Here is yet another example of how video essays distinguish themselves from traditional academic essays. In “How Hitchcock Blocks a Scene,” the essayist creates his own video, in this case, an animated representation of the scene from Vertigo he dissects, to accompany Hitchcock’s film.
This is different than the other multiscreen projects I have seen, where typically we have some other element of the film, or another film altogether, juxtaposed on screen. However, here, we have a graphic that completely supplements the source images and illustrates how the scene is blocked.
What’s interesting about this essay is that we have three elements at play here: the voiceover, the animated graphic that represents the room, and the film itself. As we begin watching the essay, our attention is firmly drawn to the video and the voiceover, with period glances towards the image illustrating how the scene is blocked. However, as the essay progresses, we begin to focus on the film, and more on the essayists recreation. We become more concerned with the bird’s eye view the essayist recreates rather than Hitchcock’s film. Because the graphic does such an amazing job in illustrating where Jimmy Stewart and Tom Helmore are in relation to one another and the objects in the room, it captures our attention, and we only glance back at the film itself when we need to reaffirm what the narrator is telling and showing us. It’s so captivating because it allows us to understand scene construction in a way that is so clear and precise, anyone would be able to understand it. Yet, this is no small feat.
Hitchcock makes blocking a scene seems easier because he is the master of it. By actually dissecting it, we begin to see how complicated a process it really is, and begin to appreciate Hitchcock’s skill in this area of filmmaking
My main takeaway with video essays is that perhaps its main advantage is its ability to integrate other digital technologies, whether they be old, current, or future ways of representing sounds and images.