The most common mistake in first drafts of your Visual Analysis is to forget the Analysis. No matter how well you identify and describe the visual details of the videos you study, if you neglect to draw conclusions about why the filmmakers selected those images, you haven’t provided any analysis. Below is an example of feedback for an author of just such a draft.
DSH: You have a good handle on the details, MyStudent. Now you need to add the Analysis to your Visual Analysis. You aren’t drawing any conclusions from what you’re watching. Naming the images is the first step. Deciding how the filmmakers used the very specific details they’ve included to advance an argument is the real assignment. An example:
0:06-0:08- Reverse time lapse is still going. Changes camera view and now it shows the side of the house and back of car, both burning. There is a family of 4 walking from the car.
[We can conclude from the direction time is running that a fire started sometime after the family walked away from the car.]
An Asian man, wearing a casual button up shirt and shorts, carrying a blue back pack.
[He’s not in the woods on business. His wardrobe suggests that he is outdoors in the summer for a day of recreation.]
On his left is his Caucasian wife in a t shirt and khaki shorts carrying a blanket.
[She too is dressed for leisure, and the blanket suggests somebody is planning a picnic. We only assume this couple are married, of course, but the four-member family is strongly suggested. They’re an interracial couple, which indicates they’re progressive thinkers and hints at their responsibility and social awareness. Not the type to have started a fire.]
In front of the wife is their daughter with a huge smile on her face. She is wearing a blue dress with a pattern on it and looks to be about 6 or 7.
[This is an entirely wholesome family. Their happy, casual nature and neat attire indicate they would never do anything dangerous or unethical. The daughter is wearing a dress to a woodsy picnic, which might threaten to be a bit immodest, but to avoid even that off-chance, she’s wearing tights under her dress.]
To the daughter’s right, is her big brother, looks to be about 10 or 11 and he is wearing a striped red and white t shirt with khaki shorts and is carrying a white frisbee. He also has smile on his face.
Does that give you a better indication how a video can be analyzed for the “arguments” it’s making?
DO NOT MISS the opportunity to explain why Smokey Bear is as clumsily animated and “goofy” as he appears to be. Surely the filmmakers could have afforded a more realistic depiction of a bear. Why didn’t they? Etc.
DSH: Here’s a fine example of a student submission that does both jobs well: 1) it identifies the details seen on the screen and, 2) it provides feedback on the impressions the visuals create in the viewer. It might not do either job perfectly, but it is a good model for the technique. Analysis in bold.
0:01-0:04: A gray car is in the middle of the screen and serves as the focal point of the shot. This could mean that the car is the main idea of the ad. To the right, walking towards the car, is a man and a woman. We can assume that the car belongs to the man. They have their arms around each other indicating intimacy. They may be a preexisting couple or they have just met in the building behind them that they are coming from. There is a line of people outside of the building and what looks like a bouncer so it can be inferred that the building is a club. The couple is stumbling only slightly so they may have been drinking.
0:05-0:07: The couple stops in front of the gray car in the center of the screen. They are both nicely dressed which means they are decently wealthy and trying to impress each other. This could be their first date. The man is wearing sunglasses, even though its night time, and a leather jacket with a collared shirt under it. The woman is nicely dressed as well in a blazer, jeans, and heels. They are smiling at each other and leaning against the car, indicating that they had a good night and are both mutually interested in each other. Cars drive by behind them.