Some reflections on videos as argumentation

I just completed a class on video editing on Tuesday, and I want to take a moment to reflect on how different the experience of trying to convey something with a video or film is from argumentation through writing. I don’t want to spend much time re-treading the same ground that’s been tread before, so I’ll stick to recounting my own experience (because clearly it’s totally unique).

I chose to focus on the Watergate scandal for my final project in this course, which focused on how the editing decisions that you make affect the feel of what you produce (in addition to giving us the tools to implement those decisions). I spent a lot of time crawling through YouTube for accessible footage, since I wasn’t going to have time to get anything archival, and I didn’t exactly know what I was looking for.

I spent most of my time getting familiar with my subject matter, and trying to figure out what story I could tell in about 5 minutes. I spent the last two weeks of class actually getting the video together. I’m reasonably proud of it, although it could certainly be more polished with more time and effort on my part.

What I found striking is how much denser video is. You’ve got multiple channels of information to work with, and juxtaposition of adjacent elements is much more apparent as a way to reinforce a narrative. You can say less, but figuring out what you want to say (and having some reasons for saying it) is only half the work (maybe less). There are so many more decisions to be made, and so much more potential polish to be applied to make a video argument more effective.

I hope that I’m able to convey how different this form of argumentation is in my future conversations with faculty, especially in terms of how one approaches materials and the narratives that one forms with them. There’s so much to dissect in what makes for a good video / film / movie (whatever you chose to call it). That’s not to say that this isn’t true for writing, but while I had exposure to thinking critically about writing throughout middle and high school, it was only in undergrad that I was prompted to do the same with film. There are similarities in the analysis, so perhaps instead of “books are for the thinky-type people”, we could encourage broader critical thought with broader media criticism and production.