“Can This Video Get Your Attention?,” Shannon Glancy (2013) — Inquiry 2

Writer’s Reflection   

I have never felt as proficient at writing an analysis as writing a narrative. Because of this, I knew from the beginning that the Inquiry Two assignment was going to be more difficult than the Inquiry One. When asked to write a narrative, I have in my mind what I want to say and how I want to transfer it onto paper. I can visualize the events and recall enough detail to illustrate things to the reader. For an analysis, I have to think long and hard about what needs to be addressed in my writing, what order to address it in, and how to address it. I have to put myself in the position of the audience, ask myself an endless number of questions, read peer reviews, and ask someone to proofread my paper. I have to push myself about twice as hard to produce an analysis rather than a narrative.

For this specific assignment, I sat down at my computer and stared at a blank Microsoft Office Word document for hours. Initially, I felt that my thoughts would flow easier and be more coherent if I wrote the rough draft by hand. However, I eventually opted to type the rough draft because I thought that it would speed the process. Things did not work out as planned. I spent over half a day looking at my computer while trying to figure out how I wanted to tackle this assignment. After typing and turning in my rough draft, I went to work with a notebook and a printed copy of my rough draft. I began to rewrite the entire paper. I knew that I should have handwritten the draft in the first place just as I had done for the Inquiry One assignment and all my assignments in high school. At least I can say that I tried to change the beginning of my writing process and found that my original way works better for me.

With my new rough draft came a lot of changes. I included an image, more paragraphs, descriptions, and analysis. I tried to make my thesis more specific. In the future, I would like to work on building a good, specific thesis because I understand that it is an important building block of any paper. I tried to stay with one audience throughout my writing because both Professor Cummings and I noticed that, in my first draft, I seemed to begin with one audience and end with another. I also wanted to focus on my analysis. I struggle with analysis, so I knew that I would need to review this aspect of the draft multiple times. I tried to understand how the audience of my web text would think and feel in reaction to the contents of the text.

As I read my paper, I found myself asking “How?” and “Why?” in relation to various statements that I had written. I found myself wondering, “What is Professor Cummings going to say or ask about this sentence or paragraph?” I improved my description of certain aspects of the video such as its images and sounds and added details for how and why. After digging deeper into the writing process by asking myself questions, I came to the conclusion that my thought process and analytical ability may have improved. Even a small amount of progress is better than none.

As a student who loves self-improvement and gaining knowledge, all of the videos, blogs, and class discussions have helped me think of ways to enhance my writing skills. I have found that it is more helpful to read and comment on the blogs and Google+ posts of the entire class than just those that are required. This keeps my mind active and open to different perspectives. Understanding the way this helps me learn will assist me in this class as well as my future classes. I will better understand what I should be doing, how I should be approaching an assignment, and what aspects of that assignment I need to further address. This assignment improved the general way in which I approach writing a paper as well as my specific methods for putting together a rough draft. I will continue to apply the principles that I have learned in order to further enhance my writing skills.


There is a three-minute video called “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch” that is linked to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and the Save the Earth website. This video can be accessed through these social networking sites by the simple click of a “share” button. Another way for social network users to share this video is to add, follow, become a fan of, or subscribe to the Save the Earth website. Because of this ease of access, “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch” has a total of 97,693 views and 110 “likes.” A professional video producer would say that the video has been viewed many times because it has a specific purpose, a target audience, and an appeal based on emotion and ethics.

Someone who creates videos for a living understands that there must be a specific purpose and a target audience in order to make an interesting video that people will watch, feel strongly about, and support. The purpose can be clearly stated or implied and typically relates to a topic of high concern. The general population usually glances over videos and written text unless it thinks the text is of some importance. Therefore, a producer needs to identify a topic that will get the attention of the target audience. In this case, the title, “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” the video’s location, and the comments made by viewers on YouTube give away the purpose:  to showcase the effects of the garbage patch floating in the North Pacific Gyre on the ocean’s inhabitants as an example of the fragile state of the Earth’s oceanic environment. The producer’s goal is to inform viewers of the consequences of depositing plastics into the ocean and to motivate them to “reduce, reuse, recycle” through a brief video of images incorporated with narrative. The brevity of the video adds to its effectiveness because viewers typically do not want to commit a large portion of their time.

The environment is a commonly discussed issue. Large companies, small businesses, schools, and other organizations are promoting the idea of recycling through their practices and advertisements. Similarly, “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch” wants to encourage the world to participate in saving living creatures by recycling. Its target audience is everyone in the world. It makes sense for this video to use recycling as its main topic because, when people think of recycling, they think of all the plastics they throw away on a daily basis. Unfortunately, the video will not reach everyone despite all its connections.

This video could actually be attracting people who are simply looking for an example of an effective video — a video that appeals to its intended (or even unintended) audience. By attracting people of all types, the producer is guaranteed to get some type of response. People may begin recycling, donating money for oceanic wildlife, subscribing to a related website, “liking” the video, etc.

The most important aspect of creating an effective video is to appeal to the audience. “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch” does this through images and sound. The images are of floating trash in the northern Pacific Ocean and animals damaged by the debris. One image is of a man paddling a small boat surrounded by plastic garbage. The water is not even visible beneath all the rubbish. When the image comes onto the screen, the camera slowly pans from left to right. The garbage seems infinite, and the man paddling looks stuck in the defiled liquid. As the video continues, the camera zooms in on the sad faces and distorted bodies of sea birds and other creatures that have been directly affected by this new “continent” of plastic. Later, a picture of another man flashes onto the screen. He has a sincere expression of disgust on his face as he holds up a container of plastic muck. A diagram of the northern Pacific Ocean is also shown for the convenience of viewers who are unaware of the geographical location. At the end, a large image of the green recycle symbol and the words, “reduce, reuse, recycle,” appear in an exaggerated letter size and a fun font. The letters are white over a green background which makes them easily visible.

Images can be deceitful. The way in which the camera moves makes the situation appear devastating when perhaps it is just one small problem among many large problems. The images in “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch” are heart-wrenching for environmentalists and animal lovers.  For example, by slowly moving the camera from one end of the garbage patch to the other, the amount of garbage appears to be huge. It touches every edge of the screen. The picture itself does not show where the trash begins and ends. This creates a limited camera frame, and viewers automatically assume that the garbage extends much further than the camera shows. People do not always notice the role that images and camera movement have in influencing their decisions. A producer who is well-educated about appeal knows that someone who feels pity for the animals in this video will probably keep watching because the way in which the camera zooms in on the animals’ sad, cute faces makes the viewer feel the urge to “be a hero.” This type of viewer may decide to donate money to the Save the Earth Foundation through the Save the Earth website.

In addition to the images that appeal to emotions, one image in particular appeals to ethics, and the following final image tells the viewer how to take action. People can sense another person’s emotions and beliefs through their facial expressions and body language. When the video shows the man with the disgusted expression as he glares at the container in his hand, viewers subconsciously know that he is unhappy about the situation in the northern Pacific Ocean. Understanding how this man feels enables the viewer to assume that the man believes that issues such as water pollution are large problems. Viewers can also assume that he thinks that part of the solution is for humankind to do everything in its power to better the situation. The creator of this video used the man’s facial expression to get the audience to think, “He is angry about this, he looks like he knows what he is doing, should I be angry too?” Shortly after this image, the “reduce, reuse, recycle” words and symbol appear with a green Earth inside the symbol which is surrounded by rays of light. This is a symbol that is recognized around the world. People do not even need to see the words to know that someone is trying to get them to “go green.” The rays of light surrounding the words and symbol give the impression that recycling is heavenly. These final two images show how people should feel about the garbage patch and what they should be doing to improve the situation in order to prompt the audience to question whether they should be helping as well.

In addition to the pictures used in the making of this video, sound contributes in multiple ways. Even the most amateur creator of videos can tell that the final product is not going to be the least bit interesting if it is only a slideshow of pictures. The producer realizes that music is an effective addition as well as a narrative speaker. In “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” music is playing the entire time. It starts off slow and mystical with a guitar softly playing accompanied by the sound of woodwind instruments. A picture taken beneath the ocean’s surface appears, and the connection is made instantly. The music is a reminder of the ocean’s beauty and mystery. The music then falls into the background as a man’s voice sounds from nowhere. His voice is steady and confident like the ones you hear on car insurance commercials. The man begins to give facts, “In late 1997, there was a discovery of a new continent that exists between the Hawaiian Islands and the coast of California,” and, “Due to the effects of sun, wind, and waves, the plastic disintegrates into small flakes that are being ingested by a variety of sea creatures.” He poses questions such as, “You might be wondering where all this plastic comes from,” and he gives a solution. “The best thing to do is to try to limit the amount of plastic you purchase and whenever possible use the three R’s, reduce, reuse, recycle.” While the man speaks, the music slowly speeds up and more instruments are added as he works his way to the solution. The pace of the music combined with the photos takes a viewer from calm and sad to happy and ready to help the cause.

Producers add the presence of music and narrative speakers for a good reason: to relax the viewer and to gain the viewer’s trust. The questions posed by the speaker cause people to stop and think about the answers. The facts bestow credibility on both the speaker and the video. The confidence in the speaker’s voice gives an impression of knowledge and trust. If the man’s voice sounded like an angry parent, then people would find the video intimidating and they would stop watching. The music helps connect the audience with the pitiful sea creatures shown. An effective video keeps the audience interested, connected, and calm. A good producer gets the point across and influences a viewer’s decisions using these techniques.

Between YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and the Save the Earth website, you may have encountered “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch” without noticing. You could have been one of the 97,693 people that watched and one of the 110 people that “liked” the video, or perhaps you were searching for an example of how to create an interesting video. Either way, the video somehow draws people in. The producer used a specific purpose and appeal to catch the attention of thousands of people. These people supported this video because the video appealed to their emotions, ethics, and logic. The mesmerizing music, the devastating images, the synchronizing movement of camera, and the confidence of the speaker make the video more realistic. People can grasp that this situation is real because there are pictures and facts. These characteristics explain why the viewers continue viewing and what makes the viewers keep clicking the “share” button at the end. This video achieves its purpose because its producer skillfully employed tools and talent to create a vehicle through which people are energized to help a noble cause.


Works Cited

Palmer, Robert. “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” savetheearth.com Web. 9 July 2012.

“The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” youtube.com n.p. 14 Nov. 2009. Web. 9 July 2012.