Visual Rhetoric — kevinbacon

0:00 – The ad starts out with a cartoon of a man wearing a hat driving a small train. This train looks to be carrying either gold or wood planks. The train is coming out of a tunnel and blowing smoke out as it moves across the TV screen. The cartoon looks very happy, bright, and childish.

0:01 – Train continues to move across TV screen bouncing up and down. You can tell its on a TV screen because of the distinct lines and colors of the screen. Why would the director want to include this cartoon in the ad? Possibly to signify innocence and childhood through the beginning of the ad.

0:02 – Camera zooms out to confirm the train is a cartoon on the TV. We can now see an entire living room which looks quite messy. There are toys on the table and scattered on the floor. There are pillows on the ground and the couch looks disturbed. All of these aspects give a homey type feeling, maybe a Monday morning  perhaps after the weekend. Laying on the carpet in front of the TV is a little boy wearing pajamas. An adult man wearing casual clothes is kneeling down perhaps to get the boy’s attention. This is most likely his dad or older brother. The cartoon of the train is still displayed on the TV. In the background we can see some art in what looks to be a living/dining room. Again this shows that they are in a family-type home. The director of the video displays the scene like this to show that they are situated in a home. Also they are most likely family.

0:03 – The camera begins to zoom into the man kneeling down to the boy, and the man shakes the boy at his sides. He does this to wake him up most likely. It looks as if the man is tickling the boy. This shows that they have some type of relationship probably father and son. The boy’s father might want him to wake up for school or breakfast.

0:04 – The boy gets up after the man shakes him. The camera then shows a close up of the man’s face. He appears to be smiling and happy as he tickles the boy. This further strengthens the fact that this is the boy’s father or close family member. The boy and the man must have some type of bond.

0:07 – The man gets up after a few moments and walks away, as the camera pans down on the boy. The boy is laying on his back facing up looking at his dad as he walks away. The way the boy is looking almost signifies that he is thinking about something. Perhaps he has a question for his dad. This also signifies that the boy looks up to his dad.

0:11 – The camera angle changes to show the man walking into what looks like the kitchen. On the table there are cups and bowls stacked in one another, probably dirty. In the background of the kitchen you can see what look to be like a lot of dirty dishes. The man’s wallet and some silverware are on the table next to the cups and bowls. These dirty dishes are probably from Sunday/weekend dinner and now its the beginning of the week so they will be cleaned. These dishes show the transition from a relaxed weekend to the reality of the work week.

0:14 – The man continues to walk further into the kitchen. You can see he is wearing a dark blue grayish long sleeved collard shirt. As he gets further into the kitchen he begins to roll up his sleeves, perhaps to wash his hands. As he rolls up his sleeves the man looks over from the kitchen. He is looking back at the boy who is still in the room where we first saw him. The man looks over as if he is being called or being asked a question. At this point his son is probably asking him a question. His view diverts from the sink to looking in the other room. The man’s clothes indicate he either got back from work or is going to work. These clothes and the attention he gives his son show that he is a family oriented man.

0:15 – The camera angle changes once again to a close up of the boy, now standing up in the same room. The boy’s focus is an upward glance, most likely looking at his dad. The boy almost looks worried as if he is asking his dad a serious question.

0:16 – The boy mouths a sentence quite quickly and continues to look up at his dad. This reassures us that the question he asked was directed towards the dad. The entire time the boy is asking the question he looks nervous or worried. At the same time there is a sense of curiosity/unknowing coming from the boy. Possibly whatever the boy is asking is very serious. The question is directed at the dad from the boy, so he knows his father has the answer.

0:17 – The ad then transitions to a black screen with white writing.


One thought on “Visual Rhetoric — kevinbacon”

  1. This is strong work, KB. Were you in class when your classmates suggested the child’s immobility in the opening moments might be more foreboding than charming? That viewers might be more likely to think he was dead or unconscious than quietly slumbering? It’s a reasonable suggestion. Any reaction to the spiral-bound notebooks on the coffee table or the skateboard leaning against the door? Do they suggest the boy was doing homework in the TV room? Or that he lives here all week as opposed to visiting his divorced dad here on the weekend? Is there any chance the disarray in the home isn’t a weekend thing, but the general state? Does it suggest Mom might not be a resident here? These are questions more than recommendations, but worth asking, I think.

    The type that appears on screen is a very deliberate director’s choice, and it’s part of the VISUAL RHETORIC. It could have been spoken as voiceover but instead appears visually. That makes it part of your assignment. So, now that you know you’re responsible for the time from 0:17 to the end, how does the new information provided by the text change your impression of how well or how poorly the director made her argument?

    We watch these without sound and react to them frame by frame as if we have no idea what the outcome will be as a way to keep ourselves focused on the moment, KB, but once we learn the point, as we do when the text appears, we incorporate that new information into our analysis of, for you, frame 0:17 and every frame from then on.

    As your reaction to the overall presentation changes, you can share it with us, still frame by frame, and comment on whether you think you were well prepared for the new information, whether it contributes to a persuasive argument, whether it succeeds or fails as rhetoric . . .

    Is that clear?

    If when you finish your analysis you listen to the audio track and decide that the message was ENTIRELY COMPATIBLE with the visuals, or that you were COMPLETELY BAMBOOZLED by the visuals into drawing bad conclusions, you can add a final report that critiques how well or poorly the director married the audio and the video to make a point.


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