In Chapter 1, we briefly explored some of the different vlog genres or styles. Not all videobloggers use a specific or consistent format, and one is certainly not required. To give you some ideas for the style of your own videoblog, let's take a look at additional vlogs in more detail. As you explore, pay attention to the styles or formats that you find most appealing. Try to think of a story you want to tell and how you might use your voice to tell it. The most engaging videoblogs reflect the personality of the vloggers behind them.
Vlogs as Personal Journals
A vlogger's own life is by far the most popular vlog subject and format. Autobiographical videoblogs may jump from topic to topic with individual entries but tend to stick to a few main themes overall. The authors' personal vlogs are good examples. They usually feature stories about friends and family, videoblogging itself, art, collaboration, and music.
Ryanne's "En Route" video, at http://ryanedit.blogspot.com/2005/11/en-route.html, combines several of these elements (Figure 2.1). A friend in the Netherlands asked her to send the packaging from a certain brand of butter for an art project. Instead of simply emailing the friend to say she'd sent the butter, Ryanne made a video showing herself walking to a grocery store, buying a package of butter, and then shipping the package overseas. This video was a collaborative project with fellow videoblogger Erik Nelson of www.bottomunion.com/blog.
Figure 2.1. With "En Route," Ryanne turned a seemingly mundane task into a collaborative music video.
Like personal journals, personal videoblogs can serve as a kind of scrapbook or archive of your life. After a few years of vlogging, you can look back into the archives for an insight into what was happening in your life at that time, what was different then compared to now, and what you found important during that period. Documenting the people in your life can also create an invaluable and precious record for generations to come. Videoblogging is also a modern way to preserve oral history and generational storytelling.
Michael's video "Wishbone," at http://michaelverdi.com/index.php/2005/11/27/wishbone, is one illustration of the value of personal vlogging (Figure 2.2). When Michael asks his father about how he feels, nine days after open heart surgery, his dad responds with an unexpected riff on wishbones, winning, and losing. The image of Michael's father delivering his philosophy while inadvertently displaying the massive surgical scar down his chest creates a powerful impact and preserves a moment in time that will surely be cherished by his great-great grandchildren.
Figure 2.2. In "Wishbone," Michael documents a personal moment with his father that will be archived for posterity.
Some videobloggers create vlog "shows" by focusing on a particular topic that they present in a similar way each time. Shows can be about any subject matter, including politics, art, comedy, science, and music. Bill Streeter's Lo-Fi St. Louis is a great example. Bill covers the local St. Louis music scene at http://lofistl.com. Most of his videos consist of a short introduction followed by footage of a band playing live in a bar (Figure 2.3).
Figure 2.3. Fans of live, independent music will love Lo-Fi St. Louis.
Steve Garfield produces "The Carol and Steve Show" and stars in it with his wife, Carol. This "real" reality TV show includes homey videos of the married couple shoveling snow, enjoying a ballgame at Boston's Fenway Park, and sitting and chatting in their kitchen (Figure 2.4). View it at http://stevegarfield.blogs.com/videoblog/carol_and_steve_show.
Figure 2.4. Become virtual neighbors and explore Boston with Carol and Steve, a "real" reality TV couple.
Chasing Windmills is the fictional story of a young couple that's written and acted by another engaging real-life pair, Cristina Cordova and Juan Antonio (Figure 2.5). View it at http://chasingmills.blogspot.com.
Figure 2.5. In "Ay Consuela," Cristina and Juan argue over hiring an immigrant worker to clean their apartment.
Adam Quirk and Brian Gonzalez are two vloggers who like to experiment and bring their audience along for the ride. Adam mixes animation, computer-generated speech, still images, and video in imaginative ways. The Singing Woodchuck Variety Minute can be found at http://bullemhead.com/woodchuck (Figure 2.6). Brian is a film student whose video "Precipice," at http://gnitseretni.blogspot.com/2005/09/precipice.html, has become an instant classic (Figure 2.7). The beautifully edited black-and-white images grab your attention and keep it until the end, when the video unexpectedly blossoms into full color.
Figure 2.6. The wacky Singing Woodchuck Variety Minute always leaves you wanting moremore witty, animated rodents, that is.
Figure 2.7. Brian Gonzalez's classic, "Precipice," tells a compelling story in an unexpected way.
Citizen journalism allows people to redefine what is newsworthy and participate in a form of communication traditionally closed to nonprofessionals. In the case of videoblogging, these are videos made by everyday people about events and issues that may not be covered by mainstream media outlets. Most citizen journalists don't act like TV reporters and shoot themselves live at the scene of an incident like we see on the 11 o'clock news. It's more common that news stories covered by vlogging citizen journalists highlight what people in a given community care to about, and so they vary depending on what is important to particular vloggers and their community.
Take Minnesota Stories, for example. This daily videoblog by state residents is an evolving showcase for local citizen media. It spotlights personal stories and commentaries on local politics, independent films, music, and eateries, the kind of little gems that fall through the cracks of mainstream media (Figure 2.8).
Figure 2.8. The Bad Waitress, a restaurant in South Minneapolis, gets a good review from local diners on Minnesota Stories, www.mnstories.com.
A journalistic approach doesn't work for every video or every topic, but sometimes it's exactly what you want. New Yorker Jonny Goldstein, for example, got impatient when the Columbia Branch Library in his low-income neighborhood was closed for more than a year. When renovation work ground to a halt, he used his vlog to push for change (Figure 2.9). View his video at www.jonnygoldstein.com/2005/08/21/reopen_the_library.php.
Figure 2.9. Citizen journalists often tackle local issues. Jonny Goldstein asks for help from New York City politicians in "Reopen the Library."