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Aesthetics of Size [Zettl]

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Chris Lantinen

on 15 February 2018

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Transcript of Aesthetics of Size [Zettl]

Object Size
Aesthetics of Size
Aesthetics of Size [Zettl]

You watch a movie on the big screen/then watch that same movie on your iPhone. Size constancy guides our perception. The characters appear to be same size on either screen.
Size Constancy — "The perception of the actual size of an object regardless of the distance and the angle of view."
In other words, we see people and environments as normal sized, regardless of how they appear. We know how large something should be based on our own experiences.
"It is the context within which we see an object that supplies us with the necessary clues for perceiving the object’s actual shape and size."
Aesthetic Energy
A larger image on the screen overpowers smaller images, it has more aesthetic energy (simply put, this means the force something carries while on screen, priority).
Movies on the "big screen" often feel more powerful than if you watched, say, "Gravity" on your phone.
We naturally feel as if we have less control over something large, and if you have no control over something, it feels more powerful.
"The mere energy of enormousness can inspire awe."
Edgar Wright talks the art of the close-up, altering size within a single shot, or through editing. Watch how close ups allow for a continuation of energy on the screen despite the activity (filing paperwork).
The Mobile Screen
Size, scale takes on greater importance within the world of mobile.
"The challenge of structuring an event for mobile media is to make it clearly visible and to show it in a way that reflects as much as possible its energy. "
So what are the design factors we must keep in mind when creating for a smaller screen?
Reliance on close-ups — Long shots, being harder to see on the small screen, lack energy. "Talking Head" style of interviewing gains popularity in this format. YouTube product reviews often take this form, larger personalities using those close-ups to maintain energy.
"There is literally no room on a mobile media display to have your guests sit comfortably apart from each other on a loose medium shot during the interview or walk side-by-side through a picturesque countryside on a long shot."
When viewing something, we establish scale, by comparing a given object to its surroundings.
We need accurate contextual clues to determine size.
Then, if we don't know the objects displayed on the screen, we judge it by how much screen space it takes up.
If it takes up a large portion, we will believe the item to be large. Small portion, item is small.
"But even if we know the object, we tend to feel more graphic weight and, with it,
aesthetic energy
when the object is shown in a close-up than in a long shot."
Aesthetic Energy
In review, we spoke about energy previously with color.
Color energy — "The relative aesthetic impact a color has on us; the relative energy a color emits within its contextual field." Chart is shown below.
Large areas of color often have more color energy; when a colors contrasts with its background, it has more energy (sticks out more).
High energy colors are said to be "more active" produces an emotional reaction quickly.
How is energy created through image size/framing though?
In our first example, you can't really tell how large the cards are. You don't know what zoom is employed on these shots, you have no context to place them in.
In our second example, you realize the Jack card is the largest, given its context amongst the other cards. Queen second smallest, King smallest.
In our third example, we now know the exact size, because it's matched up with an object from our experience: the human hand.
What does that tell us about human perception and how we experience visual media?
The Mobile Screen
Inductive visual approach — "The inductive visual approach means that you present a story in a series of close-up details rather than move from an establishing long shot to a few eventual close-ups."
Shot sequence described as dense.
"Necessitates cramming a lot of shots into a relatively short time period, much like commercial spots do."
Again, the basis of most popular product reviews.
For comparison...
Deductive visual approach — Start with a wide shot/move progressively tighter into event detail.
The Mobile Screen
Brief Running Times—  In mobile news, short-form features you're looking to present in 30 seconds to 4 minutes. "Content snacking" meaning consumers are taking in material in these chunks.
Dense Audio Track — The audio is able to add much needed energy to a smaller screen (because you can wear headphones).
"The audio must not only reproduce what is being said but also provide ambient sounds. These environmental sounds will help expand the screen"
Use audio as your wide shot.
Deductive visual approach — Start with a wide shot/move progressively tighter into event detail.
Find me a clip that demonstrates this style. Can be film, TV, local news, anything that shows deductive visual style.
Include the link in a D2L entry and your analysis of the clip.
Worth 20 points.
Due by the beginning of next class.
Full transcript