One of Karl Rove’s objectives for his Sforzian backdrops was “to set up picture so that if the television sound is turned down, that it gets across what it is the President wants.”
With this new ad, “Firms,” [direct YouTube link, in case you’re seeing a freakin’ Swedish bike helmet fashion show up there instead, which, #iframewtf?], the Obama campaign has turned Rove’s formula on its head.
Sure, the sound-off visuals get the point across just fine: dolly shots of news stories of Romney’s outsourcing and, apparently, job-destroying history set into depopulated locales: closed factories, empty conference rooms, and abandoned parking lots–and then headlines about his Cayman Islands accounts are tucked into shots of isolated beaches.
But the only sound is Mitt Romney himself singing “America the Beautiful.” Which they’ve tweaked ever so slightly to match the ambient aural quality of each shot, giving the sense that Romney’s singing in each place. Even without the visuals, you get a visceral feel of Romney wandering alone across a desolate America, singing to himself.
As a filmmaker/reader at Talking Points Memo describes the effect,
[P]lacing Romney’s voice in the various locations builds the implication in the mind of the listener that Romney is present and witnessing it. It’s almost like he’s in America’s front office, singing into a PA microphone while the building rots. This highlights another feature of sound design: it’s a good way of giving people information in such a way that they don’t even know how they know it. You see the ad and there’s no cognitive speed bump to keep you from concluding that Romney was there in that empty factory, or there in the abandoned conference room, or there sipping Coronas on a beach in Grand Cayman.
Well, I know that’s the ad it most resembles, but he probably wouldn’t be sipping a Corona. But it’s a good point. And I think I may have a new ringtone.