think about the relationship between these two modalities using the Concepts in 60 videos posted to this site.
Let me make an arbitrary rule: You should refer in your post to at least three Concept in 60 videos. Your goal should not be to evaluate these pieces, to say what you especially liked or didn’t, but to note what the medium of video seems to encourage authors to do and what it seems to constrain them from doing.
Deadline: Thurs, 3/23, 10:00 am. I’m eager to read your thoughts on this issue!