This is a touching piece of video produced as a final project for a documentary production course at Central Washington University, in Spring of 2011 by Jacob M. Chase. This video is emotionally captivating and is a great example of how one can produce a moving video despite it only being just over six minutes in duration.
The video opens with a black shot and then a low angle shot of the teacher’s feet entering a classroom, this is perhaps to place the audience’s eye level at that of a small child. We immediately hear, what we assume, is the voice of the teacher, we see her talk and interact with her kindergarten class but her voice is narrated over the visual. We also hear children’s voices alongside the voice-over.
Chase uses a lot of close -up shots of the children, this captures emotion, personality traits, and uniqueness. Close-up shots are also highly effective to help the audience relate with the person on screen.
There is a very good narrative structure, as an audience we are captivated and are eager to know what is happening. The story flows well and there is a sense of a beginning, middle and end.
Franco-Bulgarian historian and essayist, Tzvetan Todorov, once said that all stories follow a structure as so;
Begin with a state of equilibrium
Attempt to repair
Reinstatement of equilibrium
When one applies this structure to this video we see that it follows it. At the beginning of this story we see happy children in a playschool setting. The atmosphere appears to be good and the music also prompts the audience to believe that all is normal. A state of equilibrium is created.
At 1.22 minutes the music changes to a low tone and prompts the audience to expect a change in mood, a disruption. We then learn that a child from the class has recently been killed in an accident. We see close-up shots of an empty chair, of artwork, and of some of the children. Berger once said that narratives rely on the viewer having stores of information that make it possible for them to understand what is happening and as an audience we understand how certain types of music mean certain things.
At 2.36 minutes the music tempo begins to rise and we see children playing, we learn of how they speak positively about their class mate who has passed away. We see recognition.
The teacher in the video attempts to discuss the child’s passing and she claims how the children speak about seeing their friend again in heaven. The teacher and the class move on from this tragic event and we see shots of the children laughing and playing. This is an attempt to repair.
Just as Todorov suggests, most narratives end with a reinstatement of equilibrium, in this video we see happy children at the end. We see how the teacher works hard to ensure that parents know that their child is loved and cherished in this environment. A state of equilibrium is reinstated.
The use of a voice-over is very effective as we are watching what is being visually displayed to us without a distraction of someone speaking in real-time. We hear the voice-over but we are focused on the silent visual.
The clips cut to one-another without any white/black shots and the editing is very well done. To the audience an editing process should be invisible, a video should flow effortlessly and this video achieves this. Classic and good editing creates a sense of continuity in both space and time and ensures the audience can read what is unfolding and once again, this is achieved in this short video.
The camera pans across the room to capture the scene. The Mise en Scene is quite effective in this piece. The arrangement of people and objects are carefully framed in the selected shots. The audience sees artwork, empty chairs and close-up shots of children.
This short piece is a very powerful video with good editing, shooting and narrative.