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According to Andy Baio, who coined the term in April 2008, “‘[s
] are obsessive-compulsive montages of video clips, meticulously isolating every instance of a single film, usually cliches, phrases, and other tropes” (Baio 2008) upercuts’  In short, . are condensed representations of a film or multiple films; commonly exhibiting recurring patterns of directorial trademarks or salient tropes. The most common means of supercuts are either successive examples that take up the entire video frame one after another, split-screen representation where examples are paralleled or juxtaposed, or, in some cases, successively edited clusters of multiple frames across the screen, resulting in a kaleidoscopic view. The ‘common’ portrayal has no voice-over; it features a single piece of music throughout the entire montage and exempts supercut sound, unless sound and music is (part of) the focus, as it is the case, for example, in Kogonada’s Sounds of Aronofsky (2012), or in Nelson Carvajal’s Pacino: Full Roar (2013) video. diegetic
can be accompanied by a write-up, supercut the tone, scope and aim of the video, or simply listing the films cited. As for ways of listing the cited films, Zach Prewitt's The Last Thing You See: A Final Shot Montage (2013) provides an elegant solution where each fragment is individually and chronologically noted in the description box with clickable contextualizing -links that jump to the corresponding film scene in the video. timecode
Often curators of
platforms preface or contextualize the video with a write-up. This is a common alternative to the video’s author writing the accompanying article him or herself. Most notably, this is the set-up for [in videographi c Transition, where audiovisual works are peer-reviewed and accompanied by a more scholarly – analytical and reflexive – write-up. In such processes, ] might be (re- videos ) for specific audiences. More often than not, however, online videos are presented as without contextualized of any accompanying text or lists of quoted titles, thus trusting the viewer’s inferential judgment in figuring out the intention or ‘point’ behind their compilation – as it is the case in the completely non-annotated critical take on Claire Danes’s acting style in Slacktory’s The Claire Danes Cry Face Supercut (2012). aid
Videos with identical aesthetics are offered in scholarly, as well as non-scholarly, circles – examples include Vimeo groups and channels, like “The Filmmakers”, or entertainment websites such as Flavorwire.com. Curiously, the expression ‘video essay’ is most often mentioned in video titles or descriptions by scholars and critics, while other, mostly non-professional, groups and platforms tend to label such videos (with identical rhetoric) as ‘tributes’ or simply ‘
Bluntly summarized, the
elucidates a single phenomenon from a body of work or works as its thesis, made known implicitly through the title – see, for example, Kogonada’s Kubrick // One-Point Perspective (2012), and Breaking Bad // POV (2012). supercut
The videos themselves commonly provide a parade of examples underpinning the same single observation. In order to drive their
home, points supercuts their compilations through technical manipulations, such as increasing the tempo of editing, superimposing corresponding shots, or employing graphic overlays. often embellish and graphic overlays are Superimpositions in, but not exclusive to, Kogonada’s work. For an example of the latter, look at his Wes Anderson // Centered (2014) and, once more, Kubrick // One-Point Perspective [Figure 13]. common
An extreme and, in terms of argumentative value and convincing reasoning, somewhat questionable example of graphic overlays can be found in Ali Shirazi’s There Will Be Blood / Through Numbers (2013)
 . exploration of Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2007 film denotes its focal points in the video description, and graphically superimposes its ‘findings’ (more like its ‘assumptions’ in form of graphs and calculations indicating the ubiquitous presence of the golden ratio in Anderson’s work) onto the video [Figure 14]. Shirazi’s
Though aesthetically pleasing, the function and explanatory value of the graphics presented here become increasingly vague as the video progresses, rendering the already frail argument questionable [Figure 15]. Ultimately, the shaky status of the video is directly related to the lack of a clearly formulated thesis.
In the years 2008-2014,
commonly did not provide references to the films shown, perhaps thought of as supercuts unnecessary when only one filmmaker is portrayed (halfway through 2015 there seems to be a gradual shift towards presenting lists with links). redundant thus videos, with titles in the line of “[subject] // [focus]”, as in the aforementioned Kubrick // One-Point Perspective, Breaking Bad // POV, as well as in his Tarantino // From Below (2012), and Wes Anderson // From Above (2012), followed the characteristics mentioned above: implicit thesis, video set to a piece of music, no works cited list. Kogonada’s
Similarly, Flavorwire introduced a collection of
of “[name actor] Loses His Shit” that compile excerpts of climactic moments where actors deliver emotionally explosive performances – see, for example, Robert De Niro Loses His Shit (edited by Jason Bailey in 2013). supercuts
The video by Nelson Carvajal follows the exact same principle – presenting a compilation of Al Pacino having a mental breakdown –, yet it is titled Press Play Video Essay – Pacino: Full Roar (2013).
While, on the one hand, Flavorwire merely presents “details and credits” in its
Vimeo description boxes and adds links to Flavorwire.com, Carvajal’s description, on the other hand, promises a “full article” by Matt Zoller Seitz and Carvajal himself – although it features little more than a discussion of specific Pacino-moments or the thrill of watching a video like this (and thereby it represents a work, once again, closer to celebratory fandom than systematic criticism or analysis). Neither the text nor the video allude to any form of ‘essay’ in terms of rhetoric or even content, yet the term is mentioned in the video title as well as in Seitz’s Press Play article (Seitz 2013). The main, and actually only, difference between the two supercuts’ is that one is featured on Flavorwire, which is a general site for cultural news and commentary, and was made by a staff member, while the other is on Press Play, which, according to the late Roger Ebert, is “[t supercuts he best video essay source on the web” (see Press Play’s ‘about’ description), and made by a professional critic with an established online profile [Figure 16]. ]
A sub-genre of this approach to audiovisual rhetoric is what we propose to call
compilational . This type of video demonstrates an inversion of variables, such as multiple directors being analyzed with one film example per filmmaker as opposed to multiple film examples per one director. Notably, Nelson Carvajal produces these types of videos for both educational as well as entertainment or celebratory purposes. Videos of the first category would be Video Essay: I Love Chocolate (2013), Video Essay: Slow Burn (2013), and the gamut of videos in Vimeo groups “35mm – A Group for Cinephiles”, “The Filmmakers” and “Cinematic Montage Creators”. An example of the latter category was just discussed above. supercuts
Nelson Carvajal and Max Winter’s later work Women in the Works of Martin Scorsese (2014) shows the lack of evolution within this (sub-
genre. The first three minutes juxtapose footage of women verbally lashing out, and then, across Liza Minnelli’s rendition of New York, New York (in the film by the same title from 1977), a sequence shows women in roles as objects of affection. Though the video is thematically clear-cut, its ultimate goal is undefined beyond the simple aim of clustering and cataloging female performances in Scorsese’s films (even the types and roles are implicit). )
written accompaniment clarifies a lot regarding Carvajal and Winter’s aims (the write-up reveals an intention to display powerful women), one may wonder why the video’s authors did not work this information into the video itself (for example by giving a more suggestive and explanatory title). The accompanying information, in a form of an article, is revealed only through a link in the supercut’s description box on Vimeo; technically as well as rhetorically speaking, the moment the video is embedded, one loses such contextual information that actually could reveal the ‘point’ of the video. This is one of the key problems with this kind of video-plus-text clusters, especially when the text has such significant role in directing one’s reading and interpretation of the video in question. video’s
Examples of kaleidoscopic
arrived somewhat later supercuts the game, and certainly in smaller numbers. Salient and aesthetically quite powerful examples can be found in Kevin B. Lee’s Andrei Tarkovsky’s Cinematic Candles (2014) and Catherine Grant’s Intersection (2014). to
Both videos focus on one filmmaker and one film, yet attempt to represent their findings as visually condensed as possible: while Lee’s video shows all of 123 shots featuring a candle in Andrei Tarkovsky’s Nostalghia (1983), fanned out in 36 frames across the screen, Grant’s Intersection simultaneously shows all the sequences from Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood for Love (2000) that play out to the same cello-theme waltz that recurs throughout the film [Figure 17].
Similar ‘soft montage’ examples of split-screened and picture-in-picture paralleled presentations can be found in Ali Shirazi’s P.T. Anderson //
(2014) or in Kogonada’s Ozu // Passageways (2012). Close-ups
Both Lee’s and Grant’s videos are supplied with links to accompanying texts, indicated as “full description” (Lee) and “[y
] oucan read more about this video” (Grant). The linked articles feature work that is exemplified and amplified in the videos: both authors isolate and then centralize a single trait that, they argue, unifies the film’s intricacies. The supplementary writing hermeneutic , or better yet, warrants the approach and production of the videos. To show the range of the film trait – candle props and cello music – that these videos single out, they produced contextualizes that renders all of that singular device’s incarnations in a condensed perspective, which is more encompassing and aesthetically appealing than if one were to go through all of its manifestations one at a time, or present them via static stills. video speaking more a dataset than an analysis, the kaleidoscopic Though technically is a very potent form. supercut
Over the last couple of years, there has been an increasing output of videos investigating (or simply celebrating) cinematic works or film-related issues. While Eric Faden started making short ‘Media
’-videos as early as 1998 (on the 50th anniversary of Alexandre Astruc’s seminal essay ‘The Birth of a New Avant-Garde: Le Caméra- Stylo ’) and personally considered these to be equivalent to academic papers (Faden 2008), it was not until 2007 that Stylo work – resembling the form that we know now – began to take shape. Around this time, Kevin B. Lee started posting excerpts of films online, which gradually evolved into videos with an videographic character. In successive years, critic Matt Zoller Seitz, and graduate students in film like Matthias Stork, also took to editing software to illustrate their analytical findings on certain tendencies in cinema. These initial videos made use of voice-over to comment on assemblies of film excerpts, and thus provided analytical criticism in which the object of study could be watched as it was being discussed. The first trend to garner popularity in these types of videos would focus primarily on ‘ essayistic ’ trademarks, and take the form of obsessive authorial or poetic ‘ compilations where entire oeuvres would be summarized by stringing together the most characteristic shots from a particular filmmaker. Perhaps the most prolific in this category are Kogonada and Nelson Carvajal. As Stork mentioned on the profile page of his Vimeo account (circa 2014), he intended to develop and “make a case for the video essay as a new form of criticism, scholarship and digital ‘pastiche’ supercuts’ .” filmmaking
This type of video is often accompanied by a written text in which the motivation and analytical angle behind the video are disclosed. Although later works showed more theoretical promise, the rhetorical developments through which the audiovisual medium’s specific
could have been addressed have been scarce and inconsistent. On the one hand, this can be attributed to the lack of shared platforms that would allow for the evolution of a common poetics among these affordances -authors. On the other hand, online audiovisual media have historically been reserved for artistic and entertainment purposes, and have little footing in tradition as far as scholarly efforts are concerned. Exceptions from before the ‘YouTube-era’, the likes of Faden’s ‘media video , are either untraceable or have been mostly lost. This often occurred when their stylos’ platforms (with which they were essentially entwined) ceased to be supported. Nevertheless, these early pseudo- or proto-academic videos mark a noteworthy departure from traditional analytical and interpretative techniques of Film Studies which have, from a technological perspective, remained consistent throughout its entire history: text-based. medial
While online videos that reflect analytically and critically on films are predominantly produced by critics, filmmakers and scholars, this is a form of expression that is available to anyone with access to video ripping and editing software. Though the amount of contributors is growing, most current output comes from a handful of ‘usual suspects’. As we will show later on (especially in Chapters II and III), the work of this selection of authors is arguably facilitated by the inception and rise of available multimedia extensions of film (or ‘
) in general. While the more obvious products such as DVD-extras date back to the 1980s, technological advancements democratizing media production and distribution go as far back as the 1950s paratexts’  As for the contemporary developments that fed media consumption as we are now accustomed to, we could list the emergence of Broadband Internet, the exponential growth in computational power of affordable home computers, the increasing user-friendliness of video-editing software and the rise of digital file sharing technologies. Audiovisual materials have become more easily accessible in general, as have the means to manipulate them. As the discussions in Chapter I and II will illustrate, traits of these technology-driven developments echo throughout current video essay practice .  Having an overview of them allows for a better understanding of current practices, and may contribute to the future of the video essay form by revealing ways it could learn from its earlier tendencies and previous pitfalls. .
film oriented videos were uploaded without a clear center, goal, targeted audience, or established institution, lately there have been initiatives to select, group, commission and evaluate initially audiovisual work. Existing publication platforms for scholarly output are in the process of finding ways to adapt to and incorporate audiovisual work, while new online platforms and journals focusing on multimedia essays are being conceived. The most recent development is the emergence of websites and web periodicals that resemble more traditional journals (c.q. essayistic peer-reviewed publication) but are wholly centered upon video. Notable examples are Reverse Shot’s Moving allow Source; Indiewire’s PressPlay; TriQuarterly and Mediascape. More scholarly examples can be found in the Vimeo group Audiovisualcy; Seminar.net; Teaching Media; Audiovisual Thinking; Film Studies For Free; and most recently REFRAME’s The Audiovisual Essay, and [in]Transition, which defines itself as “the first peer-reviewed academic journal of videographic film and moving image studies”. These advances show that the audiovisual format is fully in development, as is the theory that attempts to describe, classify, and ultimately appropriate and legitimize the novel practice (efforts which, in fact, are carried out in large part by the same people that produce the videos – Faden 2008, Grant 2011, Lavik 2012 and 2012a, Proctor 2013, Lee 2013, and Marshall 2013, among others). Nevertheless, these journals and other gatekeepers (such as Vimeo groups) often select and share videos from the same pool of audiovisual works, where material can range from three hours to three years old. For instance, the first curated issue of [in Images Transition – one of the academically devoted attempts at an online journal presenting video – surfaced in February 2014 and featured Kogonada’s “What is ] neorealism ?”video, which stems from May 2013. After a short period of discovery and curated publication of existing video material on newly established online sites, today’s mainstream websites, professional film distributors, as well as platforms with academic ambitions began to actively stimulate production, calling for original and exclusive audiovisual essays . [4  ]
Considering this relatively new practice within the tradition of scholarly or academic communication, however, the
form is videographic and theoretically underdeveloped when compared to and contrasted with what one would expect from a written academic text. Perhaps most saliently, practically none of the existing videos attain self-sufficiency: all videos thrive through one form of accompanying text or another, either to explain the motivation behind the visuals, or to list their referenced works and media. In rhetorically , video descriptions often link to “accompanying essays,” despite the video itself already academic context named “video essay”. But in reality, ‘accompanying’ is an understatement and the video would lose critical context without the write up. All too often the video functions as mere illustration to traditional text, rather than offering independent rounded out argumentation in itself – in a way, it is similar to the way stills have been used for some time now in contemporary Film Studies. ‘Truly’ holistic video that is sufficiently articulate and informative when viewed from start to end is arguably a viable opportunity, one that settles into a category of its own. Experiments offering a serious move in this direction are taking place while we are writing this book. Notable examples are Tony Zhou’s videos that combine an being voice with clean formalist explorations (see for example his analysis of Joon-ho Bong’s 2013 idiosyncratic sci-fi thriller, Snowpiercer – Left or Right), and Kevin B. Lee’s self-reflective work (such as his 2014 What Makes a Video Essay Great?). essayistic
As far as academic video goes, however, our own 37
attempt – ( minutes un reliable ( ) un reliability – or, Perceptual Subversions of the Continuity Editing System [an essay video] (2013) – represents one of those early and few exceptions that underline the rule (despite it being presented in Lee’s video as being part of a bigger movement). )
But, again, what makes a video essay academic? In the voice-over of his meta-video, Kevin B. Lee reaches out to our work and contrasts academic with the “more casual video essays that you typically see, the ones that capture attention and go viral [and are] short, smart, and addictively watchable” (at 1:33, and 2:04) [Figure 1].
[Figure 1] In his What Makes a Video Essay Great?, Kevin B. Lee contrasts our academic video to a more
, attractive, and viral work. causal
Although the divide surely falls somewhere along these lines, it is not as simple as to define academic videos as less attractive or less prone to ‘virality’. Also, it goes without saying (although it is mentioned in Lee’s video [Figure 2]), that one does not need to be an educated and professional scholar in order to create ‘academic’ videos, nor is the production of ‘more casual’ videos reserved for those alternatively educated.
[Figure 2] Lee lists the most influential video essayists who have no advanced degrees in Film Studies (and who take part in breaking those long-standing walls between academic and broader audiences).
In his attempt to answer the question ‘What is digital scholarship?’, Martin Weller agrees:
have tended to think of scholars as being academics, usually employed by universities. (…) However, digital scholarship broadens this (…) somewhat [as] people become less defined by the institution to which they belong and more by the network and online identity they establish. Thus a well-respected digital scholar may well be someone who has no institutional affiliation. (Weller 2011, 4) Traditionally we
Consequently, it seems that it is better to define ‘academic’ less as a question of affiliation, but more as a specific mode of communication – an approach we adopt and further
throughout this book. define pose questions like ‘What makes an academic paper Therefore we academic?’ and ‘What are the general criteria of academic writing?’. In any case, such questions will give us some handles to grab hold of when discussing scholarly angles of video essaying (if only because the discussion on writing has been around longer).
As for defining ‘academic scholarship’ as a specific mode of communication, Steven Pinker’s cheeky take – ‘Why Academics Stink at Writing’ – mentions a blend of two writing styles that characterizes such format:
The first is a practical style, in which the writer’s goal is to satisfy the reader’s need for a particular kind of information, and the form of the communication falls into a fixed template, such as the five-paragraph student essay or the standardized structure of a scientific article. The second is a style that [Francis-Noël] Thomas and [Mark] Turner call self-conscious, relativistic, ironic, or
, in which ‘the writer’s chief, if unstated, concern is to escape being convicted of philosophical naïveté about his own enterprise. (Pinker 2015) postmodern
Although we acknowledge this discrepancy, even appreciating Pinker’s irony, we do not think that bad (‘self-conscious, relativistic, ironic, or postmodern’) academic writing should define academic writing as such. It is better if we focus on practical style and envision academic writing as a trade-off between the imprecise plain language, which is often low on cohesion and high on fluency, and the potentially obscuring ‘traditional’ academic style, which is, in turn, commonly high on cohesion and low on expressive clarity and fluency.
On the other hand, one must not forget that academic conduct is generally targeted at a critical audience that is informed at a certain degree of knowledge. This is not an elitist remark, but a reinstated acknowledgement of a professional niche market at which academic works should be aimed. Outweighing the academic context’s professional audience and by that dominating the
discourse, according to Mark and Deborah Parker, the general public has a “distaste for any explanation or analysis that is abstract, comparative, or extended. (…) A fast trade in detail and anecdote among web-savvy, self-appointed critics leave little space for such criticism” (Parker and Parker 2011, 122). While the audiovisual essay breaks interesting ground paratextual the at area between academia and entertainment, academic writing should not seek to compete with mainstream (film) journalism. If anything, the goals and means are disparately different. For one, academic writing’s aimed precision in communication should not be overly seduced by the attractiveness of expression, style should not trump argumentation, and viewing statistics and social reward should not mellow our established scholarly standards. Perhaps one of the main reasons for forgetting the specificity of the targeted audience and straying away from the academic path is due to digital, open and networked social media, under which new circumstances and on which novel platforms videos are easily distributed and readily (often impulsively) evaluated. The attractive lure of such digital grey agreed and standardized values into the shade. Due to its openness and digital ubiquity, socially shared and assessed digital scholarship becomes less defined by academic standards and institutions’ institutionalized principles. Before this makes us sound too conservative (we have certainly nothing against self-appointed film-criticism and its fertilizing creative playgrounds sometimes put ), we would like to note that we do not think that this is a detrimental development. On the contrary: we envision and advocate fresh standards of new digital scholarship that both maintain and refine traditional academic values within the profoundly transforming dissemination context. prolificacy
In order to strengthen Pinker’s ‘practical style’, define and perhaps even improve that ‘fixed template’, and, ultimately, maintain certain standardized communicative principles aiming at an informed audience in our socially mediated digital era, we need manuals, something like an updated version of the ones such as Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R. Mandell’s seminal The Wadsworth Handbook, which could offer clear criteria and practical guidance that can lead to well-rounded academic conduct. In Chapter III we will dig into Kirszner and Mandell’s work and appropriate its textual guide to the audiovisual practice of video essaying.
All in all, an audiovisual scholarly practice that fully embraces established academic principles while also refining their traditional standards
the new digital era still needs to surface. We do not think that for works will render the traditional, videographic -based scholarship obsolete, but, as claimed elsewhere, we “do see reasons why, and evidence textual how, their implementation could provide a valuable contribution to research and educational practices” (Kiss 2014). What we are implying is that there is still an audiovisual niche for academia that is not being tended to its full potential, despite the fact that it innately possesses all the qualities of a next logical step in exercising in-depth Film Studies. for
It should be noted that our exploration of the academic video essay or research video practice and the theoretical aspects that are directly affiliated to it are all relatively new.
is a fairly young medium; film analysis and theory are even younger. The perspective adopted in the first chapter, that is the history of the – Film – development of Film Studies itself, is only being investigated since recently (e.g. Andrew 2009, Grieveson and Wasson 2008). Arguably, problems with transposing established academic standards mediatized from text to alternative media formats are a logical result of this novelty. The Internet, offering a hosting platform for the plethora of written of audiovisual practice, is hardly thirty years old in its current form. Also, the video-sharing ease, as is now the standard for online distribution, came to fruition only about a decade ago with the inception of YouTube outcomes  Although video essays can very well be used as educational tools in an offline mode, the possibility for sharing content on a large scale has propelled the form’s appeal and maturation. It is no coincidence that the video essaying practice took off after YouTube’s launch: although ‘playing’ with the film material – in form of grabbing frames and scenes to illustrate publications and presentations – was a more or less common aspect of the scholarly work, a social platform was needed to demonstrate the practical benefits as well as the aesthetic attractiveness of such hands-on exploration. Although scholars produced audiovisual materials in the pre-YouTube era, their fragmentary work hardly qualified as what we now consider audiovisual essaying, let alone as a valid academic scholarship. What makes, among others, an audiovisual essay is its intention to be one: an intention to be a closed work (not in terms of meeting academic standards, but rather, in terms of formal intent), an intention of having an argumentative potential (not only explanatory but also poetic essays are made for communicating a point) or a least a concept (that makes the idea more than a mere catalogue – see Álvarez López 2014), an intent of formal and aesthetic attractiveness (to express cinephiliac passion, and to prove confidence in mastering technology and film language), and an intention of being valued (being shared within the academic community, or even go viral beyond that, as well as accepted as scholarship). The latter two of the principles can be regarded as very typical to the video essay, as well as . that make producing them a fruitful and rewarding endeavor. Regarding scholars in the pre-YouTube era: the means available to them were simply too crude to produce works that meet the criteria stated here. And as several passages in this book will illustrate: intention does not always yield the desired results, nor is the term ‘essay’ always properly used. qualities
are not mere byproducts of web content and its affiliated possibilities; they influence not only the rhetoric by which videos are constructed, but also their appeal and impact. Some would go as far as to say it is, in fact, this very aspect of the work that renders it ‘ spreadability new’ (see Chapter III for a more thorough discussion of this classification and its implications). As illustrated in Chapters II and III, some adopters of this viewpoint tend to depart from established modes and standards of academic scholarship in ontologically of exploring the artistic potential (and appeal) of web-based video. favour
Despite the fact that the Internet started off as a free-for-all sandbox (and many may still regard it as such), the need for gatekeepers and orienting collections have made it so that even hosts for user-generated content have come to closely resemble institutionalized media. To bluntly summarize:
-level information is filed under Wikipedia, video is uploaded on YouTube or Vimeo, movie-trivia is looked up at IMDb, rather than a devoted fan site, et cetera. Online Film Studies are slowly undergoing a similar aggregation that is now taking place with still form-seeking online journals and specialized platforms. Though the same principles and needs may loom under the surface of the video essay practice, in the case of publishable research, platforms with defined criteria to enable content with a more stable, or even standardized character are actually needed. Ideally, such established platforms set and safeguard a certain level of quality, provide clear indication, and foster innovation while maintaining underlying quality criteria. introduction
That being said, novel experiments in audiovisual dissection, analysis, reflection and even theorization are being undertaken at this very moment, and new forms of appropriation surface regularly. Although there are scholars that are engaging with video, most fail to, resist, or are simply uninterested in translating and applying the same criteria on their efforts that the scholarly community impose on academic writing
 Granted, one of the innate virtues of video is exactly the fact that it is not text, and it would seem illogical to treat it as such. However, when the innate rhetoric of the audiovisual container . comes into play this becomes an issue – which is most probably part of the general problem of converting textual devices trans-medially. Those who acknowledge the attractive possibilities and engage in the alluring practice of audiovisual rhetoric, in turn, appear to get involved in that specific area to a degree that abandons explanatory lucidity and informational itself in the process. In other words: it seems as if the possibility traceability experimenting and reconfiguring different media becomes a goal in itself, instead of a means to progress ideas in a way similar to what written scholarship has built a reliable tradition in. It seems as if there is something new now in hands-on working with audiovisual material that would make our tinkering (our research practice) worth publishing as a scholarly output of our research. But haven’t film scholars always (or at least since the time of consumer versions of time shifting technologies) worked with films, hands-on and ages before the opportunity to share such tinkering process and without a need to name it as an ‘audiovisual essay’ for  We are aware of the fact that the coming-of-age of new media is not necessarily garnered by mirroring the workings of old ? er) media through mechanical remediation (  yet we found it remarkable that current video essays – of the academic kind – show near-complete disregard of a tradition of analysis and theory. As a result, we came across relatively uninhibited (or, willfully naive) conduct that neglects their chosen medium’s potential, and consequently does not really innovate the study of films, but occasionally even threatens to loosen the academic integrity that characterizes Film Studies as a scholarly practice. Therefore, we strongly feel that audiovisual essaying should be more than an appropriation of traditional video artistry, or a mere , upgraded extension of our analytical practice. What we expect from it is a form of expression that is autonomous and self-sufficient, that would both maintain and refine traditional academic values, and ultimately could lead to a ‘true’ audiovisual turn in communicative discourse by as well as about audiovisually . films
For that reason, in this book we wish to add to the knowledge surrounding this still developing phenomenon and investigate future possibilities of the practice. Though we will present a
descriptive account, we believe this will intrinsically provide an argument for progressing academic work on cinema through audiovisual means. Again, we do not believe that audiovisual scholarship will take the place of traditional text-based analysis and theory, but it can provide a valuable complement that may enrich educational and research possibilities. mostly
Our exploration focuses on the trans-medial evolution of film-related scholarship from a technical-representative point of view. Therefore, we are not particularly concerned with the content of the practice: neither in its ideology or
, nor in the subjective (aesthetic) quality of its results case  Instead, we are interested in the medium and its creative . in the academic context (illustrative media, such as stills, affordance , convergent and hypermedia, and the means of investigating content by paratexts of a theoretical framework, and getting results in a methodical fashion). This scope may seem overly reductive of (and sometimes even critical toward) the many nuances and idiosyncrasies of the field (which expands exponentially as we speak), but for power of focus, brevity and clarity, this is a necessity. Where needed, we will note the general line of inquiry, but only when entangled with the technological mode of study. sake
The leading question
this book is ‘How can the traits and for of a rhetoric text-based scholarly work, characterized by academic lucidity and traditionally of information and argumentation, be optimally incorporated and streamlined into an autonomous, audiovisual container?’ Our research will be presented in three parts. In the first traceability will designate three movements that preluded and influenced the current formation of video essays. These are the medial evolution of film theory; the audiovisual explorations of essay in personal documentary and essay film; and the inception of multimedia extensions, as explanatory supplements to films, found with digital video carriers. In the second chapter, we will map the formal properties of current ‘video essay’ practice. This entails providing a taxonomy of the dominant manifestations, describing their context, and chapter we common tendencies and idiosyncrasies. In the third distilling will match these practices up with the standards applied to the guidelines for academic writing, and supplement them with theoretical considerations for streamlining audiovisual rhetoric. This will result in the proposition of a formal blueprint, seeking to close the posited discrepancy between current practice and an ideal form. chapter we Recently, following its first four issues of curated practice, [in Transition “proceed ] [ ] to a more conventional process, with scholar producers submitting ed works for peer review and publication.” However, “[w videographic ] do not need to be exclusive – that is, orks videographic that have circulated elsewhere can be considered for publication” (see the journal’s ‘About’ section). Also, works , that is text-oriented, online academic journals such as NECSUS or Alphaville embraced the traditional form. As for the latter, submission of video work is more regulated; according to the journal’s submission guideline, the proposed material “must be original, not previously published and not have been submitted for consideration elsewhere.” audiovisual We are aware of the fact that there is not a single set of criteria that relates to academic writing about cinema. The diversity of audiovisual essays – and the surfacing debate about their scholarly legitimacy – only mirrors the general disagreement of our academic community about valid academic expression. Although this book is not trying to do justice among the variety of these voices, it certainly prefers and advocates a distinct mode of academic communication. As elsewhere noted, “[ i ] was around 2001 when I, but most of all my then state-of-the-art PC, struggled through frustratingly long hours with re-editing and rendering Christopher Nolan’s inversely told Memento (2000) into a chronological version (just to learn a few months later that a re-arranged version became a special feature of the film’s DVD edition)” (Kiss 2013). We don’t think that one should call this practice or its result (the chronological version of Memento) an ‘audiovisual essay’, as it is merely a part of a research aiming at understanding the effects of Nolan’s narrative experimentation. t Remediation, according to Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin (2000), is the borrowing of other media in which one medium is itself incorporated or represented in a new medium. Bolter and Grusin argue that new versions always refashion or mediatized the older media. In other words, there will always be a process of remediation, where the repurpose is in constant remediated relation dialectic the earlier media. with From this book’s particular angle of interest, “aesthetic qualities of a video essay are subordinated to and controlled by the success – clarity and soundness – of communicating a lucid argument” (Kiss 2014).