Taking notes effectively from movies and TV shows

I’ve been thinking this week about taking notes from movies and TV shows effectively.

This is a challenging medium for me.

With books, I usually read on my Kindle. It’s easy to highlight things and then export those highlights into my Obsidian using Bookcision.

With articles, it’s a similar setup. I can highlight articles in my browser using Readwise and then export those highlights into my Obsidian.

I can highlight using a similar setup with articles using the built-in transcript feature, even with Youtube videos. (On Youtube, if you click the three dots next to the “Save” button, there’s an option to “Open transcript.” This opens an interactive transcript next to the video with timestamps, and it highlights the transcript as the video progresses. The timestamps can be removed if you click the three dots in the “Transcript” window and select the option to “Toggle timestamps.”)

Movies and shows seem to disappear faster and more unexpectedly than other media. But some of these inspire a lot of thought, so I don’t want to lose them.

This past weekend, I started experimenting a bit.

As we watched Inventing Anna and Attack on Titan, I had a paper notebook and kept relatively detailed notes on critical events.

This was quite a bit of work. It’s easier to re-watch something because then I know what to look for. It’s also easier when things are in English or when the show is dialogue-driven (otherwise, I miss too much when I look away from the screen to write down notes).

I also haven’t figured out what’s the most effective thing to record:

  • Direct quotes? This is most familiar as it’s what I use most from my other forms of media.
  • A brief plot summary? This would be most efficient both to create and to consume later.
  • A detailed plot summary? This could help me distinguish when specific events happened, especially for shows that follow multiple characters or span numerous timelines.

(This also has me wondering if I’m looking for a silver bullet. 🤔 Maybe my notes will vary on a case-by-case basis.)

As much as I love direct quotes, I have a few concerns.

Are they as effective with fiction as they are with non-fiction? Most of the direct quotes I use are related to non-fiction. I’m not sure I can apply fiction quotes in the same way.

Also, some quotes stand on their own. For example, I recently posted a Twitter thread as part of Ship 30 for 30 (my discounted/affiliate link) with many quotes from Arcane.

But not all quotes stand on their own. Many quotes require the context of the plot, the situation, the characters, etc., to be meaningful.

I recently finished reading The Body Keeps The Score. I’d love to take some time to do a bunch of writing about trauma, and a lot of my thinking about it draws connections to shows such as:

It would be great (and more efficient) if I could create notes for those shows instead of re-diving into each of them whenever I want to reference something from them in my PKM.

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