cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by Jim Blob Blann

Disclaimer: I have no training in film critique or production, cannot cite obscure Peruvian directors nor dissect plot structures of obscure Norwegian dramas. I just see a wide range of web videos. And I find myself more and more bored watching ones likely created with budgets versus ones created with passion.

I like the approach I got in this email from the Arizona Department of Transportation as they solicit citizen input for future transportation planning — They have a modern web site featuring a short video, hosted in YouTube, and a survey published from SurveyMonkey (though I wish they had an option for open ended comments in the survey).

According to the email,

We’ve got one more week…more than 750 Arizonans have added their voices to the State Long-Range Transportation Plan by watching a short video and filling out a short survey. Join them!

That seems a horribly low return rate- I have seen email invites for weeks. But thats another story.

The video is obviously professionally produced – clean footage (I could name most of the locations), clean edits, a smooth narrators voice:

But you know what? This is following the same mini documentary playbook from the 1980s. I found myself lulled to sleep, were it not for the mountain and desert scenes:

  • There is no real person I can identify with. The narrator’s voice is robotic, not even seen, and we never know who she is.
  • The people pictured are perfectly diverse, almost like from a clip art video collection. They look too perfect, too damned happy. They do not lok real.
  • The tone is talking down to me- especially on the way finances work. I sit here feel like I am being lectured as to what my allowance means.
  • The message is constructed well, but I am not feeling a real emotional pull, nothing that would enegergize me. I am more or less being told, nicely, that I ought to do something.

On YouTube, the video has 1000 views (way more than I usually get, so I am a kettle painting their pot black), one like, and zero comments. It is for all purposes…. no heartbeat.

For contrast, watch this video of Alfred Carrington sharing his dream of building flying saucers to solve transportations issues

Yes, the video has traffic noise, but her is real. A real person. His passion comes through loud and clear. We seem him in a real environment, by the roadside, in his living room.

Or try this student created video, which plays well with a reference in just the title, “Fahrenheit I-95: Public Perception of Transportation Finance”

Again, it is less than professional, the audio noisier, all single shot, but has much more humanity in it.

One more student film, not really about transportation, but note the energetic style

I am not saying that all videos need to be in Youtube style, or down produced to look fake grungy. But I will say, when I see content like video from ADOT, my eyes get droopy. it’s not about pandering, it is about creating video that digs nto the cores of our emotions. We don’t need more legacy downtalking lecture videos, lets make more emotion stirring videos.

Then again,. I like cartoons

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


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