This video showcasing the visual effects for Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario might not fall under the label of videographic essay in the traditional sense. The primary reason behind this assertion is that while the video does match the stylistic qualities of something like a supercut, it is produced by the company which did all the visual effects work for the film. This fact led me to consider and question the nature of authorship with regards to videographic essays. It is clear that when presented as academic works, videographic essays act as critiques and offer analysis for a larger cultural text (typically a film or T.V. show). Even when viewing “non-academic” videographic essays, this act of assertion regarding the source text is present. For example, even Kevin B. Lee’s “Buzzfeed” style videos (which were structured to maximize views on Facebook where content is auto-played and the viewer is more passive in their desire to consume content) made clear arguments or at least observations regarding a source text. Even in this style of videographic essay deemed to be the most mainstream and “entertainment” driven – they’re designed to maximize views after all – we still see at least a basic level of analysis or contemplation.
I am less certain if this video tries for the same degree of commentary. The company which created the video is the same company that created the visual effects that are on display. While I believe that this video does an excellent job of keying in the viewer to the major role VFX play in the film Sicario, I am less sure what argument or assertion is being made. The video largely functions as a showcase for VFX work done by Oblique FX. This aesthetic of a professional showcase is mirrored in the music that is paired with the VFX work. It can best be described as acoustic rock that is just a little too fast paced for the dentist’s office or elevator music. It is bland and inoffensive – which helps to build the underlying “corporate” tone of the video.
In this regard, I feel that the context of the video causes it to act as a portfolio or resume. If you ignore the fact that this video can be considered a primary text, and that it was made by the group who made what is being showcased, it plays the role of videographic essay perfectly. It not only shows the role which VFX played in Sicario, but it also allowed the viewer to infer how this dependence guided the methods of production for the entire film. Thus, the video’s classification as a piece of videographic criticism is up to debate. For this reason, I would argue that the effect of this video, and whether or not it should be considered videographic criticism is co-dependent upon the acknowledgement of its source on the part of the viewer.
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