Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Sharon Wildwind

I got sidetracked this week. I was doing research for another writer, rapidly flicking from site to site on a factoid mission when a book trailer stopped me cold. Yes, a book trailer.

I’d never heard the author’s name before. The title, while interesting, wasn’t a show-stopper. What attracted me to Where Good Ideas Come From, was the pleasure in watching an artist draw.

I am an artist, but not an illustrator. Because I think that having even

a minuscule sketching ability — mine certainly qualifies as minuscule — is a good thing, I’ve started doing a brief sketch in my journal first thing every day. This is Little Rosebud, one of our stuffed animals who posed for me one morning.

The guy who drew the trailer was a whiz. I assume it was a guy from brief glances of his hand holding dry-erase markers. And, yes, I deduced that a certain amount of digital jiggery-pokery was employed. Likely he drew at a much slower speed and the finished video was speeded up. The overall effect was wonderful. I was half-way into the 4-minute video before it even dawned on me that this might be a book trailer.

When the video finished, I immediately checked my local library catalog to see if they had the book. I put it on hold. Then I went looking for the author’s web site, found his blog, and bookmarked it so I’d get the RSS feed.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve picked up the book at the library and, after glancing through it, I am looking forward to reading it. But I also know that I made an effort to find this book because I’d fallen victim to the halo-effect.

A halo-effect is ascribing good qualities to something because it is associated with known (or suspected) other good qualities. For example, if half the packages of a given food contained the words “Make healthy food choices for your family,” and the other half, packages of identical food, did not contain those words, a majority of people would not only pick the package with the slogan, but they would rate the food in that package as healthier, more natural, and lower in calories. Note that nowhere in the slogan is a claim that that this particular food is a healthy choice. It simply exhorts the shopper that making healthy choices is a good idea.

What irritated me when I watched this video, and still does, is the lack of credits. After some further digging, I concluded that I’d stumbled upon a whole branch of video art, called illustrative storytelling. IS requires a white board, a couple of markers—usually black and red, a video camera, and lots of drawing talent.

Lots of companies are doing it. One company you find a lot of on YouTube is called RSA Animate, who I suspect might have done the Good Ideas video, but unfortunately I can’t be sure. There are no credits. None for the artist; none for the person who narrated the video. Not even a link I could follow back to the source.

I think that’s a shame. If you know who made this video, please let me know. I’d love to send both the artist and the narrator a fan letter.


Quote for the week:

Drawing is risk. If risk is eliminated at any stage of the act it is no longer drawing.

~Lorne Coutts, Canadian artist


Sandra Parshall said...

Sharon, isn't it likely that Johnson did the video himself?

Anonymous said...

Sandra, that's what I think, too, but it could just as easily be a professional reader. Or perhaps Johnson is a professional reader as well as his other talents.