Culture & Media / Images

Multimedia and the Flash Documentary: Components Working Together

The reading for today analyzed the flash documentary, a media form I did not realize had a specific category.  The flash documentary combines photographs, music, text, and audio narration to tell a story.  By combining these different communication methods, the rhetoric and specific uses of each can complement the others.

Sea Gypsies is an example of a flash documentary that was produced by National Geographic in 2005 under their “Sights and Sounds” section.  The documentary is only a few minutes long and features the photographs of a National Geographic photographer Nicholas Reynard who spent some time living among the Moken, a group of sea gypsies who live off the islands between Myanmar and Thailand.

The first image shows a young boy swimming underwater, and a paragraph of text beside him introduces the documentary.  The sounds of the Moken singing, clapping, and drumming create a sense of the atmosphere you are about to enter as you click on the link, “Begin Your Journey.”

The flash documentary is divided into four different parts, with the narration of Nicholas Reynard (who died in a plane crash before this documentary was produced, as is explained at the beginning) accompanying the vivid images of the Moken.  The divisions are created by a repeated image that contains the number and title of each section in text.  The documentary displays the faces of the Moken, their traditions, and their livelihood.  Sometimes the photos are shown as still images, and other times they are shown as moving images.  Often, the frame will glide over the image, revealing a part of the photo that was not visible at first.  Or, the same image will be shown again, this time zoomed out to reveal more of the image.  And finally, the frame will zoom in on the image, focusing on the object of interest.

The documentary ends with a brief video clip of a small boat sailing away into the sunlight, and the Moken music that played at the beginning of the documentary is heard again.  All of these components, the still images, moving images, music, narration, and timing all attribute to the efficacy of this documentation of the Moken culture.

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2 thoughts on “Multimedia and the Flash Documentary: Components Working Together

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