Tag Archives: youtube

Video Essay Models

I’m going to cheat a little bit and post two examples. But they’re both fairly short (and you don’t have to watch them in their entirety to get the point). More importantly, they both show the power of video essays in very different ways. Here’s the first one:

As you’ll see in the info section, this video was created by a college student for a class project. And while this video is certainly not perfect (I find the choice of soundtrack to be absolutely awful), I do think it interestingly shows how a digital medium (YouTube) can be used to explore itself.

The videographer used YouTube to create his driving question (why do people use youtube?), to collect data (through sending out a survey request), to compile that data (through creating the video itself), and to present the final project (through hosting the video on youtube). It seems to me that this multi-layered use of a single medium is something that is distinctly digital. That is, it is something that really could not be accomplished in other mediums.

And that’s what I find most interesting about the possibilities of digital writing—not only does it allow us to transform “traditional” texts into something else, but it opens up whole new areas of research and production that were heretofore unavailable.

The second video is something I just came across on Facebook earlier today (and I wouldn’t be surprised if many of you have seen it already as well). Here it is:

While this video is different from the one we watched above in many ways—perhaps most obviously in its production quality—it is similar in that it is using digital mediums to make an argument that would otherwise not be possible (or at least not nearly as effective).

This video not only relies on the visual footage itself to make much of its argument—both through the people walking past their relatives and through their later reactions to watching themselves—but it seems to me that it is also relying on social media in order to spread its message. Through creating a short, relatable video with a clear message, this video just begs to be shared with others (which, according to my Facebook page, it is accomplishing).

Taken together, these two videos all show the possibilities for collaboration that come through digital mediums. Both of these videos use interviews as their primary source of content—yet they are also both edited to reflect the overarching argument of the videographer. It seems to me that this type of interweaving of different voices is one that is not fully possible in static print texts, and it is one that I find to be very successful in crafting an argument.


“Sorry About That”

I watch a lot of fanvids. Videos Lawrence Lessig would categorize as “remixes” – similar to AMVs (76). In preparation for this response post, then, I went to my favorites playlist on YouTube to find a couple videos to draw our attention to. Going through my list, every 10 or so videos (…let that say what it will about how many videos I’ve favorited) there would be a “Deleted video.” I’ve made a screenshot collage of the main reason offered:


Copyright claims and infringement.

The two claims on the right were (from top to bottom) a section of the BBC Proms and an artist’s work named Kim Beom where the art was him screaming as he painted with yellow paint. The reason I watched both of these pieces on YouTube was that it was the only site where I could access them – access being a key issue Lessig drives home in his work (46).

The other two videos, however, were fanvids. I couldn’t reliably say what the work on top was, but I do remember the bottom. To summarize it briefly, a youtube user set audio from the film Step Brothers to visuals from Thor – turning the destructive and violent relationship between Thor and Loki into something funny, remixing the two works. It did not replace either film, but brought forward an amusing connection between the work. As Lessig writes of similar videos, “Their meaning comes not from the content of what they say; it comes from the reference, which is expressible only if it is the original that is used” (74). Only actual audio and visuals from both films would create the effect; furthermore, it is an original effect coming from recycled materials.

I thought it would be fun for this post to look at two fanvids about the current television show Hannibal. The first is just two minutes long (and of a serious tone) and I’ve edited the second down to approximately thirty seconds (and it is ridiculous).  I imagine that there those who don’t watch the show will view the videos differently from those that do, as a common, shared knowledge is part of the game with these videos, but for background’s sake, Will Graham (played by Hugh Dancy) is the good guy and Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) is not so good – as I’m sure you know.

And, as I talked about netiquette last week, a content warning here – Hannibal is a very graphically violent show (really gruesome murders and whatnot & all the food is people), so consider yourself warned.

Hannibal – Disney Crack Edition

I thought I would add these videos to our discussion because they serve as illustrations of youtuber’s editing and remixing capabilities. The first, a (I think) beautifully edited and mixed video, draws on the initial statement from FBI profiler Will Graham, “Don’t psychoanalyze me; you wouldn’t like me when I’m psychoanalyzed,” and basically does just that. It explores the darker elements of this character’s mind as he recreates/lives other murderers’ crimes. The song brings forward the seemingly futile effort Will makes to bury this darkness in his desire to save lives and build relationships and friendships (but he is relying on Hannibal as a friend – not the best idea).

The section from the second video flips this serious investigation of Will and the dynamic between Will and Hannibal on its head. Its darkly funny in putting together Hannibal with The Little Mermaid and it relies on viewer knowledge of both to make its point. The production value is lower and the purpose is humor. At the same time, it does have a point, which is that in the show Hannibal does put forth this sincere attitude that he is helping, in his unique way, Will Graham to become his true self. Unfortunately for Will Graham, Hannibal’s version of him is a brutal and vicious killer…

I have absolutely seen videos like these two pulled down after copyright claims have been made. So, while I think that there are certainly limitations to Lessig’s work (for example, his alarmed rhetoric around the moral ramifications of branding a generation as pirates), I think that a focused look at some of the work that people do on YouTube supports his more basic point about copyright in the digital age.