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Crossing Mediums, Backwards: from Essay to Video

Crossing Mediums, Backwards: from Essay to Video

Written by Larissa Pahomov
July 23, 2012

Note: While composing this resource, I discovered a very similar resource from Leslie Moitoza — Rethinking Composition in a Multimodal World. Her piece addresses how do to video writing from the ground up, where in my class we came to it backwards.

As I wrote in an earlier resource for Digital Is, at Science Leadership Academy we sometimes worry that our multimedia-rich education is a stark contrast to what our students will be facing when they graduate and enter more traditional college environments.

I would not say that we’re doing them a disservice — indeed, many of our recent graduates report that they appreciate the digital literacy they have going into their college years. They can spot your poorly-designed powerpoint from a mile away, and they’ll have a Prezi done in no time flat which looks much better.

Still, a cornerstone of the junior English curriculum is spent on the 2Fers, a pretty traditional analytical essay format. You can write about whatever you want, but it’d best have a clear thesis and sources properly cited. So there.

It was partway into the year when one of my students lamented that one of his papers just wasn’t fit to be argued in a written format. It was about video games.

I’ve read plenty of great essays on video games, I told him. (It’s true.) But explained that he wanted to do a thorough analysis of how certain video games had become more cinematic in both their production and narrative threads. He found it cumbersome to describe both the games and the films in sufficient detail.

He had a point. Why not just show it? For visual media in particular, we don’t need it translated into print so we can read it in our Sunday newspaper anymore. Even The New York Times, protectress of the written work, produces short videos to accompany movie reviews (and plenty of other topics). 

So in the middle of the year, I decided to do a little reverse engineering, and go from written work to video. Enter the Visual 2Fer.