Enhanced Rhythm in Blank Space by Taylor Swift

Enhancing the perception of rhythm in music videos allows the audience to “feel” the music. In Taylor Swift’s music video for her song, Blank Space, many techniques were used to enhance the perception of rhythm. First, the majority of the music video’s scene changes or cuts were synchronized with the beats of the song. Placing cuts on-beat, as opposed to off-beat, is usually more effective in enhancing rhythm through the audience’s visual and hearing senses. In an exceptional case, placing cuts on off-beats is effective in promoting a sense of rhythm when the cut precedes the actual beat. Indeed, some cuts were made on off-beats, and were effective because they preceded the actual beat. Second, the cuts were synced with multiple beats throughout the song. Matching multiple beats is better than matching only a few beats when trying to enhance rhythm. Furthermore, the cuts were synced with different beats in each measure, inconsistently falling on the first, second, third, and/or fourth beats. Lastly, Taylor Swift is shown singing in the music video with her lips moving to the words of the song. Essentially, movement to the beat of the music within scenes, rather than no movement, enhances the sense of rhythm. For instance, at 2:30 in the video, rhythm can be felt through watching Taylor Swift destroy the shirt to the beat of the music. Ultimately, Taylor Swift’s Blank Space music video is edited very well to enhance the perception of rhythm and allows the audience to “feel” the music.



Audi Hummingbird: Not Your Typical Car Commercial


When Audi’s new model – the A6 Avant – was launched, instead of releasing a generic car commercial that would showcase a car’s sleek design, leather seats, and clean-shaven driver, Audi created the “Hummingbird.” In this 60-second spot, the audience is transported to a surrealist, Lorax-like environment, navigated by a mechanical hummingbird. The commercial’s strengths lie in its concept and execution. Metaphorically, the hummingbird – quick and nimble – compatibly symbolizes Audi’s ultra-lightweight technology, build, and tagline: “the lighter you are, the more agile you are.” This juxtaposition is most noticeable in the last scene when diegetic montage is applied. Diegetic montage is a technique in which advertisers often place two objects side by side to create a comparison or association: in this case, the hummingbird and the Audi A6 Avant.

In terms of execution, advertising agencies are increasingly shifting towards digital animation because people enjoy the novelty of computer-generated imagery (CGI), and this particular ad highlights the skill it takes to bring something to life. There’s believable natural lighting and depth. Using a wide range of shots, such as close ups, rear angle, and head-on direct to follow the hummingbird’s journey, the final creation also evokes a sense of perceived realism and appeal, despite the fact that the entire ad consists of unrealistic elements and environments, such as flowers made from traffic cones and road signs. One of the reasons why the digitally animated hummingbird appears so lifelike is because of its movements: agile, playful, and effervescent. This is important, because research (McDonnell et al., 2008) shows that object movement is more influential than object shape for viewers when associating virtual things with reality.

Relying purely on visuals and classic John Charles Thomas’s song, “Open Road” as background music, this ad also echoes what made the Chipotle Scarecrow campaign so powerful and highly-acclaimed. However, it fails to arouse sentiment the way that the Scarecrow ad does, because it chooses to focus more on marketing the car’s agility and speed, while lacking a deeper emotional narrative that would make the ad more memorable for some audiences. Overall, Audi’s “Hummingbird” is a beautiful piece of work that advertises a common consumer product in a more unique way.

-Laura Zhang

Visual Technique in Xbox One’s “Immersion” Ad


In this ad for the new Microsoft Xbox One gaming console, the director employs several visual techniques meant to target the ad at a very specific population of consumers: young males. A successful advertisement is likable and memorable, and Microsoft’s “Immersion” ad achieves both for its intended audience.

First, the speed of the editing between the gamer’s virtual world and his reality is exceptionally fast, making the ad more dynamic and powerful to a viewer, particularly a male one. The virtual fight scenes are visually compressed into just a few frames, adding to the excitement.

Next, the camera angles chosen for the gamer’s moment of crisis also cause a viewer to identify personally with him. The camera is set behind the gamer, looking into a mirror; knowing the camera is showing a reflection, seeing the gamer’s close-up, fearful look after every apparent injury causes a viewer to experience the same panic that he does. Though this effect would likely be achieved better through subjective, first-person camera, the director’s choice of camera angle still increases the viewer’s level of engagement with the ad (and it therefore makes sense that a young male gamer was chosen as the protagonist).

The subject matter of the ad also makes it more likable for young males; the ad’s director chose a violent video game (and a rather gruesome advertisement) to demonstrate the realism of the Xbox One. Research shows that gamers, particularly youth and males, enjoy virtual violence.

Finally, the surreal nature of the commercial makes it readily memorable. The absurdness of the ad’s montage (the premise that one could experience in-game injuries in reality) enhances viewer recall, according to a 2012 study. Another study from the same year showed that absurdity in a commercial montage improved attitudes towards the ad among males.

It is important to note that the ad is not without its weaknesses. Most importantly, by targeting it so specifically at one population segment, Microsoft has likely alienated female consumers. Furthermore, the ad’s protagonist appears to be having an unpleasant experience switching between realities, which might cause an engaged viewer to draw a negative association with the gaming system. However, overall, this ad seems well-suited for its ideal consumers.

Microsoft Surface Ad


Without any human subjects or dialogue, this 2012 advertisement for Microsoft’s Surface tablet consists almost entirely of shots of the product from a variety of positions, set to electronic background music.  Yet, despite the lack of an overtly exciting premise, the ad is surprisingly successful at capturing the attention of the viewer through the use of rhythm-enhancing editing and non-diegetic montage.

A key feature of the ad is the way in which the visual editing matches the erratic but intense accompanying rhythm.  The majority of shots last less then one second, and are separated by abrupt cuts which occur on the beat.  In addition, certain movements are deliberately timed with the background music, such as the tablet ‘clicking’ into the keyboard at 0:20.  Though the extent to which these techniques convey a strong sense of rhythm may perhaps be undermined by the beat’s lack of continuity, the quick and sporadic cuts likely increase overall viewer arousal, particularly among a younger, more technologically savvy customer base.

The ad also includes a good deal of peculiar non-diegetic montage – instances in which shots of the product are intermittently cut with seemingly unrelated images that cause the viewer to draw conceptual associations between the two.  Although the images in the ad seem unusual and obscure, it is plausible to derive reasonable analogies from them that help improve viewer perception of the product (for instance, the image of a sharp tool smashing a piece of rock could be meant to emphasize the  ‘groundbreaking’ nature of the new tablet).  Nonetheless, even for viewers who do not comprehend the subtle analogies being implied by the images (if any), utilizing bizarre and abstruse montage is known to increase viewer recall.  As such, the ad not only effectively engages the viewer’s attention but also retains it.


OnePlus One: The Best Phone You’ve Never Heard Of

[embedplusvideo height=”283″ width=”450″ editlink=”http://bit.ly/1y8xUR8″ standard=”http://www.youtube.com/v/2GqExKSwTEA?fs=1&vq=hd720″ vars=”ytid=2GqExKSwTEA&width=450&height=283&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=1&autoplay=0&react=1&chapters=&notes=” id=”ep9351″ /]

Most technology enthusiasts wouldn’t hesitate to call the OnePlus One the best Android smartphone of 2014, if not just for its incredible value. But if you’re like most people, you’ve probably never heard of it. Unlike most technology advertisements which aim to reach as many potential consumers as possible and win their allegiance, the sole promotional video for the critically acclaimed OnePlus One is largely inaccessible to the general public. Like the video, which is unlisted on YouTube and can only be accessed from the manufacturer’s site, the phone is only available for purchase to those with highly coveted invites. To put it into perspective, in half a year, OnePlus has sold just 500,000 units, while the Apple’s iPhone 6 – released under three months ago – has sold nearly 40 million units. OnePlus has done all this with a marketing budget of a mere $300 – the same cost as a single device. Research shows that this obscurity and exclusivity is part of the two-step flow of advertising, in which incomprehensible or difficult to comprehend advertising is made more accessible by select influential people.

The first half of the advertisement features just one person, the creator, along with a montage of the designing, prototyping, and manufacturing process. We get a glimpse into the minimalistic, yet sophisticated and experimental thought process that went into choosing the materials, form factor, and hardware of the phone; we see the precision and delicacy in the manufacturing and also the elegance and quality of the phone itself. The frequent cuts and edits provide a dynamic and powerful experience that engages and draws the viewer in. However, little in the edited montage sequence informs the viewer of anything about the device; it isn’t until after halfway through the advertisement that any information is shared with the viewer. Here, subtle use of computer graphics imagery and effects provides seamless transitions between information blurbs and further conveys the sense of sophistication and modernization the company wants associated with the phone.

The Sims 4 Youtube Ad Analysis

The Sims 4 is a dynamic simulation game in which the controller plays the role of God, directing the lives of the characters (Sims) in the game. In this YouTube advertisement, the directors use an element of mystery to increase suspense and maintain viewers’ attention from the beginning of the ad to the end. It begins with a green light casting a glow over a city as the cast of the ad stares at it in wonder.

Since the avatars used in the game are simply idealized versions of the humans playing behind them, they serve as links between the audience and advertisement. During the climactic point of the ad, creators combine the two worlds and show humans and CGIs (computer generated images) interacting together in the same environment for a substantial amount of time. This was a good move on their part because studies have shown that human beings prefer realistic over non-realistic images. That last statement may make the decision to use CGIs seem risky. However, since this is the fourth installment of the game, its creators were most likely targeting current players by highlighting the game’s new improvements instead of focusing on attracting new customers.

One of the improvements being made to the game is the more “realistic” look that avatars now possess. To accomplish this, the game’s creators made characters’ faces look more neotenous (youthful and innocent). People tend to be more attracted to these types of faces so the ultimate goal for the creators of the ad would be to make viewers associate that attraction with the advertised product itself.



YouTube Advertisement: Beyonce’s Flawless (Remix) ft. Nicki Minaj

Samantha Antrum
Comm 262: Visual Communication
Second Paper Assignment

YouTube Advertisement: Beyonce’s Flawless (Remix) ft. Nicki Minaj

Beyonce’s Flawless (Remix) music video featuring Nicki Minaj is an exciting performance from Beyonce’s On the Run concert tour in Paris. It is also a video that can be considered an effective use of digital editing. Though there are moments in this video that exemplify effective digital editing, there are also moments at which it could have been better not to edit.

Effective Editing Moments
Video-audio sync – when the editing on screen follows patterns in the audio track – is one example of effective editing in Flawless (Remix). This video edits on the beat of the music, which conveys a strong sense of rhythm for the audience. Such editing is effective because audiences tend to prefer editing that matches the beat of the music (demonstrated in a Phillips-Silver study). Examples of editing on-beat occur in the first 45 seconds of the video, where there are several quick cuts that match the beat of the song. Additionally, around 1:22-1:35 the video cuts to the beat of the drum.

Another form of effective editing in this video is the quick editing speed. Fast-paced editing is considered more effective than slow-paced editing because it increases the video’s excitement and increases the audience’s interest in the video (shown in a study by Kraft). Flawless (Remix) does a good job capturing the excitement of the concert by cutting between close-ups of Beyonce’s face, Beyonce and her dancers, the big screen and the audience. A particularly compelling use of quick cuts occurs at 2:10-2:30, when there are cuts between wide shots of the entire stage and close-ups of Beyonce’s face. The continuity of motion throughout the editing of this moment is (please excuse the pun) flawless.

But sometimes it’s better not to edit…
There are instances when editing detracts from on-screen visuals. One such instance is performances, in which editing may obscure the performance. This is especially pertinent for dance performances: cuts during an intriguing dance can cause frustration in the audience, who is subsequently unable to see the visual as it is happening. Because Beyonce’s performance includes dance sequences, particularly within the last minute of the Flawless (Remix) video, that last minute would have benefitted from no editing.


Optimism and Nostalgia in Countdown

[embedplusvideo height=”283″ width=”450″ editlink=”http://bit.ly/1vkxo5B” standard=”http://www.youtube.com/v/2XY3AvVgDns?fs=1″ vars=”ytid=2XY3AvVgDns&width=450&height=283&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=0&autoplay=0&react=1&chapters=&notes=” id=”ep7377″ /]

Beyoncé Knowles is no stranger to successful, viral videos, and her 2011 music video for Countdown is no exception. In the song, Beyoncé professes her love for her husband and her excitement for the future, as they expect their first child. The music itself is incredibly upbeat drawing on many musical styles which makes the song feel both retro and modern. The song’s fast pace and optimism is reflected in the videos impressive use of editing and nostalgia.

The video editing is precise, incredibly fast, and aesthetically captivating. The attention to detail is noticeable within the first few seconds of the video where even Beyoncé’s blinking seems purposefully timed to the beat. The speed of the cuts is very intense and cuts are often made between every beat. According to a psychological study by Robert N. Kraft, the speed of the cuts makes the video more interesting, more active and stronger. Additionally, the editor adds to the action by successfully using split screens, at times having up to 9 separate videos playing simultaneously. All this, combined with the video’s use of bright, saturated colors, creative costumes and rhythmic movement adds to the video’s upbeat and optimistic atmosphere.

The video also relies on nostalgia to induce positive feelings in the viewers. The video uses many noticeable pop culture references, such as Audrey Hepburn’s black outfit from Funny Face. Additionally, Beyoncé and her fellow dancers wear outfits reminiscent of the 60’s and 80’s. This all contributes to a sense of wistfulness for the perceived optimism and brightness of the past. As we know, nostalgia is an effective advertising tool and one could argue that it would be especially effective here due to the video’s release during the 2011 financial crises.

Overall, the proficient use of editing and nostalgia in Countdown contribute to the video’s upbeat nature and the song’s positivity.

Adidas Football: “I am Brazuca”

In celebration of the 2014 Brazil FIFA World Cup, Adidas Football has created a remarkable advertising campaign to promote the official match ball, the Brazuca. The ad features internationally notable soccer players including Lionel Messi, Thomas Muller, and Van Persie, and it utilizes CGI (computer-generated imagery) effects to display the stadium and the audience.

The “I am Brazuca” advertisement successfully kicked off the World Cup campaign for Adidas through energetic camera angle techniques. The director applies a 360-degree panoramic camera angles to show the action of the Brazuca from its point of view, portraying the ball as almost another player. Through the subjective perspective of the ball, viewers can vicariously feel the dynamics of a World Cup soccer match, hear the screams of avid fans, and experience the techniques of world-class players. Even the audio effectively captures the 360-degree movement of the ball, as the viewers can hear different sounds, depending on the position or the speed at which the ball is traveling. This camera angle technique significantly increases the viewers’ interaction and engagement with the advertisement.

Furthermore, the video effectively utilizes the cause-and-effect montage. The director portrays the Brazuca as a means to achieve mastery in soccer.  Throughout the advertisement, we also see ordinary Brazilian boys simultaneously playing soccer on the streets and the field as the World Cup players are playing in the stadium. The only thing connecting the two scenes is the Brazuca, and it suggests that through the Brazuca, these ordinary boys are empowered to become the next generation of Messi or Van Persie.

While this action-packed advertisement makes use of dynamic and accelerated editing tactics to increase viewers’ excitement and enjoyment, it is important to note that heavy editing of athletics often obscures performance. The ad makes rapid cuts along with fast paced background music. This makes even the actual performance of the players seem less reliable and therefore can result in diminished overall persuasiveness.

Adidas Football Ad: “I am Brazuca” 


Clip that shows CGI effects of the Brazuca Ad



Videogame Ad: Call of Duty–Black Ops

The live-action ad for “Call of Duty: Black Ops” video game features people from all ages and occupations, including a businesswoman, a nurse, a chef, and even celebrities such as Kobe Bryant and Jimmy Kimmel, fighting in a war battle setting as one would in the video game. As shown by Boesche’s study that violent content enhances video game performance, the commercial demonstrates aggression as an integral part of the video game. For instance, a woman in a purple blouse is shown with an exhilarated look on her face after firing a shotgun. Suggesting that viewers will also feel the same emotion when they play this game, the commercial reinforces the violent nature with CG effects. While the central message of the commercial is that anyone can experience the rush of being a hero through this game as embodied by the tagline, “There is a soldier in all of us,” the commercial trivializes combat and sanitizes war, which can have a negative effect on viewers.

On the other hand, the swift editing style is effective. As shown by Lang’s study, the persuasiveness of fast editing is remarkable since fast editing is much more liked by young audience than normal editing. Furthermore, this commercial has mass appeal as it looks and feels like a movie, rather than a blood-soaked experience. By letting the viewer interact and get caught up in the game’s energy, the commercial successfully draws the viewer’s attention and increases liking of the game in comparison to other games that evoke revulsion by mimicking stark and outrageous violence.


Copyright © 2019 visualinquiry