JCU Digital Media Lab

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Video Essays


A video essay is a short online video in which you can illustrate a topic, express an opinion and develop a thesis statement mainly by cutting and editing videos, music and images. Usually, the video essay provides a new insight on the chosen subject matter.
As Paula Bernstein stated in her article What is a video essay? Creators Grapple with a Definition, “as a relatively new media form, video essays have yet to conform to any structural guidelines, although they’ve been around long enough for define patterns to emerge: the supercut and the fan tribute, for example”. Thus, the freedom that video essays provide in creative and structural terms might be used as an advantage in academic settings – no matter the field.
Just as a regular written essay, the video essay requires a solid take-home message or thesis statement; although the structure of the video essay might be more flexible, it has to provide a central idea that the audience can grasp clearly. Moreover, in both the video essay and the written essay, it is mandatory to cite the sources used in your work. Now, as the name suggests, the form in which ideas are expressed is very different – therefore, citing will change from one medium (writing) to the other (video). You can click HERE to have a breakdown on how to cite images, videos and music in video essays.
A video essay might be very convenient in regards to class work. On the one hand professors are given the opportunity to check on their student’s work while in progress; they can also encourage independent research on both primary and secondary sources, and prevent learners from plagiarizing, forcing them to re-elaborate it instead of simply copying and pasting information. On the other hand, students can use a huge variety of material (music, images, video and text), customising it according to their own creativity – which also makes the work more fun! At the same time, they are encouraged to select and cite their sources wisely, and re-elaborating them in their short videos to present their ideas clearly.
However, this freedom might also be seen as a drawback, as sometimes students prefer to receive clear guidelines for their project, especially if they entail developing a new skill (making video essays). No worries! Here at the Digital Medial Lab we have you covered. To understand the basics of video-editing on iMovie we have created a tutorial, that you can find HERE. If you need to know how to gather material, download videos from youtube and rip DVD files click HERE to check a guide about it. Video essays can be a valuable form of academic production, and they can be brilliant and insightful in many other fields apart from Communications and media studies, here are some examples that cover all the JCU departments.

ART HISTORY AND STUDIO ART:

BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION:

COMMUNICATIONS:

ECONOMICS AND SOCIAL SCIENCES:

ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE:

HISTORY AND HUMANITIES:

MATHEMATICS, NATURAL AND APPLIED SCIENCES:

MODERN LANGUAGES AND LITERATURE:

POLITICAL SCIENCES AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS:

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