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Video Essays: The Process

Plan - Prepare - Create

Purpose - What is your argument? What is the focus of the video?

  • Similar to the thesis statement in the written essay
  • Write it down - work with it until it is concise
  • Don't be afraid to change it as you collect your media
  • Narrow it!

Audience - Who is the intended audience of your essay?

  • Students?  faculty?  general public?
  • Will your audience require any prior knowledge of the topic? How will you provide it?  E.g. A video essay about handguns and the 2nd amendment might require prior knowledge of the U.S. constitution. International students/visitors might not have this knowledge.

What type of video? - Duration?

  • Voice over film footage - supercut/excerpts from other films - text + still or moving image?
  • What equipment and software will you need to complete the project?
    • Media Services has digital camcorders, cameras and other equipment for checkout
    • Media Lab has IMacs and editing software - select its tab in the Media Services guide to see available computers and software.

Research the topic - Write rough draft of script

  • The library has many excellent resources to help you find information on your topic. Research guides are a good place to start. Find your subject and go to the appropriate guide. The library website is also a good place to start.
  • Depending on your assignment, the video script can serve different purposes. It will serve as the source for your video narration/voiceover, and it might serve as the written portion of your assignment. You might have to rework it to fill both requirements. Always refer to the course syllabus for specifics. 

Storyboard rough draft

  • Serves as the outline for your video. Helps you organize your thoughts and makes the editing process less complicated. 
  • See the Storyboard tab above for more information.

Collect media

  • Video footage from your own recordings
    • borrow equipment from Media Services if needed
  • Excerpts of feature films/documentaries
    • software like Handbrake can help you extract these excerpts.
  • Still images in jpeg format
  • Excerpted tracks from CDs or purchased music files
  • Audio you record yourself
    • most video editing software allows you to record voiceover or add music and other sounds into the project timeline. You can also record to a file, edit it, and add it to the video later.
  • Copyright - anytime you are using the work of others, you must pay attention to copyright - see the information here for assistance or call Media Services for help. Use your own work, or work with Creative Commons licenses as much as possible.
  • Cite your sources! Remember where you found them.

Edit video and audio - Edit and polish storyboard and script

  • Use the Media Lab or your own computer. 
  • Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere, and IMovie are available in the Media Lab.
  • For audio recording/editing - Use Audacity (free download here), Adobe Audition, and Garage Band in the Media Lab.
  • Edit still images using Photos or Adobe Photoshop in the Media Lab

Media Services staff is available to help whether you are in the Media Lab or on your own computer at home.

How to Structure a Video Essay

Texting and the Internet in Video