A video essay is a piece of video content that, much like a written essay, advances an argument. Video essays take advantage of the structure and language of film to advance their arguments.[1]

While the medium has its roots in academia, it has grown dramatically in popularity with the advent of the internet and video sharing platforms like YouTube and Vimeo. [2]

"YouTube video essays are long-form (relative to many other internet videos) critical videos that make arguments about media and culture. They're usually meticulously narrated and edited, juxtaposing video footage, images, audio, and text to make an argument much like a writer would do in a traditional essay"[3]

A video essay is a great learning tool that can be used in the classroom to "teach students technical and theoretical aspects of broadcast news and production."[4]

In the classroom, video essays have many educational applications ranging from: conversation openers, active viewing opportunities, copyright lessons, and assessment opportunities. [5]

In addition to teaching students technical production skills needed to make a video essay, students also learn of the impact a combination of images and sound can have on an audience. The video essay allows for a stronger medium of communication that can accommodate a larger audience; like the hearing impaired or foreign language speakers. [4]

Video essayists

Frequently cited examples of video essayists and series include: [6][7]

  • Every Frame a Painting, a series on the grammar of film editing by Tony Zhou
  • The Nerdwriter, wide-ranging explorations into the topics that interest creator Evan Puschak
  • Kaptain Kristian, an investigation of pop culture icons by Kristian Williams
  • A wide number of videos released by Vox Media


  1. ^ Bernstein, Paula. "What is a Video Essay? Creators Grapple with a Definition Filmmaker Magazine". Filmmaker Magazine. Retrieved 2017-07-05. 
  2. ^ ""On the Origin of the Video Essay" by John Bresland Blackbird v9n1 #gallery". www.blackbird.vcu.edu. Retrieved 2017-07-05. 
  3. ^ "Why and How to Use YouTube Video Essays in Your Classroom". Common Sense Education. 2018-01-23. Retrieved 2018-03-25. 
  4. ^ a b "CAS – Central Authentication Service". search-proquest-com.ezproxy2.library.arizona.edu. Retrieved 2018-03-25. 
  5. ^ "Why and How to Use YouTube Video Essays in Your Classroom". Common Sense Education. 2018-01-23. Retrieved 2018-03-26. 
  6. ^ Kaye, Jeremy (2016-01-17). "5 filmmakers that have mastered the art of the Video Essay". Medium. Retrieved 2017-07-05. 
  7. ^ Liptak, Andrew (2016-08-01). "This filmmaker deep-dives into what makes your favorite cartoons tick". The Verge. Retrieved 2017-07-05.