Imaging III/Brock Modules

What does ‘Diagrammatic Sequence’ mean? How is this different than a ‘filmic sequence?’

I’d also like to hear about your expectations for the semester. This can be specific to Imaging or cover the full breadth. Please post your comments with your first and last name as we know you.

posted by Tony Brock on August 14, 2005 | comments: 32 | post a comment

well, I'm not going to type that into Google and try to re-state it by changing a few words to cover up the fact that I have no way of thinking for myself. So, if I took the words themselves literally I would suspect a diagrammatic sequence to be something that shows a process for informational feedback or something along the lines of home cooking shows that teach you how to prepare a Lobster Bisque before the kids got home (assuming they'd eat it). The keywords being 'how-to'. I imagine a filmic sequence would be more like telling a story, mostly relying on the images themselves to tell what is going the plot that gives us brief clues that lead up to our complete discovery that the butler was the killer all along. The keywords being 'why' and 'what for'. Both are similar in that they are broken into steps, I think it is just the nature of the content and purpose that determine what form or avenue (diagrammatic or filmic), if you will, the message will take.
Now, as far as this semester is concerned, I don't really have too many expectations. Except for that tiny one about learning more and further sharpening my skills as a creator and informer. With that said, I'm rather comfortable with 'dark tunnels' that may or may not be terrifyingly intriguing in a Willy Wonka-esque manner (which, as it just so happens has excellent filmic presentation and typography). Oh, and if its allowed, I'd like to have some fun too! haha...i'm done for now....I'll see you all soon enough.

Posted by Travis Stearns on August 16, 2005 02:38 AM

fun = ?

Posted by Tony Brock on August 16, 2005 07:43 AM

I'll take a stab as well. My first assumption is that a diagrammatic sequence is a sequence that is mapped out by a certain direction or a certain series of events mapped by the main events, so that the sequence is dependent on order (like our photography sequences last semester). Where, on the other hand, a filmic sequence is fluid and is read and understood as a sequence on the fly. Hmmm... time to see what Google says.

Posted by Andre Thompson on August 16, 2005 07:51 AM

I think the best way for me to start this is my examining the words themselves, especially "diagrammatic" and "filmic." A diagram is (or should be) instructional, abstracted, simplified, and understood by a wide range of people, regardless of experinece or background. Things like illustrations in instruction manuals and airplane safety cards come to mind, as well as maps and blueprints - all things that present facts in a no-nonsense, simplified manner that leaves very little room for emotional expression or inturpretation. So lets call this the "denotative" of the two.

The normal pairings of things would make a filmic sequence, then, "connotative." Something that brings the viewer into the sequence, into the story, and makes them more than a casual observer of graphics or images on a screen. They would be free to overlay their own experiences, predudices, and desires onto the sequence, making it and the information it carries personal and close to the viewer. I'm thinking about more realistic images, more like a movie, and a story that draws the viewer into the peice instead of letting them sit on the side and observe. I think this would be a much more difficult direction, to engage the viewer rather than simply inform. I also think it would be much more effective.

Posted by Libby Levi on August 18, 2005 02:43 PM

My turn.

Like everyone else, my best attempt is to break the words down. My guess is that a diagrammatic sequence is the one that is more self explanatory. It would be an legible, readable sequence that could offers a methodical solution. Such as: "How do you get a pubic hair out of a wet bar of soap?" (Black & Curly, Matthew Vescovo)

I think that a filmic sequence is one that may be less frank. Its parts could have meaning within themselves, and have a different or larger meaning in the context of the rest of the sequence. This type of sequence could have little to no reason or meaning such as some of Matt Clark ('s motion work. I would think another parameter is that the timing and pacing are predefined by it's creator. A diagrammatic sequence could function at a pace defined by the user/viewer.

I think there a bunch of good examples of filmic sequences exist at Transistor Studios. The website may be a little 1980's bitmap-chique, but there is some really incredible motion work in the website that I think you guys should at least take a look at regardless of what type of sequence it is.

Posted by Jon Knox on August 18, 2005 07:30 PM

first, let me say that i am writing this without reading the other posts...that way i have a clear view of my own thoughts.

when i think of a diagrammatic sequence, i first think of the two words...diagram and sequence. diagrams make those silly bubble charts we learned about in 5th grade to aid in our writing process pop into my head, and sequence is like a comic strip...+ or - the humor. so put them together and you get a bubble chart haha funny-gram...sike...

really, i see this as being a large diagrammatic image, which means a mapping chart that give lots of information at one time in a clear way, which has sequencial events located on the chart, thus providing more information. alright, that's my best i shall read the others...

Posted by ERiCA McDonald on August 19, 2005 08:37 PM

oh yeah

the difference: filmatic sequence seems to tell a situational story, often for entertainment purposes...often containing a "plot." a diagrammatic sequence seems more informative and less storytelling...however, informative can tell a story as well, thus here lies the challenge.

Posted by ERiCA McDonald on August 19, 2005 08:44 PM

Without any research into it, based on my own assumptions, I'd say a diagrammatic sequence serves as an instructional tool, to explain how to perform a task with images instead of words, or perhaps a combination of both. I suppose a filmic sequence would try to tell a story using a series of images, like graphic novels & comic strips. It would also be more in the creator's interest to put some effort into the composition of a filmic sequence to keep the viewer's interest. I wouldn't read a graphic novel that just showed the same damn scene over & over from the same angle, distance, or point of view in every panel (though some comic strips get away with this, like Red Meat).

Posted by doug alexander on August 21, 2005 06:23 PM

My best guess—a diagrammatic sequence is used to instruct its viewer about a series of actions or events. It is filled with logical information that has been structured to form a certain opinion or outcome (why you should vote for W or how to assemble a cabinet). A filmic sequence would perhaps present the same information but in a thought provoking way. Maybe you end up with a cool skateboard instead of a cabinet or nothing at all. I also think a strong difference between them is that a filmic sequence would have empathy involved and play with your emotions on a moral level. When we go to a film (let's say Fantastic Four), do you leave the theater ready to become a cop? or do you leave happy that the team acted as one and pulled together to defeat the antagonist? or do you leave wanting to be as self-assured and successful as the Thing??? It's all filmic to me.

Posted by Jenna W. Bailey on August 21, 2005 09:23 PM

A diagrammatic sequence answers questions more than confusing the audience. It's goal would be to shed light on a subject by revealing information or clues about the subject. A filmic sequence should create more questions than it answers. You may learn about the subject by the end of the sequence, but it's as if there is more mystery created.

There is defnitely suspense in both, but I think you'd have to work harder to create it in a diagrammatic sequence.

Posted by Islam Elsedoudi on August 21, 2005 10:23 PM

Diagrammatic strikes me as a sequence focusing on information over flow. That time would be a more internal within the frames themselves rather than the pacing between frames. For instance, each frame could be allotted equal amount of viewing time but any given frame may represent a lesser or greater length of time.

Where as filmic would rely on transitions between frames and overall pacing. I imagine it would be similar to the difference between a website and an aftereffects video. In that the designer has no control over the pace at which someone views a website but they can determine each 'frame' of the site. Of course in an aftereffects video flow and pacing are firmly within the designer’s control.

Posted by rachel gamage on August 22, 2005 12:07 AM

well...honestly, i have no idea. guessing that a diagrammatic sequence would be a visual explanation of complex information or a complex idea. i would assume there would be strategic verbal explanations also? i would also think that a diagrammatic sequence would integrate information more fluidly than a film sequence, since in a film sequence the ideas are broken up into separate frames.

ok, thats my blind stab into the dark...

Posted by Jessica Willetts on August 22, 2005 06:48 PM

A diaggrammatic sequence is a drawing that clearly indicates some sort of path(s), but uses different components or elements to distinguish the outcome/flow of the path. It could be straight forward in an informative way, or abtract having numerous outcomes.

Filmic, on the other hand, is very linear...containing a beginning, middle, and end.

Posted by Stacy on August 22, 2005 07:09 PM

A diagrammatic sequence is a drawing that clearly depicts some sort of path(s), but uses different components or elements to distinguish the outcome/flow of the path. It could be straight forward and very informative, or open ended having many different outcomes.

Filmic, on the other hand, is very linear. It has a beginning, middle, and end.

Posted by Stacy on August 22, 2005 07:19 PM

I've had the wringing idea in my head that the filmic sequencing is like a whitehouse tour. The guide is very experienced and as soon as you take a turn down a restricted hallway, she calls a platoon of guards to bust you. Filmic sequencing is much less intrusive than this, but doesn't afford the interpreter to stop and delve any further. To extract more meaning from a time-based work, one has to replay the actions mentally or actually watch the presentation again. A diagramatic sequence is an unsupervised kid in a candy store. There are endless possiblilities, and the Office Door is open. The clerk went off to lunch and forgot to lock the store. A kid can feast on a little bit of all the candy or can stop at the Sugar Daddies and experience only them, seeing them in the context of the whole store.

Diagrammatic Sequences allow you to wander;

Filmic Sequences have inherent blinders.

Posted by Joshua Smith on August 22, 2005 07:49 PM

My guess is that a diagrammatic sequence is some kind of series depicted with illustrations (photos, drawings, 3D renderings) as opposed to a filmic sequence, which would be a video clip or moving representation. As for the subject of these graphics, maybe it could be a weather report, previsualizations for a movie scene, or a set of instructions (for making a model car, cooking, assembling a bike, etc).

Posted by Alex Bonin on August 22, 2005 10:10 PM

Heard y’all were discussing some of this stuff in your studio. Thought you might enjoy c/o WoosterCollective. Diagrammatic terrorism at its best:

PS. Tony, is it possible that we may get an on-going thread on here to post links and images of other inspiring work?

+ + +
Great idea! I will post a general thread for things of interest.

[ Drop your goods HERE ]

Posted by Travis Stearns on August 26, 2005 07:26 PM

Good discussion here. I like some of the threads that you guys are tugging right now especially those pertaining to temporality and framing. One thought though- as I have been reading through the thread, some polarization of these two types of sequential visualizations seems evident, and I begin to wonder why this occurs. We have had some similar questions in the graduate studio on our need to polarize discussions in order to grasp a subject. Why is this? What is it about our designer brains that makes us want to set up items through polarity? Included in our discussion has been this issue of boundary and beginning to see this demarcation, not as a line of separation, but as a unfolding or folded space itself. A place of hybridization. Of wonder. Of debate. Of discussion. A place that questions and opens debate between two views; a place of connection, rather than separation. Maybe in the initial stages of working through a problem it is easier for us to grasp abstract concepts by forcing thoughts into two camps. I understand this if I see it in direct opposition to that. But, maybe it isn't that easy, and maybe we should begin to find points of connectivity or parallel reasoning. Or maybe, when it comes down to it, the more interesting places are those that begin to suggest elements of both. For me personally, that is where that design goodness lies. Where someone is sophisticated enough to control both and put them in the same space to create something new. Challenging yes, but certainly worth it.

So, on to some more direct sequencing thoughts. What are some examples of situations where a film (or filmic sequence) begins to act more diagrammatically and vice versa? Many of you began to suggest that diagrammatic sequences were objective, simplified, denotative, without empathy, fluid and legible, compared to a filmic sequence which was characterized by a narrative, a plot structure, frame structure, temporality, and a strong presence of the author. So what results would occur when you apply the devices or structures of narrative to a diagrammatic sequence? How could the presence of the camera frame and screen frame be amplified in a film to break up "fluidity" and instill a change in pace to the viewer? Can a diagrammatic sequence evoke emotion? I must admit that I don't have the answers to many of these questions, but I am interested in the space where this type of event occurs. This is that messy place. This is that place that is fun to fall flat on your face trying to figure out how it works. We should not fear this space, but grab a shovel and start digging into.

Last thoughts very quickly. I am very interested in the relationship between authorship and objectivity in relation to visual diagrams. I am also interested in this idea of the perception of authority and trust that seems evident within online environments and in this case, diagrams, charts, mapping, and other visualizations. It is interesting that within the thread it came out that a diagrammatic sequence is something that is objective or denotative whereas a filmic sequence is somewhat connotative or subjective. The posts seemed to suggest that the hand of the author was more prevalent or noticeable in film than in a diagram or other visualization. Remember that both have authors, and that both are constructions of reality. They both represent time through a visual representation. A designer or illustrator had to create that diagram from something. That decisions on what would be represented, erased, transposed, translated, and framed had to be considered.

Anyway- I enjoyed reading the posts and hope to continue this discussion for a few more weeks. Glad to see you guys are discussing this. It has helped me get re-energized about a topic I find compelling. More thoughts to come after your crit. Thanks for letting me participate.

Posted by Jason Toth on October 3, 2005 10:17 PM

to me, both of these sequences tell a story.

a diagrammatic sequence "feels" like it should be more instructional- THE DIAGRAM.
but maybe not?

the idea of the filmic sequence seems largely romantic.............more visceral

it seems from our discussion last thursday that you've got to incorporate a little of both [salt + sugar] into a diagrammatic sequence in order to be successful. people read a diagram with their head, but if you can engage their emotional side as well, you've taught them something on a deeper level.

more later >
could we start a new thread each week to talk about what happens in class and what we are thinking?

+ + +

here is the thread

Posted by lauren on October 25, 2005 09:43 AM

The following is a look inside the brain of a design student who takes nothing but design courses and therefore has difficulty writing and speaking (not to mention doing math porblems):

Anywho—stab #1

My guess at the difference between the two would have to start with an explanation of what I think a filmic sequence is: A filmic sequence, I think, is an order of events—logical or not—put together to create broad overview and description of a process.

A diagrammatic sequence then becomes an extraction of a filmic sequence to create a more specific and detailed description of the same sequence or portion of the same sequence. For example; a filmic sequence might be a series of 5 photographs illustrating someone eating an apple (biting, chewing, swallowing, etc.) A diagrammatic sequence, on the other hand would be a single picture illustating the path of the apple through the digestive system.

I think also that these terms operate on a sort of spectrum or sliding scale, that each are on opposite ends but can, of course, overlap.

Posted by Matt Balla on October 25, 2005 10:01 AM


let me start with just SEQUENCE: (possibly cause & effect, if not, the viewer forces a relationship- as we talked about today). not to be confused with SEQUINS, which, interestingly enough, are usually sewn in a line or one after the other.

so a diagrammatic sequence probably holds a lower degree of representation than a filmic sequence: i would suppose filmic to be more visually descriptive than a diagrammatic sequence. also, isn't a filmic sequence more necessarily linear than a diagrammatic one? couldn't a diagrammatic sequence have a radial form, or leave the viewer with more choice about the path your eye takes or the order in which elements are viewed? (although, by my understanding in most cases the designer would want to control said hierarchy)- maybe i'm thinking too literally about the word "film"...

until next time

Posted by Amy C on October 25, 2005 03:30 PM

I think that a diagrammatic sequence is sketch or a plan that diagrams or shows how something work or conveys an idea. It gives information about how all of the parts are related to each other and work together as a whole. It could be a chart, or maybe even a graph if dealing with something mathematical. It is something to be explored at one's own pace.

A filmic sequence on the other hand must be view at the pace of the artist who creates it. It has an obvious opening and ending and relys upon transitions and video to convey either a story, lesson, instructions, etc.

Posted by Rachel van Dokkum on October 25, 2005 10:36 PM

While I understand and recognize the differences between diagrammatic and filmic sequences, and the characteristics that are inherent to each (as have been highlighted and expanded upon by all previous posters [ones who post]) I can't help but feel the need to continue the discussion started by JT about similarities between the two, and how they can/do co-exist.

The first example that comes to my mind is the Eames's promotional/educational video for Polaroid's SX-70 camera. Through the film/diagram, they tell the story of the ease and marvel of the camera while showing, in great detail, how the camera operates at the smallest level. The camera actually goes inside the casing of the camera to expose all of the moving parts. The camera isolates certain parts and shows how these parts relate to all the other parts of the photographic process.

This is the only example that comes to mind at the moment, but I'd be interested to see what other examples people have seen. What about showing football plays/routes with real people (think nfl highlite reels, pause and the white lines diagramming receiver routes). That was for you Lauren.

Posted by Ryan Cook on October 26, 2005 01:33 PM

i would say that i diagramic sequence is print and a filmic sequence is motion....
.... too obvious?

i like class so far. it refreshes me. i hope that i become less jaded/negative this semester. there seemed to be no hope for that until this class.

Posted by Leigh Spahn on October 26, 2005 09:09 PM

I believe diagrammatic squence means presenting information in way that clarifies and compares relationships. The parts of this relationship have been disected and ordered in a certain pattern to represent a greater vision. Just because it has been clarified though does not mean it has been simplified but can still remain as complex as needed.
A filmic sequence relies more on context and comparisons. It represents a relationship between parts but must be supported by external matter. It also relies more heavily on transitions and meanings.

Posted by Whitney Barnes on October 26, 2005 10:02 PM

My understanding is that a diagramic sequence presents the viewer with a definite series of events in hopes that in the end he/she will arrive to a greater understanding of those events. A filmic sequence might evoke more of a feeling than a dissection of its subject

Posted by Paul Venuto on October 27, 2005 02:16 AM

oh is where i post and what i post about.
Diagramatic sequence: information (visual, text) presented in a clear and concise format. Form and context, content that draws the audience into this space, and lets them explore and learn about the topic at hand.

Film sequence: this format lends to a more linear cause and effect sequence, the viewer gets the information as given. should still be a experience that lends to a higher understnading of the content at the end of the film, or not. establishing shot draws the viewer in more so than the overall look, like the diagramatic sequence.

Posted by Emily Pfahl on October 27, 2005 09:10 AM

the past several weeks have allowed me to see the interplay between the two types of sequences...

i feel like i focused too long on a more image based, cinemagraphic approach, and now i've added the text and that got out of hand too. but at least through this process, my sensitivity to the interchange between the two has become more refined.

+ Jason asked the question 'can a diagrammatic sequence provoke emotion?' that is exactly what i am *trying* to do right now. still a work in progress, but progress nonetheless.

+ and i think football highlight synthesis is a MOST excellent example :)

Posted by lauren on November 16, 2005 06:13 PM

Adressing Lauren's mention of Jason's question:

"Can a diagrammatic sequence provoke emotion?"

Absolutely. I think what is interesting and deserves the most attention is how much emotion is provoked by the choice of imagery/construction of the sequence as oppposed to the context of the information. Using Lauren's topic as an example, there is emotion that is aroused simply because we have an understanding of what the atomic bomb has done and can do. That's not at all to say that the power of Lauren's sequence rests on the inherent emotional power of the topic, but rather on her choice of imagery and how those images relate to each other in the space. One of the most emotionally powerful sequences in Lauren's piece (mostly diagrammatic in nature but, yes, it could be classified as a cinematic sequence as well) is the image she had photocopied large scale of the expanding mushroom cloud over what I remember to be several milliseconds. Showing diagrammatically what was happening within that short span of time, I think, gave an emotionally powerful depiction of the power of the atomic bomb.

Posted by Ryan Cook on November 16, 2005 08:36 PM

I'm having the complete opposite problem of Lauren. I have lots of diagrams and information in my poster, but it is lacking the transitions. I'm trying to explain so many of the aspects about my process, that's its kind of lacking a starting point. Not only that but I have yet to capture the spiritual aspect of henna which is kind of what holds the whole thing together. Tony keeps telling me I have all the parts but I'm struggling so hard at fitting them together in away that makes sense and brings out all of the ascpects of the process. I should have heeded his warning at the beginning that cultural processes would be harder to diagram than a more scientific one, but I wanted to do what interested me.

Posted by Rachel on November 17, 2005 10:07 AM

Rachel- i thought the globalized aspect of the henna history was really interesting.. the idea of mapping an organic pattern against the lines of the world is aesthetically appealing to me, and I leave the diagram learning something about the origins of henna/.

you have an opportunity to exploit the idea of multiple entry points in that sense, where there are these great little moments,stories, and facts at certain points...(duplicity of filmic+diagrammatic)

remember also i think Tony said at one point that this doesn't have to be 100% factual, but it must be 100% believable :)

(if that's incorrect, please edit away........)

Posted by lauren on November 17, 2005 03:57 PM

thought this might be an interesting link relating to information design. well, it's just down right interesting...

make sure you check out the slide show for better pictures.

Posted by Ryan Cook on November 18, 2005 11:20 AM