What we see
The camera is fixed on someone’s kitchen. It is daytime as we could see light through the closed curtains over the sink, but it is still somewhat dark on the inside. The kitchen doesn’t seem to be one that you would find in a luxurious house, it is fairly ordinary. It also seems kind of unsettling since there is no one present here. The camera is slowly zooming in. It kind of looks as if you were walking through the kitchen. If we were the camera we would be heading towards the stove. At the center of the kitchen there is a pot sitting on top of a stove. The kitchen is cared for and fairly organized. The stove with the pot is the focus of the shot. To the left of the stove there is an empty small room that has light shining through and this same room looks as if it leads to an outdoor backyard.
A man is standing at the foot of his bed in his room putting on his military attire. This doesn’t seem to be the owner of the kitchen in the previous video. For some reason, his room just does not match the vibe of the kitchen. His room is very neat though. His bed is made, and it is still day time. We know this from the light shining through the blinds behind him. The blinds are vertical all the way to the flow, meaning that there is probably a sliding door behind them. He is buttoning up his shirt standing up as the camera begins to slowly rotate counterclockwise. The man is facing away from his bed, with a blank stare on his face. He is either looking at himself in the mirror or just staring into nothingness. When he fixes his coat he blinks twice in a row and lets out a barely noticeable sigh. In the back corner of his room, we can see an opened book lying on the dresser. So far both short clips provoke the feeling that this will not be a happy add about our veterans.
Cuts to a different man sitting at a desk in what appears to be an office setting. His office is not completely neat. This scene carries over the same counterclockwise camera rotation from the previous scene. As he is sitting in his chair, he is handing over a document to someone whose face is not present on the screen. You can only see the other man’s hands reaching for the document. The man’s eyes that we can see are barely open and he doesn’t seem to have much passion or energy in his voice. His face is kind of blank and he looks tired. A strong strobing effect also begins.
Cuts to a woman sitting in her car in an empty parking lot in the pouring rain in the middle of the night. 2 police officers are speaking to her through the opened driver side window. They both have their flashlights shining into the car. The woman looks disoriented, upset, and frustrated. She is throwing around one of her hands, kind of pointing when someone asks “where?” and based on her facial expressions, she seems to be pleading with the cops. She looks tired and is wearing a beanie and a coat. Again, this scene carries over the same camera rotation. At this point the screen is rotated almost 45 degrees counterclockwise.
Cuts to another man standing in the middle of what appears to be a dimly lit living room. He looks nervous and you can tell that he is sweating due to his face being shiny. His hair also looks greasy and wet. His arms are finishing the motion of when people throw their arms up when they are mad or annoyed. The arms come back down and hit his sides. He was looking forward and then looked to his right and angled his head down. Camera is still rotating, it is almost completely on its side. The lighting is also pulsing, going from a darker to light back and forth.
Same man in the same living room. The camera is now focused on his face, with very little else in the frame. He turns his head forward again and begins the process of sitting on a chair. His arms are positioned so that his hands are rested on his knees. He is visibly upset or frustrated, as we can see a huge vein on his forehead. It also looks like he has a scared or nervous grin. The screen is now completely on its side. Same strobing effect.
Cuts back to the man that we saw sitting at his desk earlier. The rotation of the camera continues. It gives the impression that the screen will eventually turn all the way upside down. He now appears to be by himself and he is now looking down with his hands resting on his lap. He looks worried about something. He is sweating and raises his right hand up to his forehead to rub or wipe the sweat off. He looks defeated. The pulsating lighting continues.
Cuts back to the original man, the one wearing his military uniform. The man is now sitting on the edge of his bed buttoning his top. He is still staring forward, but now he is breathing extremely heaving and appears very nervous. His face also looks more moist than it did before. The pulsating lighting continues.
Cuts back to the kitchen, but now it is fully zoomed in on the stove. The pot that was seen earlier is now known to be boiling water. There is a lot of steam coming out of the pot and you can see the water vapor on the lid of the pot. The camera is no longer sideways, it is now back to a normal view. The camera continues to zoom into the pot of boiling water. Lighting is still pulsating.
Cuts back to the man sitting on his couch in the dimly lit living room. He still looks like he just saw a ghost. His mouth is wide open and he is blankly staring forward. The camera angle is just barely rotated.
It is the same man. He closes his mouth, squeezes his lips, and does the very small nod of acknowledgement. It is the kind of nod you accept something tough in your life that needs to be changed. The camera angle begins to return to a normal view.
Cuts back to the military man. He is still sitting on his bed and is still sweating. But it seems as if he is beginning to collect himself, he let out a deep breath and looked more calm. He is still staring forward. The lighting is no longer pulsing.
Cuts back to the woman who was in her car in the rain. She is now sitting inside a dark room. It appears that she is talking to someone. She is looking at someone off screen. She looks more calm and not flustered like before. The camera begins to pan out.
Cuts back to the military man. He is now composed, but still sitting on his bed. He is now holding his phone in his right hand, holding it up to his ear, and speaking to someone. The man is facing forward, but his eyes are glancing up. It looks as if he said “I need help” on the phone.
Cuts back to the women in the dark room. The camera has panned out enough now that we know that she was in a group meeting with other people. One of the other people being the man who was flustered in his living room. The girl is looking at a man to her right who appears to be comforting her. His hand is in the motion of being placed on her shoulder. The girl has a very small grin on her face.
That man that was comforting her then points to the man who was in the previous scene, who is to the left of the girl.
The words “Don’t wait. Reach out” come on the screen as the people in the group meeting are talking.
Link to their website.
In the ad Veterans Crisis Prevention, posted by Ad Council, the director uses mainly pathos to convey their argument that seeking help shouldn’t be something frowned upon. The director intentionally includes specific shooting techniques so that we can feel immersed into their world and feel sympathy for what the people are experiencing.
One of the main things the director intentionally does throughout the majority of the add is rotate the camera slowly counterclockwise. This is done to display the extremely unstable world of veterans living in the United States. Especially when the veterans are no longer serving, so many things can tip them over the edge of sanity. The director shows the individuals progressively becoming more uneasy each clip, and combines it with the rotation of the camera, to essentially say that veterans’ lives can be turned upside down in a heartbeat.
Towards the middle of the video, specifically at 0:16, the camera levels itself back out to a normal view. As this happens, each character starts to become less flustered and calms down. The director is trying to show that the people in the scenes are finally becoming level headed, and are making the right choices for themselves. This is done to express to the audience that the best choices are made when our heads are clear and our minds are stable, not when our thoughts are running rampant.
Another visual technique that the director used was including a strong strobing effect when the characters began to seem nervous, anxious, or worried. The pulsing began at 0:04 and ended at 0:18. This is done to provoke a feeling of suspense and unease for the audience because when we see strobing effects in movies, something is usually about to happen. Because the strobing intensifies when the individuals are in the middle of their mental breakdowns, it tells the viewer that whatever the veteran is experiencing is very serious. The worst choices are also made on impulse, and the director including pulsing lights can mean that something bad may happen if they do not become level headed. Once the pulsing stops, which is when the camera returns back to a level view, the individuals do what is right for them, whether it is calling for help or going to a group meeting.
All the veterans in the video during their breakdowns also look hopeless. They are all depicted with sweat dripping from their faces (0:18), veins popping out of their foreheads (0:16), and blank stares that look like there are no thoughts behind them (0:12). It is done purposely to make the audience sympathize with their disparity.
This may not be intentional, but each veteran is by themselves in their own respective clip. Showing them alone in each scene may demonstrate that in real life most veterans actually deal with loneliness, and not having someone to keep your morale up can lead to mental breakdowns.
At 0:07, the veteran is in her car by herself in an empty parking lot. The director is alluding to veterans who have no where to stay, and have to resort to sleeping in their cars or even worse. But unfortunately, some places do not appreciate unwanted guests and do not allow people to stay parked overnight or sleep in certain spots. Hence, why we see the cops talking to her, most likely asking her to move, and that would explain her hand motions that looked as if she was pointing to “where” she would go.
At 0:21, when the man says “I need help” on the phone, I think it is intentional that a man is the one doing a “cry for help.” It speaks volume that in a society where men are molded to contain their feelings and emotions, a man who is deemed masculine because he has served in the military, is the one to call and reach out to others for his own health. It’s intentional to evoke the feeling of acceptance within yourself, to acknowledge that everything may not be as perfect as you think in you life.
Another thing included was the kitchen scenes with the pot. With the audio off, you can’t really tell what the analogy is with the pots. When you hear what is going on in the video, the steaming water in the pot makes sense, but visually, it may not be something so easy to grasp.
There were not a lot of hidden things in this ad, but definitely the vast majority of ideas and techniques used were carefully picked and intended to convey the message of sympathy for war veterans that deal with mental health issues because of the harsh treatment they receive when they return home.
I am not sure if it is okay that I separated the analysis from the actual description. I felt like there would have a lot of repetivity in my breakdowns if down that way. Apart from that though, do you think that my arguments for the intentional devices being included is sufficient, or should I be examining it deeper?
I love what you’re doing here, GiantsFan. But I also have a few observations.
The camera is fixed on someone’s kitchen. The kitchen doesn’t seem to be one that you would find in a luxurious house, it is fairly ordinary. The camera is slowly zooming in. It kind of looks as if you were walking through the kitchen. At the center of the kitchen there is a pot sitting on top of a stove. This is the focus of the shot.
0:00 I don’t get a sense of the mood. It’s dark (though day), but we don’t know if the room is cozy or oppressive. If a grisly murder were to occur here, would you be surprised? If a child’s birthday party were to be happening in the back yard, would that be surprising? This is a moving shot, as you’ve noted. If WE are the camera, are we going anywhere? Is the shot straight on, angled, shot from our own eye level. Are we looking out the window through the curtains, or . . . what’s our angle? I don’t know if these things matter, but you aren’t telling me what to FEEL, so I don’t know what the director was going for. How does the kitchen look? Cared for? There must be light from somewhere or we wouldn’t be able to see. Does the light remain constant? I see hookups for a washer and dryer in what appears to be a laundry or mud room perhaps leading to the yard, but no appliances. What does that mean?
A man is standing at the foot of his bed in his room putting on his military attire. His room is very neat. He is buttoning up his shirt as the camera begins to slowly rotate counterclockwise. The man is facing away from his bed, with a blank stare on his face. He is either looking at himself in the mirror or just staring into nothingness. When he fixes his coat he blinks twice in a row and lets out a barely noticeable sigh.
0:02 Do you get the sense that the man putting on the jacket is the owner of the house we’re in? Is that his kitchen we came from? Is this the same time of day? How can you not know whether the blinds cover a door or a window? Are the kind of vertical blinds that open and close left-right? In a house, that would mean a sliding door, right? Is there any significance to the furnishings? Is the bed made? Are things neat to echo the neatly arranged kitchen? A plant in a kitchen and an opened book are humanizing touches that make a person seem responsible, capable, thoughtful, “together.” Does the man have his shit together? What’s his mood? What’s the mood of the room? Is he putting on a jacket on his way out the door? Or is he standing still, seeing how it fits, maybe looking into a mirror or at another person? Any clue what’s in the picture frame? Before I asked if a murder or a birthday party was more likely to follow. What about here? Is this an ad for how well the Navy prepares its veterans to embark on exciting new prosperous careers? Or is this an ad for Post-Traumatic-Stress survivors? Which would seem more likely from the mood the two rooms evoke?
Thank you. Changes have been made to the observations you mentioned.
I love your work here, GiantsFan.
Always eligible for Revisions and a Regrade.