Checklist for Your Video Essay

Checklist for Your Video Essay
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A video essay is aimed to explore a certain idea or present an argument. Many students don’t know what exactly their video essay should look like so experts from college-writers online writing service decided to answer some of the most common questions and created this checklist that will help everyone make a good video essay.

To create a strong video essay, you should do the following things:

  • brainstorm, plan, and research;
  • plan your examples and evidence;
  • plan the structure of your essay;
  • write the first draft;
  • source your images, videos, and audio clips;
  • edit your first draft;
  • write the second draft;
  • rehearse your script and make edits;
  • record your audio and video;
  • put your video together.

In this article, we’re going to consider each of these steps in more detail. But first, let’s figure out what a video essay is so that you can understand your task.

What a Video Essay Is

As the name suggests, a video essay is a video. However, it can also be a multimedia text aimed to present an argument or describe an idea. Video essays combine video, sound, and images, along with oral and written arguments. Video essays are a relatively new visual essay type. Usually, such essays are 4-5 minutes long, focusing on a single idea or introducing a broad subject.

Usually, video essays also include narration that helps the author explain their argument. The narrative complements the visuals so that these two elements act as one. Video essays are very engaging and intended for a wide audience.

Why Should You Make a Video Essay?

The 2019 English syllabus requires students to prepare a multimodal presentation as a mandatory assessment. Such presentations imply giving an oral presentation with visual elements. It may be a PowerPoint presentation, poster, or slides. Video Essays allow students to demonstrate a whole set of skills, including critical thinking, technological literacy, textual analysis, and writing. Besides, videos allow you to educate others, which is the best way to learn something. We recommend that you check out examples of good video essays before creating your own.

Where to Find Examples of Video Essays

Video essays are a very common way of communicating information on different topics. You can find many video essays, both long and short ones, on YouTube. We recommend that you focus on the short ones because you’re more likely to prepare them in school. Here are some channels where you can find good video essays.

  • Vox’s Earworm. This is a series of good video essays created by Vox Media. These essays focus on the history of popular musical genres and songs.
  • Every Frame a Painting. Produced by Tony Zhou and Taylor Ramos, this series addresses various aspects of filmmaking.
  • Vox Media. Vox is a great website that has many video essays on different topics.
  • TedEd. On this channel, you can find many educational video essays on a variety of topics, including essays on Roman history narrated by Peta Greenfield.
  • Just Write. Here you can find well-produced essays about literature created by Sage Hyden. All the videos are very engaging and interesting.

There are also many other channels that can help you understand what a good video essay looks like so that you can improve your own essays. Watch essays on different topics and pay your attention to their structure. Now let’s consider the equipment that you need.

What Do I Need to Make a Video Essay?

Obviously, video essays require more equipment than regular written essays. You’ll also need some software.

  • A PC or laptop. You won’t be able to work with a video without a computer.
  • A webcam. If you don’t have one built into your computer, you will need to buy one.
  • A mobile phone. There are many smartphones that allow you to record high-quality videos.
  • A microphone. You will need high-quality audio, with no noises or static.
  • A digital camera. Smartphones are good, but if you want the best quality for your videos, you can buy a digital camera.
  • A tripod. To make good videos, you need to hold your camera or phone steady. A tripod will help.

You will also need to use the right software to edit your videos and make them more beautiful.

Here are programs for video editing:

  • iMovie — an app for Apple devices.
  • Openshot — an app for Windows devices.
  • Filmorago — an app for Android.
  • Powtoon — a simple online tool for video and carton editing. It already contains some built-in animations.
  • Creatoon — a simple cutout tool for animation.
  • Adobe Premiere Pro or Rush — a great set of editing tools. It’s a great choice if you need to produce lots of video content. However, these products are expensive.

Software for presentations and infographics:

  • PowerPoint — a traditional program for presentations.
  • Prezi — an animated app for presentations that’s more dynamic than PowerPoint.

Software for digital drawing:

  • Adobe Illustrator — a program for vector graphic design.
  • Adobe Photoshop — a high-end app for image editing.
  • MS Paint — one of the most basic programs that can be used for the simplest tasks.

The Video Essay Checklist

Now let’s consider all the stages of video essay creation in more detail. First of all, it’s important to plan your essay and create several drafts, editing them and making sure that your essay will be perfect. You don’t want to edit your video essay in a rush.

1. Brainstorm, plan, and research

This is the most important step in any big project. You should determine the topic of your essay, its main argument, content, visual, and audio elements.

  • Start with the topic and decide what your essay will be about. Check your Assessment Notification to understand what you’re expected to write.
  • Once you’ve figured out what your topic will be, plan your argument. First, determine whether you agree or disagree with the given statement.
  • Depending on your point, plan the content of your essay. You should choose the right evidence and examples to illustrate your position and support it. Given that your video will be 3-5 minutes long, you should only consider the most important information. We recommend that you don’t include more than two points.
  • Plan your visual elements. You can use different visuals to make your video more engaging. Use shots from your camera. You can also add relevant still images. Include video clips of the necessary text or its adaptations.
  • Plan your audio elements. You’re not limited to narration only. For instance, you may include background music, audio clips from documentaries or other films, and sound effects.

2. Plan your examples and evidence

Before you write the first draft of your script, collect the pieces of evidence that you’re going to include in the essay and organize your examples. You may use more or fewer examples, depending on the length of the narrative speech. We recommend that you write 130 words per minute. In this case, you have to write 520 words for a five-minute speech. If you discuss four examples, you’ll have 100 words to analyze them and to explain the main idea of your video.

To pick the right examples, ask yourself a few questions. The most important questions are:

  • Does the example support the thesis? It’s important to make sure that all your arguments and examples support the key idea of the essay.
  • Can you sort examples logically? To come up with a compelling argument, you must sort examples by importance. Besides, you shouldn’t use several different examples that explain the same idea.

Your argument must be consistent throughout the whole essay and you should support it with examples, from the weakest to the strongest one.

3. Plan the structure of your essay

To plan your script properly, create a storyboard. This is a visual approach that will help you organize the scenes of your film and present them in the right order. Simply put, a storyboard performs the same function as an outline when writing regular essays. Plan the storyboard the same way as an outline, making three major sections: an introduction, body, and conclusion. Plan 1-2 shots to introduce yourself and your thesis statement. In the body, provide specific examples that support your idea. You may also include static slides here. In the concluding section, provide shots that summarize your argument. Keep in mind that you should also include a slide with the bibliography, where you need to cite all your sources, including videos and audio clips.

Draw your storyboard by hand or use various programs, such as Lucidart.

4. Write the first draft

Once you’ve planned the structure of your video essay, start to write the first draft of the script. This process has a lot in common with writing a speech. Focus on the main ideas, choose the right pace (130 words per minute), be enthusiastic, and use repetition if you want to make sure that your viewers understand you.

Keep in mind that you’ll also need to pause your speech so that the audience can focus on the video content. Your viewers need some time to process visual information. Once the script is finished, you can compile your video clips and images.

5. Source your images, videos, and audio clips

Video essays are all about visual elements. You can source video clips from Blu-Rays and DVDs, as well as from YouTube, using free tools available online. You can also sample the audio from podcasts and songs. As for images, you can source them by taking screenshots or downloading them from stock websites like Unsplash or Pixabay.

6. Edit your first draft

Editing your drafts is a necessity. First, record yourself reading the script. Annotate segments of your script that sound weird or contain mistakes. Listen to the record and determine incorrect sentences. Think about the way you’re presenting information and make sure that everything that you narrate is necessary. Don’t forget that your video essay should be interesting not only to you but also to your audience.

Match your draft with the storyboard. Make sure that your sentences have the right length, arguments are logical, all the information is relevant, and there are no unnecessary details.

7. Write the second draft

After editing the first draft of your script, write the second draft. You may feel tempted to just make minor adjustments to the first draft but we recommend that you write the second draft, rewriting big sections and improving all of your arguments. Check your notes, rewrite the draft, and ask yourself if you’ve managed to make your script better.

8. Rehearse your script and make edits

Editing isn’t a step, it’s an ongoing process. We suggest that you rehearse your script a few times and edit it, over and over again. You can rehearse your script in front of a mirror but the most effective approach is to do it in front of an audience and record it. Your audience can also provide you with valuable feedback. Ask them whether your argument makes sense, whether it’s supported properly, and how it can be improved.

Ask your audience to summarize your argument, and write down your audience’s feedback. You may want to make some changes based on your audience’s opinion. Write the final script and make sure that it has the appropriate length. Now you can record your audio and video.

9. Record your audio and video

While recording your video and audio, make sure that there’s no background noise. The volume must be not too loud and not too quiet. Besides, make sure that your video essay has the same volume from the beginning to the end. Remove any distractions that may interrupt you and try to record one take. One take will be easier for you to work with when editing the video content.

When recording video, check the lighting in the room. You want your audience to see you properly so it shouldn’t be too dark in there. When using your phone to record a video, make sure that it’s in the landscape mode. Check the position of your camera and make sure that it’s stable. You should also check the camera level so that you won’t shoot the video at too high or low angles. Besides, we recommend that you don’t shoot the video in a hurry because this process may take a lot of time.

10. Put your video together

Now it’s time to put all the elements of your video essay together. The main thing is to make sure that all the shots have the right length. Listen to your audio recording, match it with the storyboard and edit the video using some kind of editing software.

Finally, make sure to watch the video and make the necessary changes before submitting it.

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