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Youtube Video Essays: Useful Guidelines

Academic writing

Essay paper writing


The notion of “video essay” is self-explanatory, but it can be misleading at the same time. According to the video essay definition, it is considered as a video content that is similar to the written essay. Although they have a lot in common, it is necessary to understand the differences between these two types of assignment.

What is a Video Essay?

Video is a powerful tool to deliver your message and showcase your communication skills, as well as your knowledge and your personality in general. Shaped as a video essay, your message is more convincing, more emotionally loaded, and more interesting than the ordinary paper. The popularity of self-made videos has increased dramatically over the past decade, and the primary purpose of this kind of medium is, still, entertainment. However, the very concept of video essay-making gains more and more popularity as an academic assignment as well.

Video Essay Ideas and main Agendas

Writing essays is an art, and so is making video-essays. It is unlikely that you can just sit down and write a good essay without a respective preparation the same as you cannot make a good video-essay only by clicking a “rec” button. If you want to make a strong and appealing video essay, you need to learn many things.

Of course, technical skills in making a video essay are very important. But before getting straight to learning them, you should develop a more profound understanding of how a combination of visual imagery and sound works. Then it would be much easier for you to determine what exactly your video essay has to include, what is unnecessary, and what is better to avoid.

Although this is a complex and time-consuming task, you should not be scared of it. If there is an option to make a video essay for submission, do not hesitate to try it as such experience will help you master the skills that are important in the modern world. For example, if you submit a video essay to the admission board before the interview, it will give you a great advantage over the other applicants with their ordinary written essays. It will also help to display your communication skills and emphasize your personal qualities and strengths that cannot be assessed in a written essay.

However, there are many people who mistakenly believe that a video essay can hide some of the mistakes and lapses of the writing and therefore diminish the importance of spelling and punctuation. In fact, this is not true, as in the video essay, you can also make word choice mistakes, use inappropriate style, or lose logical connection between statements. Unfortunately, there are too many examples of such failures. You can check YouTube video essays to see the striking dos and don’ts yourself.

Another critical issue is the way you present your material; the especially important aspects in this case are your oratory skills and general ability to behave in front of the camera. People are not born orators; these are the skills to acquire through constant learning and practicing. Take special classes, make some videos for yourself, and work on your video presentation skills. Rest assured that it will pay off and help you in the future. Consider your first college video essay assignment as a useful exercise and do everything needed to master this relatively simple art.

Auto-Recorded Video Essays

This type of video essay is the most common. A high-school or post-graduate applicant may receive a link from the admission body after a written application was submitted. Clicking on the link they give, you get to a specialized service platform where you are proposed to answer some questions immediately. Mind that your answers are instantly recorded. Sometimes, universities prefer to include your auto-recorded video in the application process. Your application is not considered complete unless you recorded and uploaded your answers.

Such auto-recorded video essays are quite challenging tasks. You cannot edit your video or start recording yourself. Moreover, you are given only 20-30 seconds to get ready, and then you should talk for one minute answering each question. The video recording service is automated and gives you only one minute to answer, so it is important to start talking after the recording switches on and stop before it switches off.

You are not given a second chance to reply to the question and respond to it differently. There should be one question and one video-recorded answer. While it might seem unfair, the admission board really wants to see how the applicants perform under pressure, which is completely understandable. They need to know you better, and your video essay gives them this priceless opportunity.

Self-Recorded Video Essay

In this case, you record the essay by yourself and then submit it for the assessment. With self-recorded essays, you have more time, more freedom, and less stress - everything you need for a better quality of your video essay. However, this type of essay is rarely used for admission as the majority of educational institutions do not pay much attention to different effects, pictures, and fancy graphics used by the applicant. They are interested in your manner of speech and personality. Even if you apply to a school that accepts self-recorded video essays, don’t be surprised to find out that they do not allow edited versions, so you can use only single-take recordings. However, the advantage of a self-recorded video essay is that you can reshoot it as many times as needed and upload the best one.

youtube video essays

Video Essay Guidelines

Feel free to use the following tips and guidelines for thehigh-school academic and post-graduate submission purposes or to go viral on YouTube and social media.

  • Make sure that the audio-visual quality of your essay is good enough. No noisy audios, and shaky selfie-style or mockumentary-style videos.
  • Put your smartphone on a tripod. Even a cheap one will perfectly do if you set it up correctly.
  • Check the frame format. You can go ahead with 16:9 frame (1280 x 720) as it looks cinematic and gives you a possibility to fill the frame with some important ambient details, for example, your bookshelves, pictures on the wall, etc.
  • Find a good place where you can be seen clearly. It is not necessary to be in the frame in your full height; eye-level angle will be enough.
  • To get some inspiration, take a look at the frame compositions used for professional interview shootings.
  • Take care of the light. There should be a proper lighting in the chosen location, and you can even use a few sources simultaneously.
  • Make sure the place is quiet, and there are no strange sounds. Listen to your audio take: there should be no pre-echo, post-echo, or audible noise on the background.
  • Practice speaking for 1 minute, avoiding too long and confusing sentences. Remember to keep it simple and do not try to use uncommon words or constructions.
  • Study the examples to learn how to structure a video essay, and then thoroughly plan yours.
  • Rehearse your performance as many times as you can. Practice, record, watch, and analyze your recordings several times. Ask your friends to evaluate them and to help with the shortcomings you may find.

Don’t Overdo It

While the abovementioned guidelines for making your video essay are quite simple, they are pretty effective. The main thing to remember is that while you should pay proper attention to your look and hairstyle, as well as your ambiance, light, and sound, it is crucial to keep in mind that your video essay is being filmed with a specific purpose. Therefore, focus on what you are going to say first, and then think about the technical part. Your video-essay is designed to present you as a confident and skillful young professional. So go ahead and show your viewers who you are!



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