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Tracking London’s Great Plague

By , on 11 May 2009

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mgLFDF5HSc]

Posted by Erin Sullivan

6 Responses to “Tracking London’s Great Plague”

  • 1
    Carole.Reeves wrote on 15 May 2009:

    This is a nicely written and compelling story which would benefit from more imaginative use of the imagery. I like the opening sequence and stark use of the bills of mortality figures against the blackness of death. The lovely woodcuts, the parish map of London and the Bills of Mortality pages, however, are lost in this vast background. At one point, the narrative leads the eye from church to coffin to searchers, and this would more effectively be accomplished through a rostrum effect (tracking across the image). I was intrigued by the searchers, for example. What were they wearing, did they look aged or poor.
    Similarly, I wanted to read causes of death on the bills, etc. It’s more informative and compelling to focus on the small but readable than to include the large and frustratingly inaccessible.

  • 2
    S.Kuriyama wrote on 15 May 2009:

    The opening is brilliant, the narrative is crisp and lucid.
    Two suggestions: 1. as a general rule, it is a good idea to maximize the size of images–even when dealing with full-screen PPT/Keynote presentations; it’s important that the relevant details be not only visible, but vivid.
    2, in the segment tracing the flow of information, the use of a graphic chart, with boxes and arrows appearing to mark the various stages, would make it even easier for the viewer to follow and remember the circuit being described.

  • 3
    Erin.Sullivan wrote on 16 May 2009:

    Hi everyone, thanks very much for the very useful feedback. I definitely agree that there’s a big problem with the image size / quality. One very useful lesson I learned from making this piece is that the way it looks on my personal computer screen is not necessarily the way it will look when converted to a file for YouTube! I made the whole thing using MS Powerpoint 2001 and a Skype microphone, so it was definitely a low-fi affair. Finding a way to convert this to a video file for the internet was tricky, and a lot was lost in the transfer (most importantly image quality but also the smoothness of the effects). Still, I’m proud of the work I did and I’m hoping to revise and improve it soon! Thanks again for your comments, it’s great to hear what others have to say.

  • 4
    Kim.Price wrote on 21 May 2009:

    The opening narrative is really captivating and well cast to the subject in hand. Apart from the image-size, already commented on, the film works extremely well. It demonstrates clearly and lucidly the historian’s use of various documents and brings the methodology to life while avoiding just showing. It packs a lot into 5 minutes without becoming too much and really does convey the subject in hand in a very informative and clear way.

  • 5
    Mike Stanley-Baker wrote on 25 May 2009:

    Hi Erin; I love the cleanness of the black and white style, and your use of the morality bills, which bring the subject to life. Your narrative is clear and the topic concise and focussed. The narration at the beginnning is great too, very dramatic, and the final image is a lovely conclusion. The map was also quite interesting – I wanted to look more closely at it.

    Some sound effects, like bells and street noise might have made a nice background at some points. Well done working through all the software issues, too!

  • 6
    R.MacFarlane wrote on 25 May 2009:

    I’m in agreement with the other comments. Taking an individual letter, describing the plight of a particular family, before widening out through the Bills of Mortality, adeptly captures the Plague’s spread through London.

    The video acts as a fine introduction to the topic, and just like Carole, I’m intrigued to know more about the searchers!

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