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Animoto Advertisements

Imperialism in Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now
To see a completed project from one of my students, click here.

Introduction: I must give credit where credit is due. The idea of a visual essay came out of my work with CITYterm at the Masters School, and my introduction to Animoto was from our school's technology department. The combination of the two is brilliant, and it allows students to think about the structure of an essay in a unique and often eye-opening way.

Text: Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (though any text with some kind of political message would work well)

Grade: I do this with my juniors and seniors. The bulk of the work is done before Animoto ever gets involved (selecting images, quotes, and music). Animoto itself then does basically all the work for you.

Difficulty: Moderate


For this assignment, you will be synthesizing your knowledge of both Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now and creating a brief television advertisement, comprised of several visual images and quotes, that is either pro or anti imperialism. You will be using Animoto ( for this project. (Educators: Please note that Animoto is a pay service; however, they have good rates for school packages.)


1.    Your advertisement must contain at least three quotations from Heart of Darkness. (Please note: Animoto limits you to very brief phrases.)
2.    Your advertisement must use instrumental music, a song, sound effects, or some combination of all three to underscore the visual images. (If you’d like to get really creative and design your own soundtrack, I’ll be happy to lead you through the basics of GarageBand on a Mac.)
3.    Your advertisement must contain at least ten visual images but no more than fifteen.
4.    Your advertisement must speak for itself; you cannot tell us what you wanted it to say before you play it.
5.    Your advertisement must be completed in Animoto, and you must e-mail the completed video to me ahead of time to make sure it will work properly in class on the day of our presentations.

Where to Begin:

As with any essay-like project, the first step is determining your point of view: are you pro or anti imperialism? Once you have determined that, the next question to ask is why? Now that you know what you think and why you think it, the task ahead of you is to find those visual images and brief quotations that will support your thesis. You should find far more images and quotes than you think you will need; this will give you the opportunity to select only the best ones.

The Images:

In this assignment, images largely take the place of words. Therefore, once you have the images, you must take into consideration everything you would with an essay. The following is a list of important questions for you to answer as you design your advertisement:
1.    What is your thesis image? In other words, which image best answers the question “why”?
2.    Where do you place your thesis image? (Hint: It doesn’t necessarily have to come right at the beginning… think about an essay that contains a “hook”.)
3.    Which images are the beginning, middle, and end?
4.    What is the logical flow of ideas? Which image should follow another, and why?

Author's Statement:

Your author’s statement should be a single (typed, double-spaced) page in length, and it should address your basic thesis, what you thought worked well, and what questions you still have about your advertisement.