A Process

The best video essays, like the best traditional academic essays, develop iteratively: that is, they are made in a number of stages with each stage incorporating time to reflect, gather feedback, and improve. The following process is one that I have found to be successful for many students. Here is a basic outline, but each step can (and should) be repeated until you feel that you have achieved the result you are looking for.

Stage 1: Brainstorming

Re-read your AVC 1 writing, your advisory report, and Paper 1. Spend 5-10 minutes with each assignment brainstorming how you would convert them into videos. Set them aside. Describe the potential videos to 2-3 other people, preferably of different ages and audience types (for example, your roommate, your boss, a grandparent or other elderly acquaintance). Set your notes aside for a day, or at least a few hours.

Decide on the kind of audience you want to appeal to. Think through what they are likely to know. Consider whether you want to use a more formal or a more casual tone.

Stage 2: Image-gathering and preliminary analysis

Return to your three ideas and select the one you think you can most effectively adapt to a video.

Spend 30-45 minutes on internet searches for images, video clips, sound effects, and other electronic elements you might incorporate into your video. Try at least 2-3 ways of ordering hte video essay elements you found.

Write a sentence or two to go with each image and describe what it is and its purpose. Is it making a claim? Evidence to support a claim? A camera technique designed to create a certain mood or tone?

Revise your initial ideal about who your audience is. Review your brainstorming and image-gathering work to make sure it is persuasive to that audience, or change your intended audience so that it is one that will be persuaded by your rhetorical methods.

Stage 3: Storyboarding

Your storyboard is a process document (rough draft) for your video essay. Make sure you save a copy for your portfolio at the end of the semester. Choose and sequence 12-18 images. Each image should have:

  1. A description of the image
  2. The image’s purpose
  3. The kind of camera shot you are using (i.e. extreme closeup, long shot, etc.)
  4. Duration of each shot

Show your storyboard to at least 2-3 other people. See if they can tell what from the storyboard what your purpose, audience, and genre are.

Stage 4: Revision and Submission

Shoot and edit your video essay. Share a rough draft with your two peer review partners for the designated AVC. Have them ask the following questions about your video essay:

Rhetorical Awareness

  • Do you have a clear sense of audience? Are you making assumptions based on your own knowledge or value system, or do you adapt your message to take into account what they might know and believe?
  • Does your tone (casual or formal) match the anticipated audience?
  • Do you answer all of the aspects of the assignment?

Stance

  • Do you make an argument? Could someone reasonably disagree with it, or is it an obvious statement of fact?
  • Do you make clear the stakes of your argument and why it matters?

Development of Ideas

  • Do you pair evidence with analysis persuasively for each claim?
  • Do you anticipate potential counterarguments and address them?

Organization

  • Do you transition between your analyses in a logical sequence? Do your analyses build upon previous points and support the overall argument?
  • Does your video essay have a beginning, a middle, and an end?
  • Does the footage sync up in a logical way with the narration?

Conventions and Design for Medium

  • Are there errors (this does not include intentional, audience-driven decisions to use casual speech) in the written or spoken elements of the film?
  • Does the text take advantage of the video essay medium by combining images, sound effects, narration, camera techniques, editing techniques, etc. in order to produce meaning?
  • Are the images and sound in the film of high quality?

After you gather feedback, write your own reflection of 200-400 words. What would you change if you had the time or could do it again? What do you feel worked well with your essay? What was less effective? What, if any, changes did you make in response to feedback?

Upload your video to YouTube or Vimeo and copy a link to the Canvas assignment page. Make sure the link works for someone other than you (you can either send it to someone else or go into incognito mode and try to access the video). Privacy settings on YouTube should be set to “public” or “unlisted.” If they are set to “private” I will not be able to view your video.

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