Video Critique

https://news.vice.com/video/these-fishermen-say-obamas-new-ocean-preserve-will-leave-them-high-and-dry

 

The lede for the video was effective, and starts en medias res with the interviewer asking the fisherman the question, “So is it about more than losing your paycheck?”. This immediately propels the viewer into the conflict by establishing tension between the fishermen, their previous income and new legislation. The fisherman responds, “It's just strange, fencing of a place and you’re never going back to it, you know.”, which heightens the tension by emphasizing how bizarre the idea is for him.

The video then cuts to b-roll of colorful coral, which provides a juxtaposition to the relative squalor of the fishing boats. A voice-over then explains that Obama had established the first marine national monument, and putting the voice-over on the b-roll of coral footage creates tension by portraying it in a positive light, as compared to our initial impression from the fisherman.

The video uses establishing shots to set the scene on the ocean, then cuts to a fishing boat, and finally to an industrial fishing factory scene where we see people cleaning fish and crabs. This series of shots not only establishes the setting, but underlines the tension between the desire for pristine oceans and corals and the need for a competitive fishing industry. The camera shows a sequence of shots of colorful coral as a voiceover explains the importance of the unique and old species present in the marine environment.

Then we see an interview of a Democratic senator from Connecticut, who emphasizes the importance of these reefs and provides a counterpoint to the fisherman’s side of the story. VICE then uses an animated illustration to show how large this preserved area is, comparing it visually to the size of Rhode Island.

VICE interviews a fisherman who presents his side of the argument. We see his milieu, which underlines the blue-collar worker vs. big government tension built into the narrative. The cuts are all quick, which moves the narrative forward effectively while still establishing enough about the scene and characters to make those narrative elements compelling.

Next, we see stock footage of the White House which emphasizes the executive branch’s role in creating these marine preserves. This creates a visual and emotional distance between the fisherman and the president, again underscoring the tension. We return to the senator, who is asked to respond to the fishermen’s criticism that their voices were not heard. This gives the video credibility for trying to portray all perspectives equally, and allowing their sources to answer criticism.

B-roll of fisherman cleaning, sorting, and moving crabs continues in the background, providing a contrast to the discussion abotu “pristine reefs” that we hear from the voice over. This again heightens tension between industry interest and conservation efforts on the reef, and gives the video a nuanced and compelling angle on the issue.

The aesthetics of the video were very effective at creating tension, and underlining a compelling narrative of beautiful corals and unhappy fisherman. Video was a great way to tell this story because we get to see beautiful shots of corals as well as see interviews of politicians, fishermen, and other involved parties.

The online presentation was crisp and clean, as VICE prefers a minimal style that prioritizes visuals. There’s just a simple video player with one-line description.