Fresh from the epigraph assignment and the multiscreen assignment, and also fresh from a quasi-failed attempt to combine the two, I stumbled upon this video essay by Kevin B. Lee about a specific scene in the movie A Second Time Around.
One thing about Kevin that is an unlikely thing to admire but that I do, because of how square and geometric and clean and designy I like everything I do to be, is how he handles aesthetics. His use of basic fonts and his video overlaps on multiscreen (which could be a technical necessity rather than an aesthetic choice), the way he uses text connotes casual conversation while still talking about very serious matters. It is so great. One consequence of these choices is that the critical distance of the academic from the studied object is affirmed and maintained. Another one is the demystification of the video-essay itself as a form that isn’t only for professionals who have enormous experience with editing, but for everyone. Kevin has produced more than 300 video-essays. He is no novice to the genre, his style is definitely a choice that he makes.
This video-essay shows such a perfect use of text. I am still trying to figure out myself when text can be best used in videographic essays. I have a slight fear of leaving images to speak for themselves. The PechaKucha exercise made me realize that early on in this class. I had much anxiety about whether the audience would understand the connections that I was making through my editing, and I hated that I was losing important aspects of the movie. To compensate, I wish I used text. The voice-over, but especially the epigraph were great at soothing that side of me that wanted to say more than these silent images conveyed. Another “problem” about my movie is the fact that it is mainly a silent movie. nothing much is said. It is very visual, which is perhaps one of the reasons why I enjoy this movie and formally similar movies, they baffle me at their ability to make meaning without using spoken or written word.
Coming back to Kevin’s essay, the text here is perfect for the pace of the scene, which is a posed conversation and therfore creates space for the audience to juggle with reading and listening and looking at the images. The fact that the conversation is so central to the scene means that Kevin needed to find a way to communicate with the audience without competing with the content of the video itself. He could have paused here and there and spoken in voice-over but that would have been disruptive, not to the dialogue, but to the idea that this is a real conversation, between a real couple and that in real life things just happen and flow and all that we can do really is notice them as they happen.
I thought this essay was great and educative. It does such a great job at pointing out all the aspects of the scene that are relevant to creating a realistic and genuine scene between a couple with the aid of very technical film knowledge.
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