Gears of War – Video Game Advertisement

This 2006 Gears of War advertisement stunned viewers as it defied the conventional rules of video game advertising. In this ad, Microsoft forgoes the typical loud techno music and heavy artillery noise, replacing it with an emotional juxtaposition of sound and image. Conceptually, this advertisement walks the line between a commercial and a condemnation of war, which makes it both entertaining and thought-provoking.  The advertisers tactfully employ visual montage to relay their message in a way that is both subtler and more effective than a verbal delivery[1]. The purposeful synchronization of Gary Jules’ “Mad World” with scenes of carnage-littered streets invites the audience to feel the exhaustion and hopelessness associated with fighting a war. Furthermore, the protagonist’s blank stare calls into question the hero-figure that we expect to see in a video game.

In terms of editing technique, this advertisement is nearly flawless. Several principles of Perfect Sync are applied throughout the commercial. Shots of the protagonist are edited almost exclusively on the first and fourth beats and crisp cuts bring visual images into view just before the beat. These techniques enhance the drama of the action while also commanding the attention of the target audience. Finally, by editing clips to 2-5 seconds per clip, the advertisement keeps the viewer engaged without compromising persuasive impact or comprehension of the message [2] . Thus, by using principles of editing that appeal to their target audience and images that question the construct of war, this Gears of War advertisement successfully captivates viewers and encourages involvement with the game.



[1] Mitchell & Olsman: Lecture from Paul Messaris

[2] Findings from Rock the Vote and Roger Penn: Lecture from Paul Messaris

Feiya Lin–HP composite ad

Hi, below is the link to my final project and I hope you enjoy it.

I always have the interest in digital media and this time I was inpired by the classical HP computer ad and I make my own.

With a computer, I can watch DVD, go shopping on line, get free guitar tutorial and take pictures of my friends. All these are expressed with simple gestures introducing objects from nowhere.

In digital image class, Paul talks a lot about special effects, which includes digital manipulation, keying and so on. And this project is a combination of masking, keying, photo manipulation and animation.

I shot the scene in a studio which was an easy job. Then I exported the video the sequence images and did the compositing frame by frame(job is simple but involves a lot!) in AfterEffects. Jobs at this time included creating pictures of DVDs, shoes , picture frames in photoshop, making animation of guitar and computer, and masking them so that they could move with my finger. Later, I used particle systems to create special visual effects to make the ad more interesting. Finally add the music.

There's still a lot I could do to make the ad more attractive , but I should submit it by now~~~

An ad for a Mac app with learning from Visual Communications

I've been working on a Mac app in my free time the whole semester and I plan to release on the Mac App Store after new year. So I came up with this idea of making an ad for my app as the final project.

I really learned a lot from Paul's class, on various parts of visual communications. I began to notice subliminal advertising from life and their impact on people, got interested in identifying from real pictures to photoshopped ones, and even watched a 3D movie on my computer with eyeglasses from school. Before this class, I never realized that visual communication techniques are so influential.

And I started to think about how to make my ad. Paul once showed us a music video with perfect video-audio synchronization, and that one is so impressive. So I decided to make my ad like that.

First I got one music clip from audiojungle. It's too long to use so I cut it up with GarageBand.


Then I made the video in After Effects. The iPod-like picture is the high-res icon for my app.

After Effects

I generated keyframes from the audio, and added a bulging effect on the scroll panel of the iPod. I manually adjusted when the text should appear and disappear, and I rendered like 10 times to get it better and better. The final video is linked below, and as I'm not an After Effects expert, I'm quite satisfied with my result:


OK. That's my final project. Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas!

Jian Feng & Qing Sun: Visual Illusions

This is a joint project by Jian Feng and Qing Sun.

We carried out a survey about visual illusions based on the game we are making. We compiled our work to a voice video. Below is the link to the video.

We also attached the script for the video as a reference.

Thank you very much!


Visual Illusions

Hello this is Jian Feng and Qing Sun.

Out final project is about “visual illusions” in games, especially illusions on smoothness and speed.

For this purpose we created ten video clips from the game we are making. The game is called “STEER ‘n’ SLIDE”, in which the player is sliding in an endless tunnel. Based on the video clips we carried out a survey to see how it delivers an illusion of smoothness and speed. For all of the control experiments, the tunnel is moving at the same speed, and the tunnel’s geometries and meshes are exactly the same. The only thing we modified is the tunnel’s texture in each of the ten video clips.

Up to now 63 people have taken the survey and below shows the survey results.

In the first three videos we do survey about how to create a smooth and convenient illusion.
1. We add a triangle at each of the four corners of the texture, which cover the sharp angle between the mesh polygons. This works well to create a smoother illusion with the same polygonal geometry.

2. Sometimes when the avatar or the environment is spinning, the player may feel dizzy. This test shows that concentrating on objects far away could help reduce the dizzy feeling.

3. We also want to know if smoothness helps. Apparently, for most people, the smoothed round tunnel feels much better than the polygonal tunnel.

In the other videos we focus on the sense of speed.
4. In this video clip the parallel lines in the right tunnel are stronger and darker than those in the left one, which actually decrease the sense of speed according to the result. From this we assume that the perpendicular lines are more significant to generate the sense of speed, and since the stronger parallel lines relatively weaken the visual effect of the perpendicular lines, the right tunnel seems to move slower. We prove our assumption in the next few clips.

5. So in the fifth clip we strengthened the perpendicular lines instead, and the result shows that more people agree that the one with stronger perpendicular lines is moving faster. However, there are still 32% of people thinking in the other way. So this might not be the most important factor.

6. Then what about density? We double the density of the parallel lines. Yeah, more people think the tunnel with more parallel lines moves faster. But again, we could only cheat 43% people’s eyes.

7. Well, if we increase the density of the perpendicular lines, nearly all of the responses agree it is faster. So with more perpendicular references, it could easily make us feel we are moving faster than we actually do.

8. Are there other factors? We attached a relatively realistic texture to the meshes. To our disappointment, people still think the simpler tunnel moves faster. We found out this is because the simpler texture has a relatively blurry effect, which may help increase the sense of speed.

9. So we added a blurry effect to the same texture and it works! Most people agree that the blurred one is at higher speed. In addition, because the left tunnel, which should be without any blur, is still moving with some “resolution loss” blurry effect since we uploaded it to a website(Vimeo), we believe that the difference would be much apparent if the tester watched the original video.

10. And, of course, we still remember that we were shown two car racing videos where the cameras were located above or at the bottom of the car at class. So we also carried out a survey about the camera’s location. From the responses, apparently, the lower the camera is, the faster we feel.

Conclusion and Examples
<span style=%

Cross-Cultural Exchange between India and the United States on YouTube



India and the United States share an important trait: they both produce globally-beloved pop culture. The relationship between these popular cultures is increasingly reciprocal, made possible in part by digital media.
YouTube abounds with cross-cultural mash-ups that juxtapose one country’s images with pop music and cultural icons of another. YouTube exists both as a medium to share and circulate visuals that already exist in the world (i.e. TV shows and behaviors in public space) and as a receptacle for mashes created and performances recorded expressly for YouTube. With 70% of its traffic coming from outside the US, the platform makes random video projects public to a global audience.1 The platform also allows for a degree of anonymity – a contributor’s gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, or native language may not be evident in his or her user name. This anonymity makes pinpointing the direction of cultural exchange even harder.

Since American pop music is ubiquitous, it may not be surprising to see Bollywood dance scenes overlaid with a Michael Jackson song or Indian interpretations of hit American television shows. From an American perspective, it may be slightly more intriguing to see how Bollywood has infused everything from America’s Got Talent to social justice advertising, but even then global Bollywood appreciation is widely recognized. Still, analyzing culturally-mixed digital productions offers some insight into the types of cross-cultural exchange that YouTube makes possible.


The most common type of US/India YouTube video can be characterized as a musical overlay. American cartoon characters Tom and Jerry sing Hindi songs,2 the theme song of the film Titantic is injected with Bhangra beats,3 or a Bollywood dance scene is synched to a Tupac song.4 It is often unclear from which culture the adaptation derives or whether the user’s goal is to make fun of one of the cultures. Regardless of motivation and identity, these are creative mashes; they are not simply dubs to export dominant culture. As such, they are cultural products that demonstrate a desire by the makers (and viewers) to mix things up.


Mashes and cultural appropriations that retool a part of popular culture are more complicated to produce and analyze. In this category, we find examples such as “Simpsons Outsourced,”5 Jingle Bells in Gujarti and Tamil,6 and “Bollywood Thriller."7 Here, two different types of pop culture are not just layered; cultural symbols are actually changed. “Simpsons Outsourced” maintains the aesthetic of The Simpsons, but changes the complexion and accent of the characters. In “Bollywood Thriller,” Indian actors invoke Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” in dress, set, and choreography, but perform to Indian music mixed with a vague back beat of Jackson’s song. In a similar vein, there are many new compositions that mix American music and Indian music together. Hip hop remixed with Punjabi beats is a popular combination. These YouTube posts generally have one static image, serving as a type of album cover for the “DJ,” and thus privilege the audio mix. Sometimes these remixes are presented as “face-offs” as in the case of “Ilayaraja vs Titanic”8 and “2-pac: Suka 4 love vs. Soni Soni”:



Even when the videos present cultures in competition, their creation requires the maker to be familiar with foreign pop and to recognize a semblance of similarity.

Columbia’s WikiLeaks Blunder


WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. [Photo:]


On Sunday night MSNBC broadcast a story about how WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange threatened to release a quarter million secret documents should he be arrested. Today he turned himself in to British authorities and is being held in London without bail while his organization remains poised to release their storehouse of secret files.


For those who do not know, Assange’s website publishes leaked documents from international governments, and the U.S. has been in hot pursuit since it made public secret files on the war in Afghanistan over the summer. Last week, WikiLeaks made classified U.S. diplomatic communications public. Then on Sunday WikiLeaks released a document that lists over 100 locations worldwide, many civilian, that the U.S. government has deemed to be crucial infrastructure.


As a dissertation student studying Facebook privacy of college seniors as they enter the job market, however, there was a tiny surprise waiting for me at the end of the MSNBC segment—a warning:


“Now even U.S. government officials and future diplomats (that includes college students) have been warned not to read those classified documents.”


As it turns out, the U.S. government has forbidden employees from downloading and reading the WikiLeaks documents, which it still deems as classified. This from the White House Office of Management and Budget, and, according to CNN, the memo that circulated Friday specified that this goes for government and personal computers.


The legal status of the WikiLeaks documents remains in question, particularly considering the sensitive nature of the information, but let us back up a moment to consider the implications of the recommendation for students (which came from Columbia University).


According to, last week, the Office of Career Services at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) sent an email to students with a message from an alumnus at the State Department recommending that students neither tweet nor repost WikiLeaks because doing so could hurt future career prospects in government.  


In other words, this alumnus appears to be inviting students to surrender their First Amendment rights — voluntarily. Indeed, as reported yesterday, SIPA Dean John H. Coatsworth responded by endorsing free speech, effectively reversing the anti-WikiLeaks guidance:


“Freedom of information and expression is a core value of our institution. Thus, SIPA’s position is that students have a right to discuss and debate any information in the public arena that they deem relevant to their studies or to their roles as global citizens, and to do so without fear of adverse consequences.”


SIPA Professor Gary Sick, a Middle East expert who served under various presidents, added:


“If anyone is a master’s student in international relations and they haven’t heard of WikiLeaks and gone looking for the documents that relate to their area of study, then they don’t deserve to be a graduate student in international relations.”

Furthermore, he characterized the request that graduate students in international affairs not discuss WikiLeaks as “absurd.”

Here is another telling (and disturbing) example of what Victor Mayer-Schoenberg identified in his 2009 book Delete as the “chilling effect” that the future can have on the present in the digital age. Here we have the “absurd” situation of career counselors at an Ivy League institution effectively advising students in international affairs to ignore developments in international affairs.  This event serves as yet another reminder that political content (particularly where it gets memorialized online) is perceived as having a serious bearing on one's prospects for future employment. Just what mechanism leads to this potential self-censorship, as well as other points at which college seniors choose to share or withhold information while searching for work will be an element of my research on Facebook privacy that I hope to keep you updated on here.


To conclude, in a New York Times editorial published yesterday ,  Noam Cohen pointed out that WikiLeaks may in fact be “trying to render governments as brain-addled” as the average teenager unable to keep his or her private and public lives clearly demarcated:


So, without a zone of privacy it becomes impossible for a government to sustain complicated, even contradictory, ideas about relationships and about the world — in other words, it becomes impossible to think. And, imagine that: apparently governments need to think…

These young people, too, lack the ability to say and do dopey things without it seemingly haunting them forever. They may never have bought a book without being profiled. Or queried a search engine without being sized up for an advertisement. Or proffered, and maybe then withdrawn, friendship, without it being logged.


The irony is that the dissonance created by having the backstage of diplomacy thrust into the fore brings government into a similar position as the average teen.


Digital media tailored upon the cognitive and visual characteristics of the user prove to be more effective

Digital media are now everywhere. Increasingly our entertainment options, work flow, and even interpersonal communications are delivered digitally and on-demand. The increased pervasiveness and integration of digital media into our daily lives open the possibility of combining the benefits of high-reach media-based interventions with individually oriented, “tailored” information. “Tailoring” refers to the process of adjusting the form and content of a message to fit certain characteristics of the message’s audience. Traditionally, tailoring was done ahead of time, during the design and production of messages.  For example, commercial advertising spokespersons would be selected to match the gender or age of the intended viewers. With the advent of digital media, however, tailoring can be done instantaneously, at the time a particular individual is actually viewing or listening to a message. I am exploring the potential for this type of tailoring in my own research. With the rapid development of digital-tailoring technology, tailoring a program to the specific demographics, needs, and interests of the viewer is becoming both more sophisticated and less expensive.  But what are the most important components to tailor a message on? To answer this question, I conducted an experiment that manipulated the visual and textual content of a website with a national sample of Americans.  I found that tailoring increased the effectiveness and that there was a dosage response.  I also found that by tailoring on ethnicity (that is, by showing a single photo of a same-ethnic-background spokesperson), one increases the effectiveness of the message. These results reinforce the persuasive efficacy of tailoring and help explain the role that visual ethnic cues play in enhancing the persuasiveness of a message. In the future I hope to further examine the components of tailoring, particularly in conjunction with technological advances that permit instant tailoring.

[flashvideo file= /]

Copyright © 2019 visualinquiry