Did you know that essay writing came from the law? If you think about it more, everything is very logical. Any paragraph you need to write in an academic paper consists of a topic sentence, supporting argument and conclusion. Doesn’t it remind you of opening statements, witnesses and proofs together with the conclusions and decisions of the Jury? It is not an accident that when you read any essay guide, you meet words like “evidence”, “claim”, “prove”, “support”, etc., because this whole writing sphere derives from courts and legal proceedings. But that doesn’t mean that it is the same as it was 50-70 years ago. In fact, it’s quite the contrary – essay writing is evolving very rapidly, and there is a new form we should take into account – a video essay.
Because it is a very recent form of expression, there is no clear-cut definition. But there are some specific features that characterize this commentary:
- It is a short video published online.
- It is made of fragments of films/footages to present it from another angle.
- The purpose is to make the viewer re-imagine or re-interpret the original idea of images/videos.
- The video can be accompanied by a soundtrack or author’s comments.
The most interesting thing about a video essay is that there are still no precise rules on how to create one. It can be based on deep time-consuming research or just contain shortcuts from some film, so it is pretty difficult to evaluate such works on the same level. But this fact can also be an advantage because you are free to do whatever you want with your expression. Isn’t that … liberating?
3 Most Popular Video Essayists and Their Peculiarities
Now, let’s have a look at how it works in practice and how video essayists call out to the public.
Evan Puschak, the author of the Nerdwriter, is a frequent producer of video essays the majority of which concentrate on the works of art. But some part of his makings also deal with sociological and political analyses, so the channel can be called quite diverse. Evan Puschak popularizes video essays and presented the origin of this type of expression on one of the TED talks. Don’t miss it!
2. Kevin B. Lee
YouTube is not the only place video essayists love – Vimeo keeps up, and Kevin B. Lee uses it to the maximum to promote his ideas. This is a prominent artist who has a distinctive “blending” technique of expression – he uses only videos without any comments but succeeds to put across the main concepts. Watch his presentation on video essays in Berlin and learn more about the academic version of this activity.
Kyle Kallgren is an actor, producer, director and film editor. He played different roles in some successful TV shows, and now continues his activity in video essays. He is very expressive and comments every change of the scenery or turn of events. Check out his works to embrace his individual style.
All these three video essayists differ from one another. From their examples, you can see that video essays can look just as you want it to appear, so if you’re tired of writing long texts, try something new. Surprise your professor with essay writing: YouTube is waiting for you!