When you hear the term “essay,” you probably think of something written in a roughly five-paragraph format. American schools teach students to write essays using an opening paragraph, roughly three support paragraphs and a conclusion. An essay, however, can be done in many formats. An illustrative essay might take many different forms depending on the talent of the student creating it.
The first step to creating a complete video essay is to map out what you want to say and in what order you want to say it. Your essay may not be in written format, but it must still support a thesis and present evidence. Storyboarding your video essay will help because you plan what you want every frame to look like. Then you can go out with your video camera and shoot those scenes. Alternatively, use photos you take or common use photos from the Internet to fill in those scenes. Record narration over your storyboard in any movie-making software and then merge the two. Don’t forget the title frame and the credits frame at the end.
Storyboarding or Cartooning Your Essay
A storyboard and a cartoon are very close to the same thing. While directors create storyboards to plan out their television episodes or films, a cartoonist draws each frame and adds dialogue to those frames to ultimately support a point. Graphic novels have become popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s; Marjane Satrapi’s “Persepolis” series is one of the most notable graphic novels. A student talented at drawing could easily create an essay in cartoons. Outlining your essay is a good first step: what evidence you want to present and in what order and how that evidence will support your point. Then decide how to use that evidence: you can draw people, anthropomorphic animals or just images of objects with captions.
Essay as Abstract Art
Another type of illustrative essay might manifest itself as abstract art. Not every student is talented at writing his thoughts in the traditional essay format. Students talented at painting or drawing could make designs representing their thoughts on a large piece of paper or poster board and then present that illustrative essay in class. The student would probably need to write a short synopsis for the teacher or videotape the presentation for the teacher to grade. A personal essay is the best type of essay to present this way, as personal experiences lend themselves to abstract art better than historical events or scientific phenomena.
Essay as Illustrated Book
Another type of illustrative essay might take the form of an illustrated book, much like a children’s book. Outline what you want to present first and then decide what kinds of illustrations you want to include in your book’s pages and in what order. You will probably have to include some text in your book to make sure that your points are supported. Once you have the content, draw or paint your illustrations into the book alongside your text. Staple or bind the spine of the pages to make sure that they hold together.