delve shouldn’t be here
delve doesn’t really belong on the noisy, social web. My videos are not nearly as enticing as a cat video; they do not simplify topics into lists and they don’t try to explain everything you need to know in 90 seconds or less.
They make you wait a bit longer to understand the big idea. Sometimes they start slowly or take a winding detour; and they always ask you to concentrate.
Like I say, delve doesn’t really belong. Most people who see it on YouTube or Vimeo don’t get it, but hopefully if you have made it all the way over to this quiet, out of the way, part of the internet you’re at least a little bit curious.
My name is Adam and I am a professional video essayist.
I am very lucky. Every day, I get to pile through books and discover things I didn’t know about history, science, philosophy, or something else entirely.
Then I work my ass off for several weeks to turn the knowledge I have uncovered into short videos. I call them video essays.
Each time my mission is the same: to make something complicated (or seemingly boring) completely and unashamedly fascinating. I use a box of narrative and visual devices to do this (which you can learn more about over here).
Then I put them up on the noisy, social web, for free and without advertising.
you’re very rare
My hope is that more people will carve out a bit of time in their lives to feed their mind a little feast of wisdom and serendipity.
But right now this little part of the internet is very quiet indeed. Our busy digital world does not reward or encourage deep thinking, learning for the sake of it, or a little bit of reflection.
That is why making time to do it is so important.
delve doesn’t belong because it’s made for a world that doesn’t exist yet. I hope one day that will change.
If you’ve read this and feel like this matters to you too, then you can sign up to the mailing list - it’s the private place that only the die hard fans go to.
Thanks for reading, and for watching. If you'd like to email me you can click here.
Frequently asked questions
Why does delve exist?
Sometimes I say that it’s a project to share knowledge more widely by making complex ideas fascinating. And sometimes that it’s my attempt to make history relevant to our modern world. Both are true.
But probably the most honest answer is that delve is a vehicle. It’s something I have created that forces me to practice telling stories regularly and enables me to share them with other people.
I spend a lot more time on the process of story design, and becoming a better storyteller than on other things like branding or social media.
What is story design?
Story Design is the intentional application of a small number of principles to the telling of a story. I am learning what these principles are as I go along. It adds discipline to the process and avoids me using the first idea that pops into my head.
Instead of trying to explain an idea logically and predictably, I work to weave a narrative full of mystery, intrigue, surprise and suspense, that leaves you with an emotional idea.
What is a video essay?
Video essays take many forms. The most popular is the film-analysis-through-video, where a film or cinematic technique are deconstructed by showing clips from movies. You can watch some here.
Another category is the essay-but-in-video: someone tries to make an argument or convey an idea but through the medium of video rather than words. delve falls into this category.
How many people are involved in making a video essay?
It’s just me! I do everything myself from researching to story design, the voice recording, animation, sound design and final animation.
What software do you use?
I use a variety of programs to bring an essay together. At the start I use iA Writer and Evernote for research and story design. I use Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to prepare images, and Adobe After Effects to create motion graphics animations. I use Audacity and Garageband to edit audio, music and my voice recording, and finally bring it all together in Adobe’s Premiere Pro.
Where did you learn to do all those things?
For the most part I am self-taught, either through online courses like Lynda.com, through the many free tutorials on YouTube or in as many books as I can find.
I also trained in broadcast journalism in a previous life which probably helps a little bit.
How do you find your ideas and stories?
With only a couple of exceptions, in the library! Every delve video essay begins with a book. Either I am inspired by an idea within a book or I try to adapt the idea behind the book in a visual way.
I usually lock myself in a library for a day or two at the start of each project reading as much as I can around an idea.
What do people say about delve?
Not that many people know about delve but those that do seem to like it. It has been compared to the iconic BBC series Connections and described as a visual version of Radiolab.
It’s been featured in Fast Company, BrainPickings, Kottke, Aeon Magazine and on Open Culture.
In 2015 delve was named one of the top science and education channels in the 19th Webby Awards.
Colin Hanks tweeted his appreciation and Kobe Bryant once phoned me up to say he’s a fan.
How can I support your work?
I really want to find ways to let fans support delve and be more involved in the projects. I will be launching a campaign on Patreon in 2015 to allow people support the making of video essays directly.
If you can’t wait, the easiest way to donate money is through the Tip Jar on one of my videos on Vimeo, for example, this one.
You can also join my free mailing list and help spread the word by sharing my video essays far and wide!
Can I keep in touch?
Yes, the best way is to join my mailing list, where you’ll be the first to hear about new videos, and get personal updates on how I am doing. I love receiving emails from readers of the mailing list.