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Video Essays: Get Started

Video essays

"At its core the video essay is, like its print counterpart, an attempt to figure something out—
not just with language but with image and sound". *

What is a video essay?

Video essays combine different forms of media such as video (film), audio (voice-over, music, sounds), and text to study or analyze a topic. Many have structures similar to a written essay, with an introduction, body and conclusion. An effective video essay will have a strong thesis or argument.

Video essays may include any or all of the following:

  • Voice-over - film or still images are shown while a message or dialog is voiced.
  • Text + Images - Written text on the screen over video or still images - might also include voice-over
  • Supercut - excerpts from films created by others, such as feature films and documentaries. Text, voice-over and/or other audio may be included.
  • Cinepoem - Poetic reading accompanied by film and text titles 

Related terms:

  • Multimodal communication
  • Multimedia composition
  • Digital storytellling
  • Scholarly video

Connection to Media / Digital Literacy

Media Literacy is a 21st century approach to education. It provides a framework to access, analyze, evaluate, create and participate with messages in a variety of forms--from print to video to the Internet. Media literacy builds an understanding of the role of media in society as well as essential skills of inquiry and self-expression necessary for citizens of a democracy.


*Bresland, John. "Call for Cinepoems and Video Essays." TriQuarterly. Northwestern University School of Professional Studies, 15 July 2013. Web. 24 July 2016. <>

Tisch Library Digital Design Studio, Tufts University.  Storyboarding for videos. Medford, MA.  Retrieved July, 2016 from