YouTube as a medium for long form storytelling

For someone who is really into reading and writing, I watch a lot of telly. Over the last few years I have found myself being more and more drawn into the potential of YouTube as a medium for long form storytelling. To begin with I was very put off by the prank videos and found the ‘five tips to…’ format of video particularly uninspiring. However, my partner is a bit of a genius at finding interesting channels to watch, and I’ve recently found myself a bit addicted to the stories that Morgan of Gold Shaw Farm tells (see his video above about his dog for a good example). Baby Magpie, who has just learned to wave, likes to watch the ducks and geese before bedtime, and to chat to them in a sing song voice. Sometimes he gives Morgan and Toby Dog a wave.

In my twenties I did a PhD in psychology and I was particularly interested in how stories affect us. It is an interest that still intrigues me in a variety of different ways, although it has been a while since a did any comprehensive research. However, during my reading for my PhD I came across the idea that a story, whether fact or fiction, needs to have an emotional truth to really move the reader. Of course what constitutes that truth will be different for different people. As a reader and writer of fantasy, I am fully aware that not everyone is able to identify with the perspective of an elf.

Which brings me back to Morgan and his stories about Gold Shaw Farm. I’m not a farmer, and while I try my hand in the garden now and then, I do not claim to want to start a farm. However, I still find my self wanting to know more about the ducks, and geese, and Hobo Barn cat. I think that Morgan is doing something really interesting with YouTube as a medium for long form story telling. In each video he picks up a different thread of the story of his farm, and he has an instinctive understanding of emotional truth in the stories he tells about his animals. While he delights in the new life that comes on to his farm during hatching season, he also does not shy away from the loss and sorrow that farming also necessarily involves. I know that some of the readers here are very interested in storytelling in it’s many splendid forms, and if that is you I would encourage you to spend some time with this channel.

As regular readers of this blog may know, I have a bit of an issue in being interested in too many things at once, and potentially diving into too many different types of media. The consequences of this are that it’s difficult to actually finish anything. My current fantasy work in progress features a character who is a YouTuber, and as part of that process I started a YouTube channel of my own a while ago. I imagine it will surprise absolutely no one to learn that it is now sitting, unloved, waiting for me to do something about it.

At the moment I am finding that the time I need to devote to my gorgeous toddler make it very difficult to maintain a film making practice, but I hope to return to it when the demands on my time ease a little bit. One of the ideas I’m thinking about at the moment is trying to interview YouTubers who I like for my own channel as a form of research to inform that character, and to understand what it is that people enjoy about making the films they do. Let me know if this is something you would be interested in and I will try and make it happen, when I have a moment…

Thank you for reading. I also write, make art and films. If you want to hear more about my writing projects please join my mailing list here. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

More adventures in YouTube: Slow TV

A few weeks ago I wrote about how I have been exploring how to use YouTube as one of the characters in my novel is a YouTuber. I’m taking a bit of time to think about what I want to do, and in the last few weeks have been exploring the idea of Slow TV as it looked likely that there would be a new lock down.

My approach so far has been basically to pair films of things that are nice to look at with sound recordings of things that are nice to look at. My first three films were of sunrises, in real time that I recorded while away recently in the cotswolds. I then added in a sound track of my cat having a nice purr.

The effect is strangely relaxing. If this sounds like something you would like to see you can have a look at one of them here:

Thank you for reading. I also make art and films. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

This month on Pram Cam: interesting books and chatting about art.

Just a short post today as I am struggling a bit for time at the moment. I have been continuing my experiments with YouTube and have uploaded a new video.

In this video I experimented with a different filming set up, chatted about some books I find inspiring, and talked a bit about how all my different projects fit together.

To find out more, please have a watch here:

Thank you for reading. I also make art. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Experiments in creativity: Pram Cam!

In the novel I am working on at the moment one of the characters is a YouTuber and I had been thinking about having a go myself, partly for research and partly to get back into film making. However I was finding it difficult to know what kind of films I should make as I didn’t think the sitting and talking to camera format would work for me.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the YouTuber and psycho-geographer John Rogers and how I had been finding his videos inspiring. His videos involve a narrated walk and while  I would not be able to replicate his kind of carefully researched walks as I don’t have time, I did think a kind of ‘walk and talk’ format would be worth trying. Walking and thinking has been part of my creative process for a long time and this feels like something that fits with the work I’m already doing. 

I have since bought myself a cheap sports camera (a Dragon Touch 4K – this is the model if you are interested (affiliate link)) and have been experimenting with ways to attach it to my pram. So far I have managed to go for a walk with the camera at South Norwood Country Park, which I know relatively well, and have edited a film out of that footage. It includes a kind of rambling narration which combines thoughts about the location, a bit about me personally and some thoughts about my novel.

And so (drumroll please!) I bring to you Pram Cam! I have set up a YouTube channel under the umbrella of Magpie at Midnight Films, and my first film is now up. I think I’m going to be able to put up about one film a month, which isn’t a great deal of content by YouTube standards, but realistically all I have time for at the moment.

I would really appreciate it if you would have a look at my video here, and consider subscribing to my channel:


Thank you for reading. I also make art. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.

Weekend work in progress: animated sections for my Doc

Here is a little extract from a documentary I have been working on for a long time now. I’ve been experimenting with different forms of animation and this one is pretty simple compared to some of the other things I am thinking about, but actually I think it looks really nice and clean. It could probably do with a few tweaks around speed and that kind of thing, but mostly this one has come together quite nicely.

Would love to hear any comments/ feedback.

Like what you see? I also make art. You can things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying.

A little clip from my documentary, a long time work in progress

I have been working for some time on a documentary about a lovely man called Stuart Hughes for some time now. I really long time, actually. The outcome will probably be quite different to what I initially planned, as it’s a bit like ideas have been sitting in a slow cooker.

I have finally managed to put a little clip up on Vimeo. I would love to know what you think. You can have a here:

It started with a short wave radio… from Rose Thompson on Vimeo.

Fancy some things with my things on? My designs are available here. If you wanted to. Just saying: Threadless Redbubble Society 6 

Experiments in paper cut walk cycles

I’ve been putting a lot more thought into my documentary film recently. I’m really interested not just in telling a story but in using the film to look at how you can choose to tell stories about trauma and mental health. I’m also interested in working out how you tell stories about people in a way that doesn’t reduce them being ‘that guy that the thing happened to. I’m not sure I’m there on that yet.

At the moment the majority of the actual film footage I have is of interviews. Personally I really like the style of doc where the film maker lets a person tell their story like this. However it’s visually not that interesting to look at. One of the aesthetic decisions I have made is to try to animate some sections of the interview footage, and to animate where I only have audio material. Here’s a photo of an experiment with papercut walk cycles. I’m going to photograph these, and then feed the images into adobe animate to create a couple walking. I’ll let you know how I get on with that. 

Animation, especially using a papercut style imagary that I really like to work with, is a really time hungry process. As I’m squeezing in an hour here and there around a full time job it’s taking me weeks to produce a few seconds worth of footage. It’s slow going but I’m pretty happy with this. I like using sections of footage that visually suggest the story is a construction – as much as the footage is of someone telling their own story in their own words, it’s still it’s my take on it. There could be other ways of telling the same events.

Works in progress

I’ve hit the ‘too many things, not enough time’ issue again this week so haven’t got a huge amount of thoughtful things to write about. We had a lunch out today and there basically wants anything vegan, or vegetarian on the menu that wasn’t full of gluten or cheese heavy. We ended up eating meat. And we didn’t really really enjoy it. This time last year we were total carnivores so that’s quite a change. I think when Veganury ends we’ll be staying mostly vegan, which is a decision I feel pretty happy with. So that news I guess.

I’ve been picking up some of my bigger projects and trying to push them a bit more. I’ve been working on some images for a documentary film I have been working on for a while. Some sections of the doc will take the form of animated sequences set to audio narration. I’ve been working with my papercut work in these animations. It sucks up time as each thing has to be drawn and cut multiple times, but I like effect and I think in the long (very long!) run it will be worth it.

New project in progress: Poor Boyfriend

My boyfriend and I have had this quite long running joke now that he should start a blog called ‘poor boyfriend’ because he does a lot of things that free up time and space for me to be creative, like chunks of the house work. I’m probably a bit challenging to live with, given the old artistic temperament and my love of indulging in childish and playful things at times that aren’t always that well chosen. He’s also super tidy and I’m…. not. The concept was a kind of diary from the point of view of a rather put upon boyfriend living with a ‘creative’. I really like the idea and think it could be turned in a little series of animations, which would also give me a reason to get familiar with another aspect of the creative softwear I am paying a subscription fee for and totally underusing at the moment. I’m thinking a little series on Vimeo or YouTube could work.

Here’s a little ‘poor boyfriend’ sketch for now. I’ve chosen a super simple style to make it easy to play around with the idea for a while before I settle on things like style, tone and mood.