Akosombo Dam: Evaluation

The finished video:

This is my attempt to articulate the feeling and thoughts I’ve had during the process of making this video essay, and a brief look back on it.

The process of writing the script was probably the most difficult part of this project. If I were to start the project over I would spend a lot more time on research before I started writing anything, or I’d just choose a topic I have some expertise in. I wrote the essay over a few weeks, researching as I went, and recorded the voice over in one evening. Once I recorded the audio I was stuck, I didn’t try recording bits, which was an awful idea – I really aught to work of my reading, it’s quite dull really, though the writing wasn’t much better. The voice-over content isn’t quite as personal as I’d like it to be, and it’s too long, it’s ended up being not quite a documentary and not quite an essay. I found it hard to make it personal, then talk about entire demographics, and countries, and diseases. As for the ending of the video, I don’t think there’s a strong conclusion, I don’t really assert myself or my beliefs or views – this is rectified in the textual essay. I would’ve liked to know exactly what footage I had before starting to write the essay, but I didn’t really have time to rewrite anything once I had the footage, as my dad was away until only the week before the deadline and he had the footage.

I would leave more time for the graphics, and I’d focus on creating a set of info-graphics that could be animated – again, knowing what was visually possible would definitely help with writing for such a video. Pacing of the video was also incredibly difficult, working in After Effects, on a nine minute project, on a laptop, was tricking. I’d get about ten seconds of viewing in one third resolution, then I’d have to wait, and a full render took hours, so I didn’t really have any idea how it was flowing. I did edit the audio before I started working on the graphics, but the audio alone needed faster pacing to stay interesting, whereas the video didn’t so much, yet I was working with the pacing of the audio – once I started the motion graphics my only audio editing was in After Effect, which wasn’t a fun time at all!

Despite the many flaws, I do think it’s come together quite well, and is in my opinion the best work I’ve created so far – it means something, and I didn’t force that meaning into it with ‘spring in the mattress symbolism’. My grandfather’s footage really holds everything together, and the story is compelling. I think I did the story quite effectively – but I’m meant to be a ‘storyteller’ and not an academic, so that’d make perfect sense. The motion graphics are okay, but I’ve learned a lot about After Effects while making this video essay, so that’s a benefit.

I’m sure I’ll revisit this project at some point, I’m yet to create any sound design for the video – leaving a sort of emptiness it’s hard to explain – and the motion graphics could be improved, and the audio recording, and the essay itself, could be drastically improve by adding just a hint of confidence in the writing (now I understand Akosombo Dam’s history in a more contextual way).

I guess I was creating this for myself, I wanted to learn more about my grandfather and the things he was involved in. So I probably reached my audience and I’m sure there are people out there who would be interested.


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