The Art of Propaganda


DSC_0718This week, I felt more in my comfort zone.  YouTube, videos, images, ahhhh, this I can do . . . this I understand.  As a thriving DIY’er, amateur landscape photographer, and dabbler in video editing, I have used a lot of YouTube, read many books on photography composition, and have taken some photography classes long ago.  I’ve even had the pleasure of using YouTube in the past for making healthy recipes, looking up certain work-out ideas, or . . . might I admit it . . . finding videos on surgeries I haven’t yet performed (during training of course!).  But when I looked at YouTube and Pinterest with a bit more critical of an eye, I came to some very clear conclusions.

1. Master photography to improve video quality

It is clear that the techniques that make photography so powerful, work equally as well with cinematography.  While both media are not the same, merging techniques of composition help both.  Some of these techniques include:

#The horizontal and vertical thirds (i.e. items of import within an image should be placed on either a horizontal or vertical third – or even better at the intersection of those thirds).

#Mastery of foreground, middle ground, and background

#Simplify, simplify, simplify

These are just to name a few.  While the pictures I have included in this post are landscapes I have taken which demonstrate some of these principles, I saw the same principles in MD Anderson videos, cooking and workout channels on YouTube, and recipes on Pinterest.DSC_4952

2. It’s all propaganda!

I don’t care if it’s MD Anderson talking about cancer treatment, Becca Kay talking about what she eats in the morning (who is she again??), or poverty porn (am I the only one who hates that name? Not if you read the comments to that post we read!  I’m not alone) all these people/orgs are trying to prove their relevance which is propaganda.  MD Anderson wants you to be treated there, Becca Kay gets a kick out of you subscribing to her channel and watching what she eats, and relief organizations are definitely fighting for your money.

3. Simplify!

Yes I know I put this under number 1 as well, but it works on its own.  If you look at the MD Anderson videos in particular, they are meant to strike a cord with your heart and soul.  These videos usually do not show more than 1 person at a time in the frame, the backgrounds are while, the labels are simple text, and the words they use are clear.  EVERYTHING is simple.  I noticed similar techniques on channels from regular YouTube users just interested in having more subscribers.  It works, it’s clear . . . it’s simple.

4. Touch the human element

This goes back to the propaganda bit . . . touching the human soul keeps the viewer engaged, establishes a strong emotional memory thus creating a favorable FEELING about something.  The AIDs videos on Banyan Tree were particularly good at this.  Those videos were also very simple, many did not even contain music (I thought it was a pre-requisite for awesomeness until I saw those videos), and yet they touched the soul through the stories that were told and through the pace (slow) with which they were presented.DSC_7068

5. Oh yeah and audio is pretty key

This is probably one of the more difficult things to accomplish as an amateur dabbler in video, but it’s soooo key.  If you can’t hear the speaker’s voice clearly, the message is lost.  I liken this to the lighting in a picture.  The same scene taken under many different lighting conditions will evoke many different moods.  A voice that sounds distant and echoy, sounds way less dramatic than one that is clear, slow, and lacking background noise.

While all none of these elements touch on health issues specifically, that’s kind of the point here.  What works for Hollywood, also works for us in healthcare.  Everyone is so used to seeing things with the professional productions of Hollywood, particularly with easy to use tools at our fingertips, that poor productions are no longer acceptable.

I found YouTube and Pinterest to be great media for searching for healthy lifestyle choices and changes, information about health related topics, while also being very quick and easy to use.  The search functions work well (which I did not find in other social media sites like Meetup in past assignments), so it was nice to be back with much more robust search engines.  I guess the power of YouTube and Pinterest goes back to the idea presented in Here Comes Everybody – the plethora of people using these sites and providing content gives them their strength and utility.



4 thoughts on “The Art of Propaganda

  1. Wow , I like the quality of the images you posted here .
    They are very eye catching and I do agree with you YouTube and Pinterest to be great media for searching for healthy lifestyle choices and changes.

  2. I find it interesting that both you and Melissa have approached this media tool as an art form. You have taken it quite literally and include beautiful pictures and a very appealing layout that makes me feel that such a post should be featured in National Geographic. I like how you include hashtags in #1 rather than simply using bullet points. I also appreciate you stating that “while none of these elements touch on health issues specifically, that’s kind of the point here.” I was stretching to find how your 5 points relate to public health until I realized that you were essentially drawing a road map for a successful multimedia campaign. I tend to focus on the finished product and what public health message media is being disseminated, but I think it is also incredibly useful to discuss the specific artistic/technical elements that make the tool a useful tool. I really enjoyed this post. I think it is great as is, but I suppose for the purposes of this class, I would have made a more distinct connection between the readings and your blog content. You briefly allude to the Here Comes Everybody reading at the end, but this seems a little haphazard as if it were an afterthought. In addition, a hyperlink connecting your reader to the Banyan Tree video or MD Anderson videos might have been a nice addition. However, as you say, simplify! Otherwise great post.

  3. Hey Chafeek,
    great post! Absolutely stunning images. Completely draw you in as a reader
    Content-wise I think you are right on the money, definitely in order to engage with material and want to act upon something you see or read, you need to make an emotional connection. Simplicity and audiovisual techniques are pretty fundamental in eliciting that.
    Visually the format of this post is gorgeous – staggered images at different alignments with text in between.
    Lovely easy going and relate-able language makes you feel like you are not being lectured to, rather having a chat with a friend who’s giving you some tips.
    Good job (and nice photos!)

    ps I think a LOT of people look up surgeries on youtube 😉
    Never heard of Becca Kay and also HATE the term poverty porn. Actually I really hate anything-porn, word porn etc errggh

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