Videography as Design Nexus : Critical Inquires into the Affordances and Efficacies of Live-action Video Instructions

Abstract: This thesis is about live-action instructional videos (LAVs). By addressing design problems with respect to the how-to video genre, the thesis asks fundamental questions about mediated instructional communication efficacies and the factors that either obstruct or augment them. The analysis presented in this thesis is based on the notion that videography is a design nexus and key focal point of the connections that make live-action video instructional efforts possible. This Design Nexus is explored by defining and illuminating key ontological dimensions, medium specificities and the video users’ cognitive capacities. This is to acknowledge that the users of instructions in this thesis are center stage, both as biological and cultural beings.The methods used in this thesis and its associated papers are eye-tracking, video observations, questionnaires, self-reports, focus group interviews and YouTube analytics. Hence, both numerical data and non-numerical data are analyzed in this study.The results of the analyses indicate that pre-production planning is key in live-action video instructional endeavors, but not at the expense of the videographer’s status as designer. Moreover, the analyses show that users’ cognitive processing and visual decoding depend on the power of the live-action format to show actual human behavior and action. Other presented evidence seems to infer that LAV-instructions are a little less demanding if users apply a focused decoding style when interacting with them. Nevertheless, physiological engagement of this kind is likely not to fully compensate for users’ psychological engagement.This thesis contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of humans’ abilities to interpret the actions of others via medial means. By relating this to video medium-specific affordances, this thesis also furthers important efficacy distinctions and boundary conditions. This understanding is considered important for live-action video makers and designers of visual instructions as well as scholars who need to develop better methods to assess users’ behavioral engagement when they interact with digital instructional media.