Video Storytelling


Distance Learning content for JRNL10 (3/28/2017)

Video storytelling for the web and for mobile is very different from the traditional broadcast model. Why? Online video is not restricted to the structured format or length that networks demand. Online video therefore varies in length considerably, from very short explainer videos you see on Facebook feeds from NowThis or AJ+ to long, documentary series like those from Vice. Online video tends to be edgier, more creative, more intimate, sometimes more casual, sometimes more poetic and less literal, and often without a traditional stand-up reporter narrating the whole piece.

Don’t rely on an omniscient narrator to explain everything in a video. Opt for your story to emerge organically from the interviews and from the video itself.

The best way to learn about video storytelling is to watch what others have done. In this class, examine the following videos and think about the discussion questions related to them:

  1. Rubbish Removal from the New Yorker (8:22)
    Screen Shot 2017-01-18 at 4.16.44 PM.png

    1. Successful video stories have a way of linking personal stories to larger universal themes. How does “Rubbish Removal” do this?
    2. We see characters undergo transformations in stories. They learn something along the way and they are different in the end than they were at the beginning. What kind of change do we see the main character go through in this story?
    3. The first two minutes of this story has great sequences that keep an upbeat tempo. What are some of them?
  2. Henrik Hansen: Shinya Kimura Chabott Engineering (2:45)
    Screen Shot 2017-01-18 at 4.18.12 PM.png

    1. Good stories have surprises. What was surprising to you in the video about Shinya Kimura?
    2. Good stories have details, and with video that means close-ups and extreme close-ups. What effect do the close-up b-roll sequences (sequences that are not the interview) in the Kimura video have?
  3. Wordless: A poet’s struggle with Alzheimers by Almudena Toral in NYTimes (4:51)

    1. In “Wordless”, the term “Alzheimer’s” isn’t actually said until two minutes 17 seconds into the video. Why introduce the term so late into the video when the story is about Alzheimers?
    2. In “Wordless”, how are the b-roll shots (the shots that are not interviews) used to reinforce the themes/narrative in the video?
  4. Shoot One Please by Ken Christensen (7:08) in NYTimes

    1. How do we know that the young man in “Shoot One Please” is conflicted about hunting without a narrator saying so? How is that conflict expressed visually?
    2. How is the onscreen text used in “Shoot One Please”? Is it effective?


Post your thoughts on at least TWO discussion questions, but choose questions from different videos. (I don’t want you to just answer two questions on the same video). Post your answers in the comments below this blog post. Feel free to respond to your classmate’s reactions!






12 thoughts on “Video Storytelling

  1. Frank Luisi says:

    1. Henrik Hansen: Shinya Kimura Chabbot Engineering
    (A special moment)
    I found the muffled close-up shot of Mr. Kimura riding his motorcycle to be extremely powerful and surprising. Throughout the entire piece there are sounds of gears grinding, flames blazing, and motors running; the only moment of silence is when you would expect to hear the most amount of noise, because he is riding a motorcycle. However, that is not the case in this video, because as the camera cuts from a wide shot of the airstrip to a close up of Mr. Kimura’s face, there is a transition from very loud sound to a smooth white noise that almost relieves your ears. This portion of the footage was also accompanied by Mr. Kimura’s narrative, as he stated how peaceful it is to ride a motorcycle. I believe that this was the most surprising moment of the video,

    2. Wordless: A poet’s struggle with Alzheimers by Almudena Toral
    (Why the term “Alzheimer” was introduced late in the video)
    I think the reason why the term “Alzheimer” was introduced later in the video is because the director meant to show rather than tell what the piece was about, just like writers tend to do in their own pieces. There is a power to “show, don’t tell,” because this particular technique is meant to appeal to people’s emotions or senses. For example, saying “it was a beautiful day outside” is not the same as “the birds chirped about the brown branches of the forest, as the sun cut through the leaves and paved the reflection of the blue sky in a tiny pond of rainwater.” Video shooting works in the same manner. It is much more effective to shoot videos of a forest rather than have someone tell you directly that State Parks are beautiful during spring. Ms. Toral’s video does that. She uses really cool ways of showing how Alzheimer’s is really tragic to experience; for example, there are words that are deleted from pages of books, signifying that memories eventually disappear completely in people affected by the disease. That is why I believe Ms. Toral chose to introduce the term later in her piece,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Matt Buete says:

    1. Henrik Hansen: Shinya Kimura Chabbot Engineering
    (Question #1)
    What surprised me the most about Shinya Kimura is that he has images to go by, but he is not inspired by anything in particular. I think it is great that he cuts steel and bends aluminum to how he feels in that moment. His method is fantastic because if he goes on how he feels in the moment it will be something unique every time. It’s crazy how he has such creative abilities and he doesn’t even draw. His whole process blew me away because it was something different and unique all at the same time.

    2. Wordless: A poet’s struggle with Alzheimers by Almudena Toral
    (Question #2)
    I think the term “Alzheimer’s” isn’t mentioned right away because it was easier for us to understand it visually rather than hearing about it. The meaning of this video was to show us about Alzheimer’s not tell us about it. A good visual was when the words of the book were disappearing and you can really put together what is going on. Some people learn better visually, but everyone will understand this video better from seeing rather than hearing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ryconnell says:

    1. Rubbish Removal from the New Yorker
    (Question 3)
    The first 2 minutes of this video story had wonderful pacing and transition. It set the scene for what they were doing, gave details about why, and showed you how they were able to complete the job. There was tons of different footage woven into the 1st 2 minutes of this piece. Every time the two gentlemen were loading up their van, there was different angles, perspectives, and point of emphasis. The first 2 minutes of this video really showed the viewer a lot, and helped bring the entire story along, thanks to its pacing and transition.

    2. Shoot One Please
    (Question 1)
    The young man in this video is very much conflict about hunting. Their does not have to be any narration of why he is or isn’t conflicted, it is visible in his choice of action. Once they get out to the woods and get set up to hunt, their is a deer off in the distance. The young man was instructed to get up and shoot the deer. When he got up and was ready to shoot, he tensed up and could not bring himself to do such a thing. You could see it in his body language that he was visibly uncomfortable with the entire situation. Being that is very clear the young man is not comfortable with the situation, there is no need for someone to tell you that, because the video captures it just as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. andreworihuela1 says:

    1. Henrik Hanson: Shinya Kimura Chabott Engineering
    (What was surprising to me in the video about Shinya Kimura?)
    I believe that what I found to be surprising to me in this video was that Mr. Kimura has built his life around perfecting creating motorcycles for others to ride. Another aspect which surprised me quite a bit was that in the video, he went so far as to say that creating a motorcycle is more than just an art because it brings out certain instincts in a person that usually are not seen very often in public. I was also quite surprised about how he thought that while many people perceive riding a motorcycle as a violent activity, he sees riding a motorcycle as more of a calming, peaceful experience. I found it also especially interesting that Mr. Kimura has never actually flown on a plane, but when he rides his motorcycle, he feels as if he is on a plane by utilizing a calming engine in his motorcycle. I really found it again, to be quite surprising that in his opinion, he believes that riding a motorcycle is truly calming, and also just very peaceful and serene. All of these aspects were really surprising to me in the video.
    2. Wordless: A Poet’s Struggle With Alzheimer’s by Almudena Toral in NYTimes
    (Why introduce the term “Alzheimer’s” late into the video when it is about that?)
    I believe the reason they had introduced the term “Alzheimer’s” late in the video was to outline the actual effects that the disease causes a person to have and suffer from. Ms. Toral uses rather descriptive language to depict what the disease is, rather than just telling the viewers out front that Mr. Agueros suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. She really meant to put the term in that late because she wanted to target what is called people’s “pathos logic”. This means that she was really trying to tap into, and strike an emotional response from the viewers who would watch this video by creating an appeal to their emotional side. She really wanted to make this video to capture the “realness” and “reality” of the disease in its most purest form and depict it to the viewers in such a way, that the messages that are created in the video really tug at people’s heart strings, and create a wide range of emotions to flow through them. She really depicts the fatal disease in various lights, and amplifies how horrible it really is. These are the reasons why I believe that the term “Alzheimer’s” was introduced late into the video.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Gracen Hansen says:

    Question 1
    I think the word “Alzheimer’s” was used so late was to make you feel that uncertainty, confusion, and the sometimes fear that a person effected by Alzheimer’s feels day to day. Not only are you unsure of what is being talked about, but your heart is breaking for this man who no longer remembers how to do what he loves. Besides trying to help the audience identify with this man on a micro scale, the lack of saying “Alzheimer’s” creates a sense of suspense to keep the viewer interested in what was going to happen and why.

    “Shoot One, Please”
    Question 1
    You don’t need narration to tell that the teen in conflicted in this video. He breaths heavily, doesn’t shoot when he has a clear shot, and is ignoring and annoyed with his father for telling him to shoot. I think it was a good idea to have those very sensitive microphones because it allows you to hear the strain and disappointment in the father’s voice when the son doesn’t shoot the first deer, and his son’s heavy breathing made it obvious how nervous or uncomfortable he was with the idea of shooting.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lena Zhu says:

    Henrik Hansen: Shinya Kimura Chabott Engineering (2:45)
    (Question 2: Good stories have details, and with video that means close-ups and extreme close-ups. What effect do the close-up b-roll sequences (sequences that are not the interview) in the Kimura video have?)

    Good stories have details and I think that the close ups and extreme close ups do have an impact on the video itself. The close up b-roll sequences in the video add a level of drama and emphasize certain features of the object or person that is being captured. These are definitely seen in the close up of the shop and the materials and motorcycles in the shop. The close ups also give a sense of perception, giving the video more dynamic so that it isn’t just the interviewee talking to the camera at different angles.

    One of the more interesting close up b roll sequences would have to be near the end the video where he takes his bikes and motorcycles for a joyride. The video (starting at 1:59 and 2:10) and the point of view is interesting at these points. When the camera shakes along with the vigor of the motorcycle, the audience will not be bored. It is almost like the viewers are on the ride themselves with the camera shaking.

    When he states, “The ground and the sky are so white there is no boundary between them”, there is a stark contrast with the white background sky with Kimura’s black motorcycle gear. The close up brings more attention to Kimura’s point in the way that the eyes are blinded by the contrast shown in the video.

    Video 3: Wordless: A poet’s struggle with Alzheimers by Almudena Toral in NYTimes (4:51)
    (Question 1):
    In “Wordless”, the term “Alzheimer’s” isn’t actually said until two minutes 17 seconds into the video. Why introduce the term so late into the video when the story is about Alzheimers?

    I believe that the video is much more dramatic and empathetic when the word Alzheimer’s is not automatically mentioned, although the video itself is about the disease. Not mentioning Alzheimer’s in the first minute of the video kind of plays upon the part that Alzheimer’s affects everyone and that Alzheimer’s can be out of the blue. One day, you are remembering events and moments, the next day, you don’t remember a thing. Alzheimer’s can also be gradual, though, as the viewers could probably tell that the patient/poet had the disease. Surefire signs were mentioned and talked about in the first few minutes of the video. The viewers can then infer that the video is about Alzheimer’s. This tactic can be related to real life in the sense that sometimes others can see the signs and causes of pending Alzheimer’s and there is not something that you can prevent.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lena Zhu says:

    (I know I already have two questions done, but I really wanted to do this one, so I guess this is me being “extra”).

    Question 2 on “Wordless” Video:
    In “Wordless”, how are the b-roll shots (the shots that are not interviews) used to reinforce the themes/narrative in the video?

    Personally, I liked the b-roll shots in “Wordless”. I thought that they were very creative. In the first few seconds of the movie, there are poems and papers with words on them. At about 0:12, words at the bottom of the page start to get deleted (as if the words were on the computer rather than the paper). I liked this b-roll shot because the shot shows that Alzheimer’s can happen so quickly and suddenly. Also, I believe that the paper symbolizes memory. Everyone writes down moments or tasks on paper to help them remember for the future. Paper, unless burned, can hold the memories for a very long time. One can always go back to the paper and reread and feel the emotions the writer was going through at the time. The fact that the paper was deleting quickly symbolizes the effect of Alzheimer’s.

    At 0:23, there is a picture of a page in a book. Pages and books (especially for poets) have the same symbolization of memory. Since the pages of the book were in a close up, this can possibly symbolize the closeness of the book/memory to the writer’s heart. When the camera slowly becomes out of focus, this may symbolize the loss or fuzzy memory of the emotional events that had happened in the author’s lifetime.
    Starting at 0:32, Jack Agüeros’s many books start to show up in quick succession as the daughter reveals, “…like a crazy maniac writing into the midnight hours.” The words crazy maniac fits well with the crazy and quick succession of her dad’s books. This quick succession can illustrate the crazy maniac behavior that the dad had demonstrated throughout his years as a poet. The series of books that is displayed in a fast manner could mean how fast he worked through the books and how many memories he had to write down.

    The close ups of the grand dad walking up the stairs and of his hands demonstrate how old and feeble he is. His leg shakes as he holds onto the railing beside him and his hands shake a little bit when moving.

    What really surprised me in the video was from 3:02-3:15 (“Do you remember a book called Correspondence Between the Stone Haulers”). This part really surprised me and got to me because even though Algüero has Alzheimer’s, the mention of one of his books makes him smile. Theoretically, he is not supposed to remember much of anything, but the mention of one of his books make him smile like crazy. This really touched my soul because his stories are something that he remembers. He has spent a lot of time pouring his heart and soul into his works. Even though nature and science are against him, he is still able to recall the book that he wrote. The book brought back some memories that made him smile. It just goes to show that although the mind may forget, the heart never does.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. dancosterhofstra says:

    “Shoot One Please”
    Question 1
    We know the young man Glen, is conflicted about hunting for many reasons. The narrator doesn’t have to say this because Glen shows this with his lack of passion and disinterest about hunting throughout the video. As he talks throughout the video he does not seem inspired about hunting. In the video, he is being taught by his Dad about something that would potentially help him with his hunting skills but he yawns as he is being taught. As he and his Dad go on a hunting trip, Glen spots a deer and is ready to shoot. He waits for a very long time as he is staring into his scope and the deer ends up running away. His Dad kept nagging him to shoot the deer but Glen clearly didn’t want to. Glen said it didn’t feel right to kill the deer. Later in the video Glen assists in a deer kill and he seems in awe that he killed it. He also shows that he is conflicted because he doesn’t show any positive emotion while hunting.

    Henrik Hansen: Shinya Kimura Chabott Engineering
    Question 1
    In this video, I was surprised by many things. He makes his own bikes with no layout or blueprint of what design or bike he wants to make. I think that is pretty incredible. I also found it surprising how he views bikes as art. He says riding the bike is very serene. I found this interesting because most people who ride motorcycles don’t ride it for the calmness it brings them, they ride it for the adrenaline rush. In the video, he stresses how it brings him peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. oscardelahofstra says:

    Rubbish Removal from the New Yorker (8:22)

    We definitely see a change in the main character Stroud who is a scrapper in the story. The video begins showing us the mentality of someone who is following after his family’s mnemonic tradition of scrapping metal in Brownsville, NY. The video shows him and his brother making the best of their situation however, also showing that their situation is knowingly illegal and lawfully controversial. His persona changes from this is our way of life “making something out of nothing, not having the best access to education and opportunity” to this “oh, this is a change that could take at least 5 years to be recognized” persona when pursuing the law about the matter of scrapping items from people’s properties as a part of an already, existing industry. We then begin to see a person who is interested in doing more for himself by him gaining an awareness of the world around him in relation to what he wants to pursue and what he is passionate about.

    In the first two minutes we hear an upbeat tempo that shows Stroud making the best of his situation. He is throwing metal and lifting metal into his vehicle. He speaks about competing with his brother and how they look for treasure. We are shown a variety of old, used, moldy, and rusted metal house objects.

    Henrik Hansen: Shinya Kimura Chabott Engineering (2:45)

    I found it surprising that he viewed creating motor cycles as an art form that was peaceful. I also found it surprising that he associated the engine with being on an airplane. The close up shots showed his dedication and passion for this type of engineering art form he spends one on one time on.

    In the beginning they show a shot of him on his motor cycle which seemed perfect because, he basically said that it is not complete until someone rides one. Theoretically, that shot could have made sense at the end too but symbolically it made the story compelling at the very beginning before the narration. This guy not only has a passion for making motorcycles but, he also rides / tests them out which also coincides with what he talks about in the story. He says that people want them because, he breaks his back making them. The close up shots convey much more intensity and emotion about who this guy is alongside his passion. At the end at 2:40 you see overwhelming, similar emotion of how he really feels in conjunction to what he says in the story.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. nicobermudezz says:

    Rubbish Removal from the New Yorker
    Question 3
    – Within the first two minutes of the video, there are a few elements that give it an upbeat feel. There are many cuts from scene to scene showing what it is these men do for a living. The main character provides viewers with a bit of opening narration introducing their daily job while there is music playing in the background enhancing the tone.

    Henrik Hansen
    Question 2
    – In the Henrik Hansen video, there were a number of close ups and extreme close ups. While he was riding the motorcycle, the camera was extremely close to the character’s face to add an effect (sort of give the viewer an idea of what it would feel like riding a motorcycle). Along with that, there were many close ups to the parts of the motorcycle while he was working on it. One close up simply included a little fire coming out of the exhaust pipes when he began to get the motorcycle started.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. ethanquigs says:

    Rubbish Removal
    Question 2
    – There is a big change in the main character in “Rubbish Removal.” In the beginning, the main character is having fun and he’s playing with the metal as he collects it. It made it seem as if collecting metal for him was more of a fun hobby instead of a job. He’d have competitions with his buddy like seeing who can stack the metal into the truck fastest, or who can destroy the metal fastest. Then came the law that made it illegal to collect scrap metal off of the streets with a motor vehicle. This law brought the main character’s attitude down. He was no longer having fun getting the metal. His voice changed in the interviews as well. He talked with more of a monotone voice and wasn’t as upbeat. The law made it seem like he no longer likes what he does.

    Question 1
    – Even thought the film is about Alzheimer’s, it is not introduced until two minutes into the video. This is done to give a little bit of background on the gentleman with the disease. It also makes the video a little more happier because it is just the two people talking and the word “Alzheimer’s” isn’t mentioned so it kind of makes the viewer not think of it. Another reason could be that it is obvious that the gentleman has Alzheimer’s, so instead of saying the word and being focused in on it they don’t say it to make the focus on the two in the video to be able to see the gentlemen get recollection of his memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. chasprit says:

    “Shoot One Please”
    Question 1
    In “Shoot One Please” you can tell the boy is conflicted about hunting deer by the answers he give during the interview and how he talks about his experience learning to hunt. He seems like he’s trying to get over the the fact that in hunting you have to kill other living things. This is portrayed visually when the boy sees the first deer during the video he sort of freezes up on what appeared to be a simple shot because of the way the person with him reacted. Also even when he eventually did take a shot on a deer he wasn’t able to kill it after the einitial shot and his brother had to finish the job. Even though hes conflicted about killing deer he says at the end he’s going to continue the rest of his life and eventually teach his kids.

    Rubbish Removal
    Question 2
    During Rubbish Removal the main character in the story went through a change after his cousin gets arrested during one of there runs picking up scrap metal. The young man starts off avoiding and almost ignoring the law completely and once his cousin gets arrested he begins to care about learning about the law so he has the knowledge to be able to fight it and overturn laws he feels are wrongs against the way he and his family make a living. Later in the video we eventually see him talking with another person in law that is explaining to him the steps he has to take to begin fighting the laws against picking up scrap metal. The video also says he is in the process of studying to take the LSATs. He went from not caring about the law to learning to studying to be able to legally defend his position in a court room.

    Liked by 1 person

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