Viewfinder: When Text and Images are Not Enough

Many camcorder enthusiasts became interested in making video after confronting the limitations of other media. Text, which we receive from print media, is the easiest and least expensive medium. But it also leaves much of the message to the imagination of the reader.

Illustrations and still photography, more dynamic than text, prompt the imagination with visual cues. For example, photographic exhibitions allow artists to prompt the imagination of the beholders with no clues other than the photos themselves. Text and photos together are a great combination. Their combined use in magazines, pamphlets, brochures, e-mail and Web pages is commonplace. The pictures provide visual images to enhance the text (or vice versa).

Audio is a medium that most people use in "real time" by speaking in person or on the phone. The spoken word used in face-to-face communication is our oldest form of expression. We use recorded audio to create "audio-text" in telephone voice mail systems. Musicians are primary users of recorded audio media (cassettes and CDs). Their messages are more an expression of an art form than a practical conveyance of information. Public address systems and certain radio frequencies have been communications tools, primarily used to convey information. But as time has passed, many of those emergency-based information sources have migrated to TV and the Internet. In addition, some Web pages utilize audio, thereby combining three different media text, pictures and audio. Slideshows, mostly produced and played backed on computers, also use three different media. Text and images appear on the screen, while audio plays through the speakers.

While words, still images and audio all have the power to communicate, they are limited in their ability to accurately convey certain messages. You may have turned to video after becoming exhausted with the limitations of these other media. Perhaps you were a Web page creator or still photographer who wanted more vitality. The allure of capturing and reproducing the sights and sounds was so compelling because it conveyed much more of your message more completely than text or photos could do alone. Video is by far the richest communication medium available today.

Illustrating the actions of a yo-yo to someone that has never experienced a yo-yo before is an excellent example of video’s capacity to communicate. You can write about a yo-yo, "It spins and goes up and down on a string." You can show a series of sequential stills. You can record an audio file on a Web site of a yo-yo in action. But nothing works better than a 10-second video clip of someone using a yo-yo. Video is a medium that can quickly and simply convey complex topics.

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