Visual Rhetoric—alaska

0.01 The video starts with what we assume to be a family of four walking down the sidewalk that has cars parked along the side. Its looks to be a big neighborhood. All four of them a looking down at their phones. The boy has earphones in and so does the girl. None of them are talking to each other; they are all quiet and in their our world.

0.04 The women stops and points to something off screen while the camera zooms in onto her phone. The screen shows a website for discovering a park or forest near you.

0.06 They resume walking and the camera focuses on the little girl. She looks so surprised and begins to take out her earphones. The background looks to be some sort of park. It has a park sign in the back and many trees.

0.07 The camera angle changes to all of the family and shows them walking towards a pond or a lake. The parents are holding hands and the kids are a little bit in front of the parents but are also on either side of them.

0.09 The camera zooms in onto the little girl again. She is crouching down towards the lake looking at her reflection in the water.

0.11 The little girl starts to make funny faces into the water. Sticking her tongue out and closing her eyes.

0.12 The next scene is of the kids crouching down on rocks across from each other while a little stream of water goes in between them. They have sticks and they are playing with the water. The area around them is very tall grass and looks a bit cornered or sectioned off. The screen then says streaming.

0.15 The camera shows the father pointing at something offscreen showing his daughter. They both look very happy. The camera shows a black bird with an orange and white wing on a tree branch. The screen then says tweet.

0.18 The little boy is crouched down looking at the ground that has a pile of leaves and sticks. He then moves a leaf and it shows a close up of a snail. The screen then says search results.

0.22 The little boy picks up the snail and shows his family. They all seem so happy and surprised.

0.23 The little boy then starts to swing his sister around by holding her hands and her flying off the ground.

0.25 The family is walking towards the camera while the mom goes and grabs the little girl by the shoulders and gives her a little hug while the father and the son laugh. The screen then says connected.

0.27 The screen shows the family walking away from the camera in an open field and the screen says find a great local park or forest.


2 thoughts on “Visual Rhetoric—alaska”

  1. Alaska, I have never watched this video (though I can guess something about it from the onscreen title, which would NOT appear on screen if this ad ran on TV or any other platform, and therefore would NOT be part of the filmmaker’s intentions), so I’m just going to guess from what I see in the first second of the visual and see how well it coincides with your observations. I think you could have said more.

    YOUR NOTES AT 0:01 : The video starts with what we assume to be a family of four walking down the sidewalk that has cars parked along the side. Its looks to be a big neighborhood. All four of them [are] looking down at their phones. The boy has earphones in and so does the girl. None of them are talking to each other; they are all quiet and in their [own] world.

    I’ve left these same notes as a comment on jonhjelly’s post, since s/he wrote a first draft of the same video shortly before you posted yours.

    —You have concluded that the group is likely a family.
    —We certainly don’t know that, but it seems to be a reasonable conclusion. The filmmaker most likely selected this group for its ability to project a typical two-parent family group of similar ethnicity and the “appropriate” ages.
    —I appreciate that you intend to be color-blind in not indicating that the actors are all African-American, or at least not majority Caucasian, but ignoring the fact denies available information. Perhaps their race is important; perhaps it isn’t; perhaps a series of such ads feature families of different ethnicities so that a wide spectrum are represented, but we can’t know that yet. The job is to report what we see.
    —That nice sunny day takes place in a town of some size. It might be at the edge of a city, or it could be a sizable suburb, but it’s not downtown, and it’s not in the country. The sidewalks are a clue. So is the yellow line down the middle of the street, the stop light at the corner behind them, the availability of curb parking, the width of the thoroughfare. Tell us as much as you can about where they are.
    —They are dressed for a casual day out together, which would be uncommon for many families. This is a family that actually strolls a sidewalk as a unit, similarly dressed, in shorts and casual tops for the guys. In long tight pants and short-sleeved pastel tops for the ladies.
    —They’re a four-device family, at least, so we learn something about their income and their interest in technology. Nobody has to share.
    —The fast action of the boy’s thumbs indicates he is not listening to music but either texting or gaming. The daughter’s immobile thumbs and horizontal screen says to me she is watching something, not acting. “Mom’s” screen use appears to be one-handed; her left hand is just supporting her phone. Is she reading, scanning pages, examining a still image? At the opening 00:00, Dad isn’t actually looking at his phone; his attention is to his right, to something in the street or across the street.
    —Notice the kids are leading. They either know the way, or they’ve been given instructions to walk to the end of the block. Is this a route they all know well, or are they wandering in a new place?
    —On that same subject, how close are they to the next intersection? These kids are liable to walk out into traffic unless somebody stops them. Will this be a “safe pedestrian” ad?
    —This is probably too much to conclude, but I think Dad could be looking at a landmark or a street sign at 00, then consulting a map on his screen to see where they are.
    —If so, they’re in new territory and we’re right to worry about the kids not paying attention to where they’re going.
    —I don’t know what to make of the street sign they’re passing. It disturbs me that there’s no explanation for the boy taking a different route around the sign pole than the rest of his family, but there it is.

    So, what do you think? Am I making too much of this set of details? It’s certainly possible, but I’ve assigned myself the job of reporting as thoroughly as possible what I’m seeing. (There’s still a lot I haven’t mentioned about how well the properties are maintained; values of the cars on the street; social status indicated by the clothing the family is wearing, etc.)

    Let me know what you think, Alaska. I’d love to have your reactions.
    We can do this a couple more times before the deadline, if you like.

    (I still haven’t watched the video.)


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