Posts tagged Video Essay
Posts tagged Video Essay
Here’s a new video essay I’ve been working on this summer, published by Fusion.
It explores the idea of the Universal Basic Income, a future where the government pays citizens just for being alive, regardless of whether they have a job.
And it touches on the nature of work and the meaning it brings into our lives.
Illusions by Animal
One of the most perfect interpretations of the video essay I have seen. A visual idea, conveyed almost purely through imagery, with the enchanting voice of Bingo O'Malley whispering poetry in your ear.
Even better, this is just episode one of eight.
My latest video essay collaboration with Fusion was published last week.
Subscribers to the newsletter will know it’s been a challenging story. Here is the final version of the script (version number 7!)
It’s one of the most popular and powerful stories of our time …that in a universe of immeasurable size…in a galaxy filled with 300 billion stars….on one of millions of planets that can sustain life…filled with 7 billion human beings… living in 2800 cities in 196 countries…that among all this…we will all…one day…meet our soul-mate.
And if you don’t believe it, then you’re the minority.
I saw one survey that said that 84 percent of young Americans believe The One is out there somewhere.
Look at Google’s archive of books and you see the word has exploded in popularity in the last 100 years.
But go back before 1900 and the word is hardly used at all…and you know why? Because it didn’t exist!
This guy - Samuel Taylor Coleridge - invented it in 1822.
So the word isn’t even 200 years old but 84 percent of us are so certain the concept’s real.
But love it turns out is a little bit more complicated…
Here’s a tender scene from one of the oldest love stories ever told. On the right is Achilles - the mythical warrior and the tragic love story between him and Petraculus is central to the plot of Homer’s epic poem The Illiad.
But there’s a great twist…something that didn’t get repeated for a long time…because Petraculus you might have noticed…is a dude.
People still argue about whether there was anything sexual between these guys, but really it doesn’t matter - the bromance was real.
And in ancient greece - a country pretty much always at war - the bond between brothers in arms was what really mattered.
People still fell in love…but romance as we know it..it’s hard to imagine but it really didn’t exist at all..and it certainly wasn’t celebrated.
That is, until a new love story came along…
So there’s this guy called William of Aquitaine…he was a Duke in the south of france in the middle ages… but when he wasn’t jousting he fancied himself as a Troubadour - a sort of medieval singer/songwriter.
And his songs sound nice enough…but they were mostly about tricking women into having sex with him, or comparing them to horses. Charming.
Then - probably stealing ideas from some Arabic poetry which was popular at the time - he switched the roles and made the woman the powerful character - so desirable any man would dedicate his life to her.
For the first time (in the West anyway) the idea of romantic love between a man and a woman became an ideal - a fantasy.. from Rapunzel to Romeo and Juliet love stories celebrated men pursuing unattainable women.
So yes, our entire idea of romance was invented by a sexist douchebag.
But now the love stories we told looked completely different…and the bromance the greeks believed in..well that was made illegal for a very long time.
Society now celebrated love and romance - with anyone really…as long as they weren’t your husband or wife!
Yes, as strange as it sounds, for most of history marriages have been more like a business arrangement, and you didn’t want feelings to get in the way.
These are wedding portraits amazingly and they’re not exactly full of passion.
Then a Dutch artist called Frans Hals painted this. And it tells us everything about how marriage changed.
Couples married for love, they held hands and kissed in public -things that had never been seen in Europe before.
Right, but then it changed again!
Because nearly 700 years later, Europe was obsessed with a novel about a young artist who falls in love with his friend Charlotte.
The only problem - and I’m sure you’ve heard this one before - is that Charlotte is already engaged to someone else
The young artist’s solution to the problem has a big impact - literally.
The Sorrows of Young Werther published by Wolfgang von Goethe in 1744 was like 50 Shades of Grey without the handcuffs. It was insanely popular - men started dressing like the main character - and some even shot themselves, in what’s considered to be the first case of copycat suicides in history.
This all helped launch the romantic movement - the most passionate but also dark version of love we’d ever seen. We assume the romantic movement was - well, romantic, but the reality was different.
Gave us some of our best art though - Keats, Beethoven, Blake…and a young poet called Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who in 1822 wrote in a letter to a friend: “To be happy in married life, one must have…a soul mate.”
We think the concept of love is something eternal and universal…but it changes all the time!
And it’s funny… each time, it seems to come from the stories we’re telling…
And isn’t that more true NOW than ever…?
Unlike epic poems or novels, movies and TV shows work best with simple stories…
And while the idea of romance has been around for a long time, now it’s been transformed into the most simple and idealistic version of all.
And now we expect our lover, our best friend, our companion AND the best sex we ever had…in one person!
Thing is…it’s not just movies…
For a hundred years companies have used this story to sell us things…
And in our age of consumerism we’ve somehow turned love itself into a shopping trip…
Swipe left, swipe right…always keeping our eyes open for an upgrade..
But with such simple and idealistic expectations are putting too much pressure on other people? And on ourselves?
So our version of love is not the first, and you know what, it’s probably not the last..
In a hundred years we might be telling a completely different love story - all we’re waiting for, is for someone to write it.
From the cutting room floor…
I’ve been working on a new video essay which is almost done. As usual, once a rough cut is done I end up reshaping and cutting shots and even whole sequences.
I’m still spending as much time as I can refining my process. One of the things I have realised just recently is that I have been mixing the creation and analysis stages of making a video essay together, which is a big no-no.
So I’ll often begin analysing a story design before I’ve even made a draft of it, and I’ll try and create and analyse on the same day. Your brain can’t switch from one to the other so easily, so now I’m updating my process to make sure church and state remain separated.
Here are a couple of shots which I dropped on Monday, after realising they weren’t essential to the story.
Deep into production on my next video essay for Fusion. I’m hoping to deliver a draft early next week.
Here are some snapshots of the story designs I’ve been working on for the story, including a script and thumbnail storyboard.
I’ve written a detailed story design analysis of the most recent video essay I published a few weeks ago.
I’ll do more of them if you’re interested!
Here are some shots from my latest video essay made in collaboration with Fusion.
The opening shot, showing the bombing of Hiroshima from the point of view of the bomb itself was an attempt to solve the problem of visualising an anecdote when you have no actual footage.
As well as solving this problem, the point of view creates an added layer of suspense, as the audience guesses what is about to happen. It also subtly punctuates the theme of the story, that history is only seen from the point of view of the victors.
Tony Zhou’s ‘Every Frame a Painting’ episode on Orson Welles’ F for Fake.
It’s a great lesson in structuring narrative for moving images. It’s best watched twice - once on YouTube, and secondly with Tony’s own editing annotations.
I’m tempted to try a similar annotation to unpick the editing decisions I make in my own video essays.
1968 points and 392 comments so far on reddit
The latest video essay kicked off a juicy debate over on Reddit. It’s really great to see people having serious discussions about the ideas and issues in the video, plus asking how to find out more. (P.S. there is)
A new video essay from delve
100 summers ago the countries of Europe collapsed quickly into war: it was sudden but also kind of inevitable. Countless books have been written since about the causes of the Great War, but in this video essay we offer an alternative history. By tracing the story backwards in time we stumble upon a very unexpected cause and discover that sometimes the most harmless of things can have terrible consequences.
Story Design & Direction: Adam Westbrook
Animation: Adam Westbrook
Additional Photography: Brett Walsh www.brettwalshphotography.com
Archive footage from the US National Archives released in the public domain
Stock footage via Videohive and Pond5
All photographs in the public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Satie’s Gymnopedie No. 2 performed by Kevin McLeod www.incompetech.com
Additional music and sound effects via AudioJungle
Story assistance from Caroline Vanier, Cody Delistraty and Chris Schaefer.
Here are the books I used in researching this essay.
A new video essay from delve.
It was the change that no-one saw coming: the idea that we could take a book, a painting or a song and send it through cables and wires and even thin air to the other end of the world - and it would be identical on the other side. But this idea underpins everything about the Information Age we live in.
How did we make such a mind bending transition into the digital world? And how does it work? It turns out it’s all based on a concept that is surprisingly beautiful in its simplicity. This short video essay explores what that idea is and tells you about the man who figured it all out.
Computers are everywhere and control almost every aspect of our lives. In the next 6 minutes you’ll find out how they really work.
Curious? Read Andrew Lih’s quick explanation of Information Theory.
Even more interested? Spend an hour learning Information Theory with this Cambridge Professor.
Super interested? Read “Information: a history, a theory, a flood” by James Gleick
A maths person? Read Shannon’s original 1948 paper which changed the world [PDF].
PREVIOUS VIDEO ESSAYS
Who really invented cinema? (Clue: it wasn’t these guys)
An impromptu experiment in doing 15-second mini-essays on Instagram. They’ll be a bit more regular than the bigger, more time intensive essays.
The Long Play Part 1: why Leonardo da Vinci was no genius
In this video I’m going to try and convince you that the great Leonardo da Vinci was actually kind of a loser. And that every time we proclaim him as a “genius” we’re actually distorting the truth about how creativity really works.
It’s a video that you want to see if you’ve ever felt unsuccessful, or that other people are more successful than you; or if you’re stressing about turning 30.