Film Studies in Motion: From audiovisual essay to academic research video

Video lecture

In a broad sense, video lectures are videos that have a narrator relaying information with certain scope, and from a specific point of view. Ideally and most often, the narrator is someone with recognized authority on the subject matter. It is not hard to see that video lectures bear a close resemblance to the classroom-lecture, but can entail more intricate audiovisual communication and exemplification. Video lectures generally do without musical soundtracks (but may use sound-effects, like the swooping zoom-effects in Filmmaker IQ videos, assisted by folly sound); can employ both an on-screen narrator as well as voice-over (not mutually exclusive); and use visuals from films, text-slides, external graphics and other writings superimposed on film material. Despite the fact that a lecture is, strictly speaking, merely analytical, there tends to be an argumentative aspect to the reasoning presented in these videos. In line with other videos discussed so far, references are problematic here too: indication to intellectual property in running video is often incomplete or wholly absent, works cited lists are also commonly exempted (this may be seen as a mere technical issue, as video platforms are not [yet] suitable for scholarly needs like in-video referencing). Different from most videos discussed here, video lectures are argumentatively compact and autonomous audiovisual works that set-up their points of focus early on, and deliver some kind of conclusion, resolution or summary towards their end.
            ​Pablo Villaça’s videos fall somewhere in between of videographic formalism and video lectures. His theoretical approach is basically formal analysis, but because of the lack in technical savvy and audiovisual rhetoric combined with Villaça’s on-screen presence, an aspect which is otherwise exclusively reserved for video-lectures, it is reasonable to file such videos under lectures. Villaça started a YouTube-channel as an elongation of his work of teaching film. In these technically unsophisticated but, in terms of argumentation, effective videos a camcorder is used to capture him delivering close analyses as he stands in front of a large television serving as a demonstration screen. To show his selection of clips, Villaça simply uses a remote control to navigate chapters and pause/rewind films on Blu-ray [see, for example, screenshots of his Videocast Cenas em Detalhes #12 - E.T. – O Extraterrestre (2013) – Figure 25].
In a panel discussion at Ebertfest 2013, Villaça disclosed that he has not mastered editing software, and therefore sought out the most low-tech solution he could find.[57] The videos are a rarity in that they are one-takes. The lack of graphical or textual annotation is compensated for by the fact that Villaça is physically present, which allows him to point out salient elements on the screen directly (which is reminiscent of the Watchmen Blu-ray-extras).
            ​More common examples of video lectures take the form of slides with a disembodied voice-over; like Kevin B. Lee’s Elements of the Essay Film-video, used in the discussion of essay films in Chapter I.
            ​Aside from excellent videographic formalism, David Bordwell also produces video lectures, such as the superbly elaborate How Motion Pictures Became the Movies 1908-1920 (2013).
The videos in this category are even more reminiscent of Bordwell’s method in writing, and bear a close resemblance to a speaker with a PowerPoint-presentation [Figure 26]. Whereas Bordwell’s textual work is exceptionally meticulous and well-documented, his videos lack proper references in the running video, failing to supply works cited list and credits in an accompanying text or in the video description. While this kind of omission might be commonplace and by that unnoticeable with interactive lectures taking place in classrooms, a video is neither fully transitory, nor private, and the author is not directly available to designate the sources used (therefore, perhaps not really in case of Bordwell but in general, such conduct, beyond the traceability of used sources, raises questions in relation to intellectual property).
John Hess’ Filmmaker IQ lectures exhibit traits of both of the aforementioned, and includes video from different films per topic, as well as elaborate graphics as slides and as annotations [see screenshots of his The History of Cutting – The Soviet Theory of Montage (2014) - Figure 27]. Unlike Villaça’s on-screen presence, Hess’ physical visibility seems to be utilized for no other purpose than providing a recognizable speaker – a sort of ‘branding’. Annotation and pointing, which Villaça does physically, here takes the form of technically superior graphics, text, and animation. Filmmaker IQ videos generally set-up a theme, if not a hypothesis, and then provide a run through of the basic information, without any reference to outside sources or intellectual property. Supplementary text or appendices are also absent. The videos are intricately made and paced at a steady tempo.
The Criterion Collection has commissioned numerous scholars and critics to provide lecture-like video essays as part of its prestigious DVD or Blu-ray releases; more and more these can be found on the Internet.[58] Additionally, Criterion also produces content intended for direct web-use. Its [Film Title]: Three Reasons formatted videos are arguably mini-essays, like annotated mashups, but a video like On The Waterfront – Aspect Ratio Visual Essay is actually more of a video lecture [Figure 28]. Such lecture employs visual material from the film mentioned in the title, production stills, but also illustrative graphics and external media, like newspaper articles. Quoted media are highlighted by selective focus, which is a visually potent alternative to a Ken Burns effect or a drop-quote on screen.

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