TPM Reader JB joins in on the discussion of the Obama ads:
I’ve been following all the (deserved) gushing about the new Obama campaign ad but wanted to point something out that is getting missed.
I’ve been teaching design and advertising over in the UK for a few years now after a decade in the industry on the client side … One thing I stress to my students is that focussing on learning the software is missing the point. And sadly design education (and industry) has become too much about the tools and not about the thinking. Hence all the investment in blue screen virtual reality, flashy graphics, and window-sized touch screens on news programmes instead of, you know, journalism.
As has been pointed out, so many kids these days are growing up using photoshop, Motion, FinalCut etc, cutting their teeth in free video and sound production tools like iMovie and GarageBand that you can’t help but trip over people who can put together pretty slick videos and sound edits.
What’s rarer, and where the real value lies, is being able to come up with good ideas. And that doesn’t mean believing the myth of creativity, that great ideas are as rare as rocking horse shit and will come in a flash of inspiration. They’re the result of hard work and, most importantly, keeping your eyes and ears open.
To produce a good political ad you need to live and breathe politics. You need to know how to sum up complex ideas in 30 seconds, and have the ability to write hard hitting copy that nails the point. A good idea almost directs itself — which isn’t to denigrate the skills of the editor and sound team on this ad because they did a great job. The sound picture and the juxtaposition of images with Romney’s singing is killer. But all that is simply realising a great idea. And without a great idea, it would be nothing. Great ideas don’t just come out of nowhere.
So what’s getting missed in all this discussion is that the sound and the imagery are part of the package that is “the idea” and whoever came up with that — an individual or a team — should be very pleased with themselves. I suppose what I’m saying is don’t forget the creativity in all the praise for the technical stuff.
As I’m sure you know at TPM, being able to type isn’t a qualification for being able to write.
David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.