What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages

12 December 2016

What are the advantages and disadvantages of telling stories using moving images? The overall objective and purpose of telling a story is to engage with the audience to convey the meaning of a plot and create a human connection on an emotional level (Batty p292). Stories can be told in a variety of ways, and the method by which a story/narrative is told determines the way in which we connect and interact with it emotionally. Each mode of story telling is capable of presenting the same story in different ways.

Humans are capable of both understanding and interpreting the different content and style associated with different modes of story telling. For the purpose of this essay I contend that a moving image is one that is viewed upon a screen. This may include images such as photography, video or animation, which can be used to create films (long, short or continuous) or computer games. Methods of telling stories, which do not use moving images, consist of watching plays in the theatre, reading books or listening to oral/ accounts.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages Essay Example

Filmmaking is the most common way of telling a story through moving image and is a language through which meaning; ideas and messages can be communicated. A story can be told for the first time through using moving images, or a story can be re told as an adaptation through using moving images when it has previously been told in a book or a play. It can also be a true story that people will know from history or news media. The ability to compare and contrast stories that have been told before make the advantages and disadvantages of using moving images more obvious and clear to understand.

It can be argued that there is not a right or wrong way to tell a story, merely a different way, as both types of mode (image or no image) present opportunities which the other is less able to provide. I will start by considering story telling through moving images per se and then go on to discuss story telling through moving images where the story has been told before through another medium. I will also consider methods of story telling that use moving images in new and unconventional ways. Images are a very powerful medium that have the ability to communicate emotion without the use of words.

Although most films are accompanied with dialogue, if this were to be removed, the construction and juxtaposition of a series of images would still be able to convey a message. When we are told and listen to a story or read a text we use our imagination to bring the story to life and create an image of our own visual representation of the events described. It can be argued that when we do this our own interpretation might not be the correct one, as the author had intended, and the meaning of the story could be misconstrued.

This theory is supported by Cattryse who believes that ‘different people may “read” texts in different ways” (2010 p93), not the way that the originator of the story had intended them to be understood. Therefore telling a story using moving images portrays the content of the story visually,meaning that there is less room for misinterpretation by individuals as everyone viewing the story is put on a level playing field as they are all witnessing the same images instead of creating their own.

An advantage of a moving image then is that the story and action can beportrayed more faithfully to the story teller’s wishes. Telling a story using moving images means that not only canthe images themselves be portrayed as a clear story, but the way the images are presented on screen can convey a deeper meaning or understanding and enhance what is shown on screen. Ganz states that ‘film is dependent on many kinds of movement’ (p228). One such movement is the movement of the camera itself, not just what it shows mise en scene.

The movement of the camera has its own filmic language and semiotics. The director of a film is virtually compelled to move the camera, and use different angles and distances to create feeling as otherwise static repetitive shots would be dull and would not be able to re-enforce the atmosphere of the images on screen. Without the presence of any dialogue a feeling can be created by the way the camera moves and reveals what is on screen. Whether this be a pan across the screen, a slow or fast zoom in or out, a certain perspective shot or a point of view. The ay the camera moves, allows the audience to feel a sense of involvement as if they are part of the action because of the “accompanying movement of the eye” following what is happening on screen (Ganz p228). As Bubb states ‘technology now offers speed and fluidity’ (p370). In story telling this relates to the pace at which the information is understood and also the structure in which the information is presented. When using moving images to tell a story the control over space and time that the storyteller has is very different to that when telling a story using the written or spoken word.

The film ‘Pulp Fiction’ by Quentin Tarantino demonstrates the notion of being able to control and manipulate the relation between space and time very well. It is a film with a complex narrative that has a non linear structure, where a combination of interlinked stories are told out of order, yet the flow of the narrative still runs smoothly and keeps the audience in suspense. The irregular pattern in the film where it fluctuates and jumps from scene to scene shows a combination of images that are “discontinuous moments, rendered continuous” (Ganz 2010 p 229).

We have the knowledge that these moments “clearly can not take place in the same elapsed time” (Ganz 2010 p230). Yet it is due to this montage and juxtaposition of images that the audience has the opportunity to make imagined connections and consequences between images to try to create meaning. Moving images often present information in a non linear format, and present “many different iterations” (Ganz 2010 p227) that show possible directions that the story could take depending on the outcome of certain actions.

This creates a greater sense of suspense in a story as Hitchcock states ‘in the usual form of suspense it is indispensable that the public be made perfectly aware of all of the facts involved. Otherwise there is no suspense” (cited in Ganz 2010 p227). This is because the audience can guess what might happen or how “two narrative threads, working for an overall narrative experience” (Batty p292) tie together, but until the critical moment where it is revealed they can never be sure.

An advantage of telling stories using moving images is that more complex narratives can be told and remembered as “images or spatial relations between items are easier to retain in the memory than verbal, linear information” (Ganz 2010 p227). As mentioned previously the technology of moving images offers speed. This speed refers to the immediacy to which information is absorbed. Images are able to portray lots of information in a single frame that can absorbed by the audience quickly that would otherwise have to be explained or described if spoken or written.

This cinematic code is known as ‘mise en scene’, which loosely translates as ‘setting the scene’. There are four basic elements that create the visual language which are; setting, props, figure expression/performance and finally costume. It is via these visual signifiers that we are able to build a picture and create meaning from what we can actually see. This is why stories that are told without moving images are “dependent on well turned phrases and a wide consciously literary vocabulary” (Ganz 2010 p227), the language is intensely descriptive and is “characterised by vivid, concrete detail” (Ganz 2010 p227).

This is necessary in order to conjure a visual projection in the audiences mind as they must use their own imagination to bring the story to life. This also suggests that story telling using moving images is more likely to have a mass-appeal to audiences who may have a limited vocabulary or who may find it off-putting to access stories through reading a large volume of words in a book. We now live in a digital and technological era where our “environment changes and evolves” (zulackowska p86).

In order to make sense of stories that have been told previously, ‘we change the media of the tales to enable us to adapt to new conditions’ (Zulackowska p86) and this allows us to interpret the meaning of the story in our current, relevant and contemporary setting. The story has to be adapted and innovated to a particular extent in order for us to understand and ‘engage with the tales in new ways so that we can expand and develop” the meaning of the story for our own use.

This is one major advantage of being able to tell stories through moving images as the information can be made relevant to the modern day. An example of this would be the contrast between the film adaptations of Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ by both Franco Zeffirelli (1968) and Baz Luhrmann (1996). Although the dialogue for both films were faithful and identical to the original play, Zeffirelli used images that depicted his version in a classical and traditional way that he thought Shakespeare had intended, whereas Luhrmann learly presented the images used in his adaptation as a film of the modern era at that time (1996). This illustrates how the different use of images can make the work of Shakespeare accessible to a different audience who could relate the story to a more contemporary period. Moving images can enhance the telling of stories through the use of ‘special effects’ (DVFx). Sometimes these are essential in order to recreate actual events such as in the sinking of the boat in ‘Titanic’ or to show the unreal as ‘real’ as in the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings films.

In Shilo T McClean’s book ‘Digital Story Telling – The Narrative Power of Visual Effects’ she describes not only the different adaptations of the book ‘the Haunting’ by three different directors but also the use of digital effects that were employed. McClean makes the point that in the 1999 remake of The Haunting by Jan De Bont and in the Stephen Sommers film Van Helsing digital special effects can dominate and overwhelm a story.

It is clear then that DVFx, as well as being a superb tool in the right hands of a director, can also weaken a story if it is not used judiciously as part of the production of the story. Although film adaptations of books or plays requires a major change from verbal to visual effects there be some disadvantages associated with doing so. For example, a film adaptation is unlikely to be capable of providing the true essence of the original narrative as it is being told using a new mode that the narrative was not intended for.

This therefore means that the adaptation will be the personal interpretation of the screenwriter/director and in comparison to the original work, it can lack authenticity. In addition, as most feature length films are constrained to a time limit that rarely exceeds two-and-a-half hours, it becomes necessary for a film to distinguish what are the crucial and essential elements to the narrative from what is not. It can therefore be a disadvantage to tell a story using moving images as there is a “necessity to leave out parts of the literary material”.

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