Visual Argument – Kevin Buttari

The Ad Council’s “The Day Before” seems to be a very simple PSA, but actually utilizes a number of visual effects to create a very convincing environment.  The PSA depicts the lives of two average men.  The PSA is done entirely in split screen MOS (sound from the scene is not used/recorded) with the left side showing a man that is assumed to live in 1989 (this is explained at the end of the video), and the right showing a man living in what is assumed to be the present.  While the actions on both sides are identical, the aesthetics are completely different.  The left side has a vintage-looking yellow filter to it to give the effect of old home film.  To add to the vintage effect, most of the props and wardrobe are also a faded yellow color.  Everything is just barely out of focus to add to the home movie feel.  The right side uses a light blue/teal filter (similar the lighting given off by a cell phone or tablet in a dark room) and props to give it a modern look and feel.  Everything is also in (more or less) perfect focus.  The men the PSA follows perform very normal tasks that most people go through, either at work or home, to show that they are just regular, run-of-the-mill people.  The men’s days consist of a very standard morning routine (turn the alarm clock off, use the bathroom, get dressed), a drive to work, mundane office tasks (work at a desk, attend a meeting, be angry at the broken copier), a drive home, and a nightly routine.  After the men get into bed, text reading “On October 17 1989 the bay area was hit with the most devastating earthquake in nearly a century.  But the day before was just an ordinary day.  Like today.” fades onto the screen, revealing the meaning of the PSA.  The men and their days are used to represent the average person’s day.  The message at the end implies that the day on the left side was the day before the earthquake.  The right side is there to show that even though a day was not out of the ordinary, the following day, or any day could be disastrous.  While there are no problems with the PSA’s message, there is one aesthetic issue.  The entire PSA is done using all static shots except for the “driving to work” scene which uses an improvised dolly-in (the camera was in a car instead of on a dolly, and was following the men in their cars to work).  Although the shot was very short, it really ruined part of the visual continuity, which is a problem for a PSA shot entirely MOS.  Other than this aesthetic flaw, the PSA gets its point across very effectively and uses its visuals very effectively.

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5 Responses to Visual Argument – Kevin Buttari

  1. davidbdale says:

    This has to be part of your portfolio, Kevin, so you might want to do a more thorough version when it moves into the 75% grade category.

    This is a visual analysis, so it’s critical to let your audience know how, in so short a spot, you are certain the men live in San Francisco, just to take an example.


    Well, no, it is implied that the scenes on the left took place on 10/16, 1989.

    Provisional grade recorded. Strongly consider revising before Sunday’s deadline.

  2. kmbuttari says:

    And this.

  3. kmbuttari says:

    And by that I mean I need a regrade. I explained my realization of how none of this makes sense in one of the other comments.

  4. kmbuttari says:

    Alright, this has been redone

  5. davidbdale says:

    This is quite good, Kevin. I’m impressed with your comment about the dolly shot breaking the visual continuity, although I didn’t find it disturbing myself. It did indicate you were paying attention.

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