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Telling Small Stories with Video, Part 1

What is a Small Story Video

I’m excited to share this video with you!

It introduces something I call a “Small Story Video”. It’s a way of telling a story effectively with video in a short amount of time.

Watch this video to see how it works:

As you’ll see, these techniques are also useful for telling big stories with video (for example, documentaries).

I hope this is helpful to you!

Post Updated October 11, 2017

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Small Story: Artist, Bill Zaner

This Small Story submission comes from Pat Whitty. It features a painter named Bill Zaner. Take a look…

Here are some of the strengths I noticed from Pat’s video:

  • It contains a variety of shots: inside the RV, outside the RV, landscapes, sunrise, interview shots.
  • Related to the above note — It uses several cut-away shots to give us a sense of time and place.
  • Pat uses interview footage directly, and he also uses the audio from the interview as effective voice-overs during B-roll cutaways.

Overall, this is another nice example of a Small Story video.

Side note — Not sure what a Small Story is? Check out my Small Stories Manifesto.

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Small Story: Liberation of Dachau

This Small Story submission is from Richard Beaugh.

It has a different tone from some of the other Small Stories I’ve shared. It’s a more serious tone, but you’ll see the Small Story concept still works.

  • It’s under two minutes.
  • It’s the simple story of a World War II soldier taking photos the day he helped liberate Dachau.
  • It uses documentary-style storytelling techniques such as interviews and B-roll (cutaway photos in this case).

I think Richard did a nice job with this which is why I’m sharing it with you here.

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Small Story: For the Love of Dragons

This Small Story submission comes from Mark DiNatale.

He shot it in about 30 minutes and spent about an hour editing.

I think it fits the spirit of the Small Story concept well.

  • It tells a story in under two minutes.
  • It uses documentary-style storytelling techniques.
  • The piece isn’t trying to be a polished, professional piece. It’s simply a way to practice telling stories.

As you watch it, do you get a sense that you could do it too? I hope so… One of the main reasons I’m sharing all these Small Story examples is so you’ll get inspired and give it a try.

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Small Story: Pole Vaulting with Allison Stokke

Here’s a Small Story video that will blow your mind:

GoPro shares a lot of great videos on their YouTube channel.

That said, many of them are really just video montages set to music. This one is different.

I recommend you watch the video above, read through these notes, and then watch the video again. It’s a great lesson in effective Small Storytelling.

(By the way, I want to emphasize that I’m not affiliated with this video. I watched it yesterday when GoPro emailed it as their “Video of the Week”. I’m sharing it here because it’s awesome.)

Let’s go through some of the elements of a good Small Story…

Continue reading Small Story: Pole Vaulting with Allison Stokke

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Small Story Problems

Small Story Problems

The Small Stories thing is getting some momentum.

I’m excited about that!

I’ve been receiving lots of links from people, including two submissions that were very close to being ready to share with you. I’ve started working with the two video creators (via email) to help them make a few adjustments to their Small Story videos.

(I wish I could do that for everyone, but of course, that would be impossible.)

In the meantime, here are the most common areas needing improvement I’ve seen in Small Story video submissions:

Continue reading Small Story Problems

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Small Story: “Grandpa”

Small Stories
I’m excited to share a Small Story submission with you today.

If you’ve been following my recent posts, then you know that I’ve declared a Small Stories Manifesto and that I asked for submissions that I could share on this website.

I think good Small Stories can be both inspirational and educational for you.

I received many links to videos. Some of them ignored the guidelines. Several of them were quite good. And a few submissions were great.

I really like the one I’m sharing with you today. I think it does a nice job of telling a Small Story.

It’s called “Grandpa”, and it was created by Stephen Greszczyszyn.

Take a moment to watch it (under two minutes long):

Continue reading Small Story: “Grandpa”

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The Small Stories Manifesto

small dogHello, video creator. I have something important to share, and it involves you.

We video creators need to spend more time practicing our craft with small stories.

I’m officially going on the record with this Small Stories Manifesto. I want to devote more time to Small Stories personally and also through this website.

So what is a Small Story?

Continue reading The Small Stories Manifesto