The Disney Annotators Project was designed to immerse students in close textual analysis of film in a condensed summer course. Together, students created a digital video annotation project using Scalar, a publishing platform developed by the Alliance for Networking Visual Culture. I sourced videos of Disney shorts from YouTube and Critical Commons, and uploaded clips from feature-length films to Critical Commons. This content was organized according to the course’s loosely chronological structure. The three units of the course corresponded to three “paths” in the Scalar project: the early Disney path featured Plane Crazy (1928), Egyptian Melodies (1931), Mickey’s Mellerdrama (1932), and The Three Little Pigs (1933); the classic Disney path contained clips from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937), Bambi (1942), and The Living Desert (1953); and the contemporary Disney/Pixar path included clips from The Little Mermaid (1989); Beauty and the Beast (1991); Toy Story 2 (1999), Ratatouille (2007); and Wall-E (2008).
During each unit, students wrote critical commentary on a video of their choice from the given path, and embedded it in the shot, scene, or sequence it described. During the last unit, students also tagged videos with keywords related to the course’s central concepts (e.g. individualism, plasmaticity, anthropomorphism, capitalism). The finished product was a collection of conceptually linked clips that, when played, have a running textual commentary. In an anonymous online survey after the project’s completion, students reported that the project improved their understanding of the aims of visual analysis; encouraged them to write well to an audience of their peers; and provided an opportunity to produce digital work that is highly relevant to their studies in Visual Culture and Communication. Click on the thumbnails above to see screen shots from each of the paths.