Wim Westera


Audiovisual Design

Theory and Practice 

Developing Concepts for Film, Video and Television


"O, <sigh>, I'm so unhappy!"
(page 250)

a metaphor for life





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AUDIOVISUEEL ONTWERPEN, THEORIE EN PRAKTIJK Conceptontwikkeling voor film, video en televisie
Wim Westera
Uniepers Abcoude Publishers/Open University of the Netherland
ISBN 90 6825 164 3/NUGI 656 199


  How to make a good film? That is the question posed by this (specialist) book on the media. The process of developing an audiovisual programme is viewed as a design problem consisting of a series of design decisions, each of which affects the quality of the finished product. To achieve a coherent whole, the filmmaker must base each of these decisions on a consistent and well-grounded programme concept.


The author offers a detailed discussion of the most important considerations in developing a transparent, sound programme concept, and of the tools available to the filmmaker to do so. His purpose is to organize the intuitive notions and facts of experience related to filmmaking into a systematic structure, and to link these elements to underlying theoretical concepts wherever possible. He approaches the design issue largely from a didactic perspective.


Audiovisual design is divided into two parts, each serving a different purpose. The first part (chapters 2 to 8) is largely reflective in nature and provides the theoretical basis for audiovisual design. The second part (chapters 9 to 15) focuses specifically on the design issue: production process, concept development, structure, presentation, image, sound, and synergy between the latter two.




1.            Introduction

The practice and theory of film
The didactic perspective
The scenario
The contents of this book

2.            Audiovisual media

The commercial and the learning effect
Mass media
Learning from television
Dialectical thought
Media and communication
'The medium is the message'
Linear versus interactive audiovisual media
Linearity in interactive media
Interaction in linear media
Subcultures in audiovisual media
Future audiovisual applications

3.            Learning and teaching

The educational perspective
Theories of learning
Educational design
Learning objectives
The cognitive domain
The affective domain
The psycho-motor domain
Didactic models
Learning by experience
Classical conditioning
Operant learning
Problem-based learning
Problem-oriented learning
Other didactic models
Learning by listening versus learning by doing

4.            Choosing a medium

Didactics and choosing a medium
Limiting conditions
Communication as a translation problem
Comparative media studies
Models for choosing a medium
A strategy for choosing a medium
Features of film and video
References to audiovisual information modalities
Functions of AV media
Financial and pragmatic considerations

5.            Meaning in film

Words and images
Film as a symbolic system
The semiotic perspective
Social codes
Semiotic conceptual framework
Denotative and connotative meaning
Denotation and connotation in film
The cinematic context
The cultural context
The meta communicative context
Concluding remarks

6.            Watching and listening

The physiology and psychology of perception
Image versus sound
The functional structure of the brain
The spinal cord
The limbic system
The neocortex
Processing connotations
Evoking emotions
Theories of perception

7.            Moving the viewer

Dualism as the solution for the reality debate
Film as the viewer's mirror
Psychoanalysis as a source of film theory
Exhibitionism and voyeurism
The scope of film theory

8.            Film and education

The educational film
Acceptance as a critical factor
Learning words and images
Research into moving images
Manipulation and credibility
Didactic principles
Film and depth
Profile of an educational film

9.            The audiovisual production process

The scenario method
Cinema vérité
Intermediate forms
Functions and persons
The audiovisual producer
Phases in the production process
-1. The orientation phase
-2. The concept development phase
-3. The specification phase
-4. The production planning phase
-5. The shooting phase
-6. The montage phase
-7. The completion phase
-8. The distribution phase
-9. The evaluation phase

10.          Developing the concept

From euphoria to depression
Film and structure
Descriptive versus narrative
Dramatic principles
Working towards a treatment
-1. Deconstructing the contents
-2. The premise
The premise in the non-fiction film
The premise as a guiding motif
Premise and objectives
-3. An underlying concept
Similarities as the key
-4. Style and tone

11.          Structure

The concept of structure
Narrative as cultural phenomenon
Syntagmatic structure
Paradigmatic structure
Building blocks of cinematography
Organizing principles
Structural tools
The conflict as the driving force
Role and character
The protagonist and the antagonist
Sustained suspense
The opening sequence
Techniques for increasing suspense
-1. Rousing expectations
-2. Emphasizing contrasts
-3. Knowledge advantage
-4. Knowledge disadvantage
-5. Postponement
-6. Recognition
-7. Pathetic outburst

12.          Presentation

Now then...
Presentation and subjectivity
Who's speaking...?
Effects on the viewer
A hierarchy of narrators
The literary narrative perspective
Presentation forms
The presenter
The interview
The voice-over
The recording
The acting scene
On towards a treatment

13.          Image

Composition of image
Camera angles
Special effects
Camera movements
Changing images

14.          Sound

Sound imagery
The importance of sound
Sound as part of film
A typology of sound
Set noise
Sound effects
The nature of the commentary
Sentence structure
Word choice

15.          Synergy of image and sound

Film as magic
Coherence of image and sound
The set of didactic tools at micro level
-1. Preparing the viewers
                -1a. Getting their attention
                -1b. Announcing
                -1c. Fine-tuning to viewers
-2. Focusing attention
                -2a. Introducing
                -2b. Emphasizing
                -2c. Relating
-3. Activating
                -3a. Building in suspense
                -3b. Asking questions
                -3c. Offering opportunity for reflection
-4. Feedback
                -4a. Immediate feedback
                -4b. Spontaneous feedback
                -4c. Delayed feedback
                -4d. Projected feedback
                -4e. Conclusion/generalizations

-5. Repetition
                5a. Offering information again
                5b. Summarizing
                5c. Confirming and reconfirming





Updated 1 Januari 2013