WEEK 6: Digital Storytelling

This week we ask – what distinguishes digital media storytelling?

As part of exploring that, we also look at what comics can teach us about the combination of image and text. Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud comes highly recommended for any creatives, and particularly relevant to our image and text discussion is McCloud’s categorisation of the ways image and text can work together in comics:
1. Word Specific- pictures illustrate but don’t significantly add to a largely complete text
2. Picture Specific– combinations where words do little more than add a soundtrack to a visually told sequence
3. Duo Specific– panels in which both words and pictures send essentially the same message
4. Additive– combination where words amplify or elaborate on an image or vice versa
5. Parallel– combinations, words and pictures seem to follow very different courses without intersecting
6. Montage– where words are treated as integral parts of the picture
7. Interdependent– where words and pictures go hand in hand to convey an idea that neither could convey alone

TASK: Find an example ‘lost places’ image posted by another student, and add text to it. Create two different versions, using two of the relationships above. Publish in a blog post, linking back to the original post you found the image at. When writing your link, use descriptive words as your link – rather than merely writing ‘here is a link’.

Relevant to editing, and the sequences of images, is McCloud’s Chapter 3: Blood in the Gutter. Below a summary of that chapter from wikispaces.
• We perceive the world as a whole through the experience of our senses
• Our senses can only reveal a world that is fragmented and incomplete
• Our perception of reality is an act of faith based on mere fragments
• In an incomplete world we depend on closure
• The gutter is the space between where things happen, human imagination comes into play
• Comics is closure
• If visual iconography is the vocabulary of comics, closure is its grammar; then in a very real sense comics is a closure (Pg.67; McCloud)
• Closure can be a powerful force within panels as well as between them, when artists choose to show only a small piece of the picture (Pg.86; McCloud)
• The reader is a partner in crime when reading comics, they fill in the gutter

McCloud goes on to define six types of closures:

  1. Moment to moment
  2. Action to action
  3. Subject to subject
  4. Scene to scene
  5. Aspect to aspect
  6. Non sequitur

TASK: Make a list of potential examples of closure that could work within your final video, using each of the above types.

And from this kind of understanding of image relationships, we can start shifting our attention to the world of video editing.

“The instantaneous transition of the cut is nothing like what we experience as normal life, which seems to be one continuous shot from the moment we wake until we close our eyes at night. It wouldn’t have been surprising if film editing had been tried and then abandoned when it was found to induce a kind of seasickness. But it doesn’t: we happily endure, in fact even enjoy, these sudden transitions for which nothing in our evolutionary history seems to have prepared us.”

Walter Murch in a NPR feature.

Alfred Hitchcock discusses how different sequences of the same image can radically alter our perception, in this demonstration of what is known as the kuleshov effect ( or 1+1=3, which tries to state that the relationship between two items is also important ).

Next Week : The first of 3 weeks of video editing tutorials ( using Final Cut Pro. For those inclined, pre-familiarise yourself with some FCP tutorials. ) This video ( by a Darwin High school student ) points out some of the many different aspects to consider during a video production.

Reading: Walter Murch on the relationship between blinking and the edit.


One Response to “WEEK 6: Digital Storytelling”

  1. Interesting Web Project Case Studies « Rmitmusic Blog Says:

    […] and text? ( Online comics are often innovators here.. See also, Scott McCloud’s discussion of image and text relationships.) Image and sound? 10 tips for effective web sound design. Gamers have long been thinking about […]

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