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Video Essays

EN361: Alternative Lifeworlds / Group Video Essay

Due: Week 10, Term 2

Downloadable Version of this info:  

The video project is a form of assessment that includes group and transmedia skills. In this, you are asked to work with others to produce a short film that will be a form of creative critical work, creative in the sense of not being limited to the form of a conventional academic expository essay, but critical in the sense of being driven primarily by an expository essay’s goals of intellectual presentation and persuasion.

A few key rules:

The expectation is that this assessment should require no more than 1 week’s work. This is not meant to require the longitudinal preparation of a written essay.

The mark you get will be given to all members of the group. It is a collective mark. The division of labour within the group can be varied. Some might not appear on screen. Some may help with the editing, but not necessarily the “script,” and so on.

The mark is not given based on aesthetic or technical skill in film-making. Some groups may have more complex mis-en-scène, others might simply prepare a script that is read by a single person to the camera.

• As with the above, the working assumption is that it will be filmed with a mobile phone or tablet’s camera, and does not require any more additional equipment (lenses, lighting, etc.). If none in your group has a phone or tablet, then video equipment can be borrowed from IT services: https://warwick.ac.uk/services/its/servicessupport/av/equipment/. Full computer access is also available in the Learning Grids. You can of course be more technically ambitious if you have those skills and that equipment available to you.

• Your group is not required to gain pre-approval of the project.

What you need to do

Create a video project 3-6 minutes in length (minimum length 2 minutes 42 seconds; maximum length 6 minutes 18 seconds). The video should be a creative-critical presentation on one of the following topics:

The Alien

The Weird

The Future/Futurism

Technology

Climate and/or the Environment

The Animal

The Post- or Non-human

Time and/or Space

The Body (gendered, sexualised, racialised, genetically altered, etc.)

Cognition

Science

Dystopia

Transformation(s)

The video should have a title and should include some credits that list the names and student IDs of your group (this can just be simply a shot of a handwritten or word-processed sheet).

Groups should be between 3 and 6 in size. By week 7, you should have self-organized into groups. Anyone not in a group can consult the tutor, who will help arrange for inclusion within a group.

The video might be in the form of “original scripted content” or combine aspects of a “video essay” which integrates clips of other videos or stills (which need to be cited, much as would be a quotation in a textual essay).

Handing it in

When the video is made, send the tutor a link (dropbox or other cloud storage, which may be the university’s own at myfiles.warwick.ac.uk, etc.) so that s/he can download the file to a computer.

You may alternatively upload it to youtube or vimeo, BUT make your video is set to ‘private’ and include the link and password in your email. It is vital that at least one member of the group backs up your video essay using a memory stick or other storage drive.

Important: in order to ‘submit’ your assignment on Tabula, which is where you’ll receive your comments and mark, you will need to upload a submission statement. This should take the form of the sentence below uploaded as a Word document or PDF (the point of this is to both identify which group you were in, and to make sure you submit it before the deadline so that you can get your comments and mark back in a timely way):

'I confirm my group has submitted the video essay ‘[insert your title here]’ to the module tutor within the assessment deadline.'

A few tips for effective video essays

If you are using voiceover make sure that you speak clearly and that the pace is right (the audience needs to be able to follow what you are saying).

Avoid combining voice over with footage where other voices are present; this will be hard to follow for the viewer.

Try to produce or select visual evidence that convincingly supports the theoretical point you are introducing. As a rule of thumb, less can be more, that is, don’t ‘overload’ your video essay so that it becomes hard to identify the key insights. A few well-chosen images/scenes with in-depth commentary can be more effective.

If you choose text overlays to introduce theoretical concepts and quotations (recommended), make sure you give the viewer enough time to read these quotations before moving on.

Avoid text overlays while another voice can be heard in the footage talking about something else (this is challenging for the viewer).

Play your video essay to a friend or classmate to make sure it makes sense to another viewer.

How is a video essay different from a traditional essay?

The video essay is a short visual argument or exploration. Typically a video essay will make use of original filmed material and/or sequences from film or television in conjunction with text or images or voiceover, and scholarly quotations, in order to analyse a concept, image or idea.

Kevin Lee, a prolific video essayist (whose work can be found at Fandor and elsewhere) defines the later kind of video essay as follows: ‘These videos take footage from films and reconfigure them using editing, text, graphics and voiceover to reveal startling observations and insights’ (February 2013, RogerEbert.com).

Why choose to do a video essay?

An assessment like this allows you to develop (and share) a variety of technical skills by teaching yourself or your peers how to use editing software (such as iMovie), locate open source film and music, and write text or script. You can apply your understanding of theoretical concepts by highlighting specific sequences, scenes, and images in a way that is perhaps even more direct than the traditional written essay. In this way the video essay can work effectively as an option alongside more traditional written assessments and offer innovative, exciting insights.

Further Guidance on video essay how-tos and links to sample video essays are here:

http://reframe.sussex.ac.uk/audiovisualessay/resources/how-to-guides/how-to-video-essays-by-greer-fyfe-and-miriam-ross/

Here are some examples of video projects:
http://videoessays.tumblr.com

Ideas on video essays (don’t panic – we aren’t expecting the production quality of these, we mention them ONLY to give you some ideas)

1. Patrick Willems, ON Making Video Essays (30 January 2018).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H13yrUgQT4A

2. “The best video essays of 2017”

https://www.bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/sight-sound-magazine/polls-surveys/annual-round-ups/best-video-essays-2017

3. How to Do a Video Essay: An Introduction to the Video Essay
https://ecu.au.libguides.com/video-essay/how-to-do-a-video-essay

4. The Video Essay

https://catoolkit.herts.ac.uk/toolkit/8-the-video-essay/

5. The Audiovisual Essay: Resources for Teachers

http://reframe.sussex.ac.uk/audiovisualessay/resources/resources-for-teachers/

Appendix: Assessment criteria for video essays

80+ First class

Research has been exceptionally thorough and wide-ranging, information has been selected and presented very appropriately for the topic, and the writer has contributed original ideas to the discussion

There is a very clear development of argument, which is announced at the beginning, and there are logical links between ideas.

Very thorough, detailed analysis with highly convincing, wide-ranging evidence to back up arguments, which use existing moving image material in creative and ethically responsible ways, adding value to it and showing awareness of copyright and fair use policies.

Clear evidence of originality in lines of argument, selection of evidence and a strong grasp of the scholarly responsibility of choosing visual sources.

The video essay is exceptionally well structured and well written, in immaculate, grammatically correct sentence structures and appropriate style, including a full bibliography and references according to the specified referencing style and with comprehensive and appropriate credits.

The work responds to the brief in an original and unusual way and shows exceptional creativity, innovation, and conceptualisation.

A clear understanding of the form of the video essay and a deployment of the form in the service of the argument.

An answer achieving 80+ must be outstanding in every way. It presents an extremely coherent, well structured, immaculately presented, very well informed argument which is very well supported, exceptionally ambitious in scope, shows originality and relates the topic to the broader context.

70+ First class

Research has been thorough and wide-ranging, information has been selected and presented appropriately for the topic, and the writer has contributed her / his own ideas to the discussion

There is a clear development of argument, which is announced at the beginning, and there are logical links between ideas

Thorough, detailed analysis with suitable, wide-ranging evidence to back up arguments, which use existing moving image material in creative and ethically responsible ways, adding value to it and showing awareness of copyright and fair use policies.

Clear evidence of originality in lines of argument, selection of evidence and / or sources and an understanding of the scholarly responsibility of choosing visual sources.

The video essay is well structured and coherent, with a clear structure and appropriate style including a full bibliography and references according to the specified referencing style and with comprehensive and appropriate credits.

The work responds to the brief with some evidence of originality.

An answer achieving 70+ must present a coherent, well structured, clear, very well informed argument which is very well supported, ambitious in scope, shows originality and relates the topic to the broader context.

60+ Upper second class

Thorough examination of the question with evidence of research beyond the essential reading and viewing.

There is a clear development of argument, which is announced at the beginning, and there are logical links between most of the ideas.

Thorough, detailed analysis with suitable evidence to back up arguments, which use existing moving image material in creative and ethically responsible ways, adding some value to it and showing some awareness of copyright and fair use policies.

Shows glimpses of originality in lines of argument, selection of evidence and / or sources and some understanding of the scholarly responsibility of choosing visual sources.

The video essay is well structured and clear and includes a full bibliography and references according to the specified referencing style and with appropriate credits.

The concept is clear and engaging.

An answer achieving 60+ must be a coherent, well-structured and clear argument which is well informed, uses evidence to back up statements and shows reading and viewing beyond the essential texts. Work in this category tends to be less ambitious in scope than first class work. Originality of thought and very good use of evidence may compensate for lapses in the argument structure.

50+ Lower second class

Research is generally good but limited in range, and information has not always been selected appropriately, with limited contribution from the essayist.

There is evidence of an argument, but it is not fully developed or hard to follow and the introduction and / or conclusion is poor.

The analysis is adequate but there is not always enough or well selected evidence to back up arguments; the use of existing moving image material is deployed to an extent in creative and ethically responsible ways, adding some value to it and showing some awareness of copyright and fair use policies.

Shows a clear argument for the selection of evidence and / or sources and a limited understanding of the scholarly responsibility of choosing visual sources.

Ideas are expressed reasonably clearly and whilst there may be some errors or unclear sentences, the video essay on the whole is clear.

The video essay includes a full bibliography and references according to the specified referencing style and with largely appropriate credits.

There are some moments of strong analysis.

An answer achieving 50+ must show that the student is reasonably well informed on the core information and uses evidence sufficiently well to present a fairly good argument. Work in this category is competent in most aspects, but lacks the comprehensiveness, accuracy and / or cohesiveness expected of an upper second.

40+ Third class

There is some evidence of reading and attempt to address the question or topic, but only the most obvious sources have been used and little selectivity has been applied to the information gathered.

The work is descriptive and derivative rather than analytical, with lack of critical insight or evidence of theoretical underpinning.

The structure is not related to the development of ideas and / or the introduction and conclusion are inadequate. Existing moving image material is deployed without evidence of creativity, ethical responsibility, and adds limited value whilst showing a limited awareness of copyright and fair use policies.

The evidence selected is not always relevant to the question and / or important points have been missed. There is no reflection on the scholarly responsibility of choosing visual sources.

Relatively competent use of language, but video essay may often be unclear and / or contain frequent errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation.

Sources are referenced, but the referencing style is inconsistent and not fully conforming to the specified referencing style but there is an attempt at appropriate credits.

The form of the video essay is not exploited in any meaningful way.

There is a limited attempt at analysis.

An answer achieving 40+ must show some understanding of relevant texts, concepts and theories. Evidence may be lacking or inappropriate. A fully formulated argument may be absent and the question may not be fully addressed. Notwithstanding errors in presentation and communication, there must be sufficient evidence that the student understands a satisfactory amount to warrant a pass.

30+ Fail (but with potential for compensation)

Little or no research has been carried out, there is over-dependence on class material and no point of view is developed.

There is little or no analysis and discussion is uninformed and superficial.

The discussion is not clearly relevant to the assignment and / or too many important points are missed.

The viewer cannot follow the structure of the argument and the existing moving image material is used in a limited, derivative way with little awareness of copyright and fair use policies.

The work consists of a string of assertions and opinions which may not be related to each other, with little or no use of supporting evidence and no understanding of the ethics of the scholarly responsibility of choosing visual sources.

Poor presentation and linguistic competence, including little grasp of grammar, limited vocabulary, incorrect word use, spelling and punctuation that interferes with the transmission of ideas and information.

Few sources are cited and / or referencing is inconsistent or not conforming to the specified style; there are some credits.

There is a partial and problematic attempt at analysis.

An answer achieving 30+ fails to demonstrate understanding of relevant texts, concepts and theories. Evidence is lacking, unconvincing or inappropriate. There are flaws in the argument or an obvious lack in argument directed towards the question making the answer fail to present a sufficient case. There may be grammatical errors or lack of clarity. The overall impression is of a student who does not understand sufficiently well to warrant a pass.

Less than 30 Fail (but without potential for compensation)

Little or no research has been carried out and no argument is evident.

There is little or no analysis and discussion is uninformed, with little or no use of evidence relevant to the discussion.

The discussion is confused and not clearly relevant to the assignment.

The structure is very poor and disordered and the existing moving image material is used in a limited way with no awareness of copyright and fair use policies.

There are many errors or gaps and overall, information is not sufficient to demonstrate even a basic grasp of the core information.

There is no understanding of the ethics of scholarly responsibility of choosing visual sources.

Very poor presentation and linguistic competence, including little grasp of grammar, limited vocabulary, incorrect word use, spelling and punctuation that interferes with the transmission of ideas and information.

Sources are not cited appropriately and there are no credits.

The work is below the required duration.

There is no documentation of the process in the reflective commentary.

An answer achieving less than 30% shows obvious failure to demonstrate understanding of relevant texts, concepts and theories. Evidence is lacking, unconvincing or inappropriate. There are serious flaws in the argument or an obvious lack of argument. There are many errors or lack of clarity. The overall impression is of a student who has very little understanding of the topic.

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