A Simple Guide on How to Make a Video Essay

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Everything changes with the passing days and the college admission process is no exception. As the modern trend of college applications, most colleges want applicants to send a video essay. It was earlier limited to art and design schools like the University of Chicago and Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland. However, now some universities want it as a replacement for the traditional college application essay while others mandate it as an additional component to the application package. Nonetheless, with the advent of the new college application process, most applicants fail to find a reliable reference on how to make a video essay. Hence, they get confused about the concept of a video essay, what to include in the video essay, or how to edit it. If you are caught in the same whirlwind, this blog post can be of great help to you. Read the entire blog for comprehensive guidance.

What is a Video Essay?

A video essay is an audio-visual presentation of your ideas, opinions, thoughts, stories, and arguments on a specific topic. You can present your video essay through pictures, text, music, or narration. Typically, the duration should last no more than 10 minutes.

However, if you are not developing your video essay in the form of a self-narration, ensure to add a voiceover narration throughout the entire project. It will help your readers feel that they are listening to your thoughts directly rather than watching the ideas passively. Typically video essays are developed by content critics who share their arguments on cinema, television, art history, and culture more largely.

Different Types of Video Essays

How to Make a Video Essay

You can make videos a powerful medium of communication whether you attach them to your college application share your opinion on a subject with the public or create a presentation to seal a deal. If you are interested in learning how to make a video essay, you must be aware of the popular types of videos listed below.

Auto-narrated video essays

In this type of video essay, you share the visuals with a voiceover presented by the instructor

Self-narrated video essays

You include a single video recording in a self-narrated essay.  Here, an individual talks about an assigned essay topic.


It is a type of video essay that is close to the sound clips commonly observed on YouTube;

Slide Shows

This type of video essay is similar to a movie, where you can depict a short story or mini-narrative. Most importantly, the content that you primarily choose for this type should depend on the following factors.

  • What you expect to achieve through your video essay
  • The kind of content you want to send
  • Range of time you want to maintain for your video
  • Your university’s guideline on the format of your video essay

Learn How to Make a Video Essay

This section will help you understand How to Make an Essay Longer video. Simply follow the steps suggested below and develop an engaging content.

1. Verify the video length

Verify the length of time for which the video can run. You may find it listed in each of your institutions’ requirements. For instance, the University of Chicago permits videos of up to 2 minutes. Stay within the university-mentioned video length to enhance your chance of getting selected. Concentrate on your presentation and select your words wisely.

2. Select a topic

Next, settle on the topic of the video. Some academic institutions may ask for discussion on a specific topic, and others will favor the video essay to work as a personal introduction in place of an interview.

If the video acts as an interview, explain your answers to the following questions:

  • Why do you want to take part in an academic program in this specific school?
  • How can you contribute to the college campus?
  • What things do you want to do when you arrive?

In short, use this video to state why you are a perfect fit for the school.

3. Create an outline and script

Showcase your production skills without overextending yourself. The admission officers from the universities will search for various aspects of your video apart from its production. Therefore, take the following steps:

  • Plan the points you wish to talk about
  • Develop your script
  • Practice your final presentation by recording yourself multiple times

You must remember that the script of a video essay is completely different from a traditional written essay. Here, you must arrange your ideas logically. Make sure that it allows your words to flow naturally and try to speak comfortably in front of the camera. Take guidance from the outline as you record in place of memorizing the script. It will reduce your chance of forgetting what you have to say.

You may simply use your phone camera to record yourself. Practice your recital until you feel confident to mouth the words comfortably without looking at the script outline. Recheck that your video does not exceed the time range specified in the application guidelines of the university you are applying for. Also, make sure that the video is not too short, or else, it will reduce the worth of your essay. Once you are satisfied with your script and presentation, be ready for the next step.

4. Make Use Of Imagery And Audio Files

The background of your video also plays a crucial role in the overall presentation of your video essay. Imagine the scene you want to show to your examining officer. If you want to shoot the video at home, keep things in the foreground that bring out your personality. For example, you may capture the video in your bedroom. In that case, make sure that your room is tidy and free from any dust. Also, display things that you find interesting. A trophy from an interschool basketball meet, and a stack of your favorite fictional books will form a nice setting for your video.

In contrast, you can film the video in a park or landmark of your locality that illustrates your interest. Moreover, you can take advantage of natural lighting. Use the natural surroundings to give a hint of your personality and gain the interest of the examining officer.

Moreover, when you render your video, you can attach additional images, videos, or audio files to support your message in the video essay. Hence, before you begin the editing process, collect and make your content ready.

5. Upload files into editing software

Exhibit your presentation skills by working on multiple takes of your video and editing them to create a refined final cut. You can use a variety of editing tools available online for free. Go for a user-friendly tool that offers the following facilities:

  • Drag and drop files
  • Add visual effects
  • Include audio effects
  • Edit the video

However, never spend excessive time on the post-production work of your videos. The experts will judge you based on the content you upload. They will only consider the graphics and transitions you use in your video if you apply for an academic program on videography or cinematography. Nonetheless, mute any external audio that comes into your content. It will help to make your voice clear in the video.

6.  Share or submit your work

Go through the steps mentioned in the university’s video essay submission guideline. Make sure that you meet the requirements precisely. Then, upload the video. It can happen in either of the two ways:

  • The application guideline may suggest uploading the file to the university’s website
  • It may request to share a link to the video.

If you have to share the link of your video, upload the content to trusted video-sharing portals like YouTube, or Vimeo and send the link to the university. LinkedIn is another reliable site to upload formal videos, especially, if you want to take its benefit for recruitment in companies in the future. Otherwise, you may store it in your Google Drive and make it viewable to the public. But, before you share the video, test your video on your computer or phone to ensure that the video plays and runs smoothly.

Video Essay Preparation Tips

When you want to develop the material in this non-traditional video essay format, apply your highest level of creativity to make your writing in film successful. Discuss your ideas with your parents or teachers and seek their feedback to ensure that your content resonates properly.

Then, consider the other points to create a winning essay in the video.

Have high-quality lighting and sound

Clutters, shadows, or loud background noise can distract your viewers. Make sure that enough natural light penetrates your room. It will prevent a washed-out appearance.

Dress for success

Don’t be in your night suit or doll up as you go to a party when you create a video. Instead, choose a presentable look with professional clothing. Dress up as you go for an interview. Keep your hair tidy, wear casual attire, and develop positive body language. It will improve your confidence, send an affirmative image, and highlight your seriousness towards your application.

Answer questions directly

If your college asks specific questions to answer in the video essay or the guideline has specific prompts that have to be included in the writing in the film, ensure that you answer all the questions directly. However, don’t get carried away by the creative process of developing your video essay. Note the questions and timestamp of the video where they are answered.

Be yourself

Perhaps one of the most essential tips that we can provide on how to make a video essay is to suggest you be your authentic and relaxed self. Try making the video without reading the prompt. Moreover, give yourself plenty of time to complete the assignment, and make sure to submit the essay within the deadline.

Best Tools for Editing a Video Essay

Following are the best editing tools available for free that you can use to review your video essay:


This tool is best for creating professional-quality movie videos

Hitfilm Express

This video editing software works best to regulate color balance, crop clips, and save your essay in video in different video formats.

Movie Maker Online

This editor works in a browser and helps you edit your video, upload the video assignment verticals and crop sounds, and add filters or transition effects.


Hopefully, by now, you will have learned how to create a video essay. Just follow the things discussed in this blog to come up with a successful video essay. In case, you still have doubts regarding the video essay creation or if you are not confident enough to develop an essay in the right video format, approach us quickly.

Jacob Smith Essay Topics Reading Time: 9 minutes

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