We’ve already discussed how short-form featured videos are changing the landscape of journalism by incorporating virality, but that does not mean that the longform feature video is slowly becoming left in the dust. In fact, many documentary companies are producing shareable, longer form feature videos that are pushing the boundaries of storytelling in the digital era.
One of these companies is Thrash Lab, a California-based documentary team that releases all of its work for free on Youtube. Backed by Twitter god and Two and a Half Men star Ashton Kutcher, Thrash Lab has produced bi-coastal features focusing on people in all kinds of creative fields — but excels in producing clever, slice-of-life views into popular subcultures.
Check out this feature on specialty coffeemakers:
Videos like this one have garnered more than 7 million video views and 37,000 followers since the channel launched last May. Quite a feat for Thrash Lab’s typically more reserved, cerebral narrative stylings and quirky subject choices.
Overall, Thrash Lab’s successful features mean that Kutcher and company can actually teach a lot of journalists how to produce captivating video. Here are some key takeaways:
- News can be pretty: Initiatives from the NY Times digital video series show that people are interested in high-quality video story. Videos don’t have to be grainy to be legitimate, and news features can work in a documentary-style video.
- Keep the scope small: Just like the video above, videos often work better when they’re a mile deep instead of a mile wide. Take a sliver of a subculture, a single theme or even a single question and delve deeper — your story will be more cohesive that way.
- Be emotionally strong: Videos are all about portraying emotion and helping the reader identify with the subject. Longer videos need an emotional pull — like any good story — and should be framed as such.
What do you think of Thrash Lab’s work? Let us know in the comments.
- Howard Stern Show Reporter Pens Book on Mob Boss Whitey Bulger's Trial
- The CIR Is On It: Telling the Story of Solitary Confinement for Teens Over, and Over, and Over Again
- MediaShift Launches EducationShift to Move Journalism Education Forward
- Journalism Crowdfunder Helps Climate Micro-Pub Launch