Sliding Scale of Visuals Versus Dialogue
"A funny picture can save a poor joke, a good idea can save poor presentation. Getting them both perfect, however, is an exercise in futility."
When confronted with the antics of the rest of the cast, does the Only Sane Man crack a wry comment
or does he sigh and put on a long suffering look
Does a work of fiction rely on gestures, sweeping shots and visuals
to get the story moving, or does it have Walls of Text
and loads of conversations
Needless to say, this scale is completely independent of the other sliding scales.
It is not completely dependent on the medium, either, though the medium affects how the balance is perceived. Sweeping shots and visuals in TV and film translate to descriptive paragraphs in text and radio.
The examples which focus on the visuals go on the top, and those that depend on dialogue go to the bottom.
- Rather obvious, almost all silent films.
- All examples listed under Silence Is Golden.
- Next to no dialogue is spoken in Super Smash Bros. Brawl: The Subspace Emissary; the characters' actions and facial expressions do all the talking. Since a fair number of them are Heroic Mimes in their signature franchises (Mario, Link, Samus, Yoshi, etc.) this makes sense in context. However, it enters Fridge Logic territory when Snake joins the brawl... and jumps to Fridge Brilliance when Sonic does.
- Snake does have one line ("Kept you waiting, huh?") when he first appears, and is also a regular chatterbox in the normal modes if you activate his Codec.
- Many Cirque du Soleil shows are short on dialogue, and much of said dialogue is merely Speaking Simlish.
- Samurai Jack did many dialogue-less episodes, often conveying the story via minimalist animation.
- Ico. Most of what little dialog there was wasn't translated in the NTSC version.
- Also, it's Spiritual Successor or prequel, Shadow of the Colossus. The very little dialog that there is, is spoken in simlish. Without subtitles you wouldn't know what the characters are saying, not that it is needed to understand the story.
- The first half of WALL•E has little to no dialogue.
- minus probably falls somewhere around here.
- Star Trek The Motion Picture featured large stretches wherein characters would react silently to special effects sequences.
- Many of Stanley Kubrick's films, particularly 2001 and Barry Lyndon. Of course, Full Metal Jacket and Doctor Strangelove both have their share of memorable lines.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion. Visual metaphors abound, from the utterly alien design of the Angels to Mind Screwing religious symbols everywhere. One notable example is Gendo's Scary Shiny Glasses, which become steadily less scarily shiny as we get to know more about his motivations.
- Primal - Twenty minutes of expository cutscenes before the player gets to do more than just walk through the large, empty Nexus.
- The trend continues with each new world and situation.
- In between (and during) the cutscenes are mind-blowing Scenery Porn, though. Puts this kind of in the middle.
- The comic books where Hermann does both story and drawings (like Jeremiah, for instance) tend to have many pages without words.
- Works by Mamoru Oshii
- None of The Sims has any proper dialog, as they all talks simslish. You still can know what they are talking about thanks to the images in the talking bubble and their gestures.
- The Arrival by Shaun Tan, is a beautifully illustrated graphic novel. With heavy emphasis on the "graphic" part. As in, there are NO recognizeable letters or words anywhere within the body of the story.
- The comic version of 300 used two or three double-spread panels per page with few word balloons or captions. This allowed for Frank Miller's gorgeous art, colored by his wife Lynn Varely, to tell the story.
- Likewise, many Sin City stories tend to have few captions and word balloons spread along "widescreen" panels. The Yellow Bastard is one such example where you have entire pages with only a few words.
- Warhammer 40,000, although it does use the occasional mind blowingly gothic drawing to set the mood, 40k relies mostly on quotations and snippets of fluff to set the plot pieces. Good thing it's one of the most quotable pieces of fiction out there.
- The Order of the Stick, being a stick figure webcomic, relies on its characters' banter to set up its jokes and distribute its plot coupons. Sometimes a victim of Walls of Text
- Dinosaur Comics' entire gimmick is that it always has the same crappy clip art images. Fortunately, the dialogue is hilarious.
- The videogame adaptation of The Death Gate Cycle is heavily on the dialogue side. It's not so much that there aren't enough graphical depictions or whatever, it's just that there's just so much text in this game. Fortunately, it's very good text, and the voice acting on the dialogue is top-notch.
- Legend Entertainment also did several other book-to-game adaptations in the same style.
- A lot of the filmmakers who came from the American independent film scene of the early 1990's (such as Stephen Soderbergh, Kevin Smith and Richard Linklater) focused much more on clever dialogue than impressive visuals. It also helped that it cost significantly less to shoot clever dialogue than clever visuals. Nowadays, independent filmmakers can make gorgeous movies for the cost of an HD camcorder and a laptop.
- Quentin Tarantino films are usually dialogue heavy.
- Death Note. It's got pages of Wall of Text, and most of the story is characters monologuing their mind games to themselves or the group.
- Ever since dialogue was introduced into a Mario game starting with Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine is actually the only game in the series since then to feature full voice acting. By Super Mario Galaxy, everyone's back to talking with dialogue boxes and Voice Grunting. And do you know why? Talking Bowser.
- Sonichu. The author claims it's to preserve marker ink.
- Radio Drama in general is at the opposite extreme; some Exposition of the scene is often included, but it's difficult to work too much in without having people Narrating the Obvious.