Am I Media-Illiterate?

As we viewed and discussed the Concept in 60 Projects today, I found that I was surprised by how the smallest decision could so greatly effect the outcome of a project. For instance, our discussion of Nathan’s use of silence in his project and how it effected us as viewers. Simply by choosing the not add sound, Nathan completely changed the way we viewed his concept. By omitting music or narration, Nathan forced us to look at the visual text and images on the screen. Some people mentioned that the silence made them uncomfortable or that they would have preferred to hear some background noise, but I think Nathan’s use of silence was ingenious in making us concentrate and focus on the images in his video.

When we discussed the use of font, music choice, narration style, and so on, I was increasingly surprised by how such tiny details could make such a big impact on the effectiveness of a message. These discussions made me think about the commercials and advertisements I’m constantly exposed to. These images are forms of visual rhetoric that I see every day, but rarely stop to analyze. I like to consider myself fairly media literate–I can usually tell when advertisers are trying to evoke emotion or associate a product with a celebrity–but am I? If I’m constantly taking for granted the small details like color and sound in these advertisements, am I really understanding their message? Or are these small choices exactly what creates this message? I’m not quite sure, but I’m hoping that our future discussions about the projects will help me to answer some of these questions.

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One thought on “Am I Media-Illiterate?

  1. I was also pretty surprised by how much seemingly little details affected how our videos were perceived. For example, I was criticized (and rightly so) for using a fancier-than-normal font, but I did this intentionally, because I wanted the film to begin elegantly and my message to flow smoothly and then come to a screeching halt; a point dictated by a sudden change in font and music. Like you said, Nathan omitted audio from his film— something which is often ancillary but customary to an audience. Such a small deviation from the norm had an incredible impact on how his project was received. If he or I were to have made slight revisions to our projects in these areas, it might have been less-distracting to the viewer, but at the cost of the subliminal messages we tried to convey. That is where I think you hit on an interesting point: advertisers need to find that perfect balance in commercials where they stand out to the consumer but are not distracting nor detracting from the actual message. Finally, as you alluded to, is the whole simply the sum of the parts? Something greater? Something lesser?

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