Linda Scribbles

{March 31, 2011}   A Quick Analysis

(I can’t help feeling like this is a blatant flailing around of my ignorance, but here it is anyway.)

ABC’s “Nightline” from 3/30 opens with a billboard:  headlines superimposed over clips, some complete with nat sound from upcoming stories—all very active scenes to give the audience the feeling of “things happening” that people tend stop to gawk at normally (like slowing down to look at an accident on the street)—and voice over teasers to accompany each clip.  The teasers say just enough to give the audience an idea of where the clips are coming from, but not enough to explain what it is exactly the audience is seeing.

ABC could have used simple graphics or left out the sound from the clips and just had the voice over, but the action and the chaos in the first clip of the girls fighting is attention getting thanks to shock value and the voice over serves the purpose of explaining a little to keep that attention.  The headline is short, large and eye catching in case the audience is paying more attention to what they’re seeing instead of the voice over.  The audience still gets an idea of what they’re seeing without any real explanation.

The next clip is even more dramatic, building on the intensity of the clip before, though it does not include the nat sounds.  It puts alarming images right up front with the voice over associating distressing notions with those images by playing over them as they rush past in a quick montage of buildings falling and people running and fires raging.  All of it sending a quietly urgent message:  “The world is falling apart!”  But the voice over implies the news can tell everyone what exactly there is to fear and other things that might help.

The last clip is something “pleasing.”  The clip still has a feeling of “something happening,” but there is no doom involved, so it’s just nice.  At that point the audience is already caught, almost anticipating the next blow; the first clip being shocking and uncomfortable, the second clip terrifying.  When the last one arrives it’s a pleasant surprise and interesting just for being so drastically different from what came before.  Now the audience is calmed and still interested so they don’t feel like maybe they should get up and run or prepare for anything immediately, they’re okay again with sitting down for the program.

The first package is opened again with the clip of girls fighting with nat sound before going in with a voice over.  They could have switched to stand up once the scene had been firmly planted in front of the audience to remind them they are curious, but it wouldn’t have been as visually engaging.  Fading the audio from the clips they use in the “Reality Fighting” package out as they bring up SOT from interviews works well as a transition and definitely connects the two pieces.  The fact that they don’t do that every time they move over to an interview keeps things interesting.  The voice of the interviewee has already been established as something the audience can associate with the clips that caught their attention, so the abrupt change to SOT every so often instead of that transition reattaches audience attention who might have started to let their minds wander wondering about those clips and the people in them.  If the audience is allowed to wander for too long, they miss the point of the package.  The reporter isn’t seen too often, which is good since all visuals are kept relevant and keeps the audience’s attention on the story.

The same is done for the other two packages, though the last package jumps around a lot less.  The last package moves at a more relaxed pace.  The interviewee is allowed to be heard more, to tell his own story more.  After the shocking and the danger, the audience is reminded that there are some harmless things in the world, so people don’t leave “Nightline” feeling anxious and associating that anxiety with the program and consequently being averse to coming back for another episode.

{March 31, 2011}   ABC Nightline 3/30

Leaving this here to find later.  Supposed to analyze it.  Will update with that in a bit.

ABC “Nightline” 3/30

Update:  Analysis posted and linked on Writing Assignments page

It never occurred to me that it might be difficult to switch back and forth between writing with a flat-facts-news mindset and writing with a storytelling mindset.  I like talking to people and hearing their stories, but apparently somewhere in the last couple of years more or less I started looking for things as stories as opposed to people as stories.  That’s just silly, really, considering that stories don’t really happen unless people are involved.  Even if it’s a story about a thing (talking just stories now, not newsy stories), those things are anthropomorphic.  Someone tells a story in which we follow the journey of a leaf falling from a tree and off around a city and everywhere the leaf is doing something.  “The leaf drifted sleepily…”  Leaves can’t get sleepy.  They are inanimate, non-sentient objects, but people give them thoughts, emotions, personalities.  The leaf becomes a person and so we have a story.  I chose a handbell festival as a story subject.  The festival didn’t do anything, but happen and it only happened because people made it happen, and that’s all interesting in passing, but I feel like (and the teacher told me as much as well) nothing’s really happening.  This would have really been something to follow as it came into being as opposed to just covering it when it was already a full grown thing.  It would have been good to talk to the people as they made it happen, see who those people are and how they came to be there, what they felt about the whole thing.  That might have been a story.  What I have isn’t much of anything.  Not that it couldn’t have been, but I really stepped into the handbell thing too late to do a whole lot.  The director, however, is still happening.  He can tell his story, unlike things which can not tell you anything about themselves without help.  Or the bass bell player who is a 6th grade teacher in love with performing (she was getting ready for a performance of “Little Women” at the same time as she was practicing for the festival).  ((She’s my mother-in-law, so maybe it’s too personal for me to do?))  One of the things I’m afraid of is that I might find these stories interesting, but that they aren’t really Stories.  The sort an audience will care about or could be drawn to care about.  Ah well, just have to keep trying, I guess.

{March 17, 2011}   In which I explain The Plan

I’m starting this blog as a class assignment, but this does not, however, imply that I don’t want to be here or to have much to do with it.  I’ll be sharing here things about mass communication that intrigue me and the work I’m proudest of as I’m introduced to methods of mass communication and become familiar with using different media to communicate a variety of different stories and notions.  My hope, really, is that this blog gives me something solid to work with to examine my own thoughts about what I’ve learned and to observe how I’m applying what I’ve been taught.  I would definitely appreciate any constructive criticism and encouragement that anyone has to offer, too.  Any other way this blog helps with growth in this field is just awesome.  Wish me luck!  It’s an adventure!

et cetera
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