Case Study — Jay Alvarrez

Psychologist J. J. Gibson originally conceived the term ‘affordance’ in the field of psychology. However, the use of the term ‘affordance’ in the reading Design of Everyday Things (Norman 1998) is used within the field of design. An affordance is defined as the ‘perceived and actual properties of [a] thing, primarily those fundamental properties that determine how the thing could possibly be used,’ a constraint is ‘the actual and perceived attributes of an object or system that limits its possible uses (Ritchie, n.d.).’

This case study analyses this video by Jay Alvarrez –a 22-year-old model from Hawaii. Alvarrez is not just your average model, he lives a thrilling lifestyle, jam packed with adventures and travels, which he captures all on camera and shares with his Instagram followers. The video under analysis consists of Alvarrez jumping out of a helicopter and parachuting down to a spectacular coastal area in Hawaii. The video leaves you in awe and makes you wish you could live life to these standards. The following will offer an overview of what went into the video’s production, postproduction, its affordances and constraints.

Alvarrez uses GoPro camera to capture the live action of his skydiving experience. The footage is taken from two angles: one camera is kept on him to shoot his perspective of the free fall and the other angle is filmed from the helicopter to capture him as he jumps out. Everything from music, video compilation and Photoshop edits are crucial in order to make this video appealing for his viewers. The compilation of the two angles is important since his viewers are interested both in him and what he is doing. Up beat electro music is used to stimulate and to further engage viewers –without sound the video would lose its exhilarating effect. All these techniques are used for the purpose of making the video more aesthetically appealing and engage the viewer.

In terms of affordance, this Instagram video is a way for Alvarrez to market himself, to gain followers, to keep his followers updated with his life, to share the video on other platforms… it even affords him to make money, given his since high volume of viewers, likes and followers, thousands of dollars can be made for a single sponsored post from businesses. In terms of constraints, Instagram videos can only reach a maximum length of 60 seconds — limiting users to short video uploads. Users cannot upload a video from another platform. They have to be uploaded onto the server from your device or taken directly with Instagram’s camera option — which allows you to film or photograph directly onto the platform. Instagram videos can be shared privately (only with your followers) or publicly — anyone using the platform can have access to them. Producers have the option of adding a caption and tags, while viewers can leave their opinion by commenting. Instagram videos can be shared onto other platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

Reference List

Norman, D 1998, The design of everyday things, Basic Book, New York. (pp. 1–33)

Norman, D 1999, Affordance, conventions and design (Part 2), Nielsen Norman

Group, viewed April 2012,

Ritchie, J. ‘The Affordances and Constraints of Mobile Locative Media’ In Hjorth, L., J. Burgess and I. Richardson (eds) Studying Mobile Media: Cultural Technologies, Mobile Communication, and the iPhone, New York: Routledge. pp. 53–67.