After my first video on the history of progress (very broadly construed), I've tried to give a sense of the kind of "progress mindset" that I think we should be fostering and encouraging.  In that vein, I've got a new video up on the widespread scientific belief that flight was impossible and why it's important to just attempt the impossible anyway.

Would very much appreciate feedback and thoughts - this is new to me and I am still taking my time learning the processes. I do, however, think I have a much better hold on editing and script writing now so I'm hoping to really increase my output very quickly and eventually to move to longer videos (video essay content is the eventual goal), to properly explore topics in detail.

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Dr. Newport, I enjoyed your video very much and the content is excellent and certainly worth a few minutes of my time sharing my thoughts on it. (I have some copy-editing/writing experience and am familiar with graphic design issues but not video.) I hope you find the comments below useful in some small way.

the essay is very well written, clear, concise, well-organized, has citations and interesting examples, well done

your voiceover is excellent, enunciation, tempo, evenness, and you have the added advantage of that authoritative British baritone so persuasive to Americans like me (I am only half kidding)

your video image is fine, you look young and informal, but earnest and obviously both passionate and well informed (i.e., the video does not seem slickly produced or professionally acted but rather seems like a polished, sincere effort by a trustworthy expert)

there’s not enough time in the video spent lingering on the maps and the quotes and anything that takes some time to process, it goes too fast from you to image back to you back to another image, etc.

some of the art images can be a second or two (someone falling, in a painting…is that Icarus?) but others need a lot more time because we’re taking in both your meaning (in the audio) and the meaning of the image on its own terms (in the video), and the connection between the two (in our heads, but then you keep talking and we have to integrate that too…), all at once, and that takes more time (at least for me) than you allow

solution? maybe less of you (no offense), or just fewer images in general, or different images that I’m not so inclined to pause and zoom in on to fully understand and read

also, if you’re only going to be speaking for say 10 seconds, there should not be a cut between takes, it should be all one take, and if you do include video of yourself talking you could spend slightly longer with the camera on you rather than continually cutting away. It’s a balance, and the balance is not quite right, but not being a video editor myself I am not sure how to articulate the problem.

the quotes obscure the faces, so I’d rather see the text below people’s photos (less of a problem for Edison and Beaumont, whose eyes you can at least see through the text) or do what you did with Arthur C. Clarke, put the quote after the photo, that will let us take more time reading his face and determining his character and then reading the quote, rather than trying to do both at once

and I especially DO NOT like the quote over your own face, put it below, on the bottom of the screen! I don’t want your face obscured or our eye contact with you obscured while you’re talking…here we had established this nice rapport and suddenly you’ve undermined it!

also on that note, your ending is wonderful but you aren’t looking at us (your video isn’t shown) when you say thank you (for watching and subscribing), which lessens the impact of your statement (almost like a liar, looking away! surely you mean it sincerely)—in general if you’re talking, we should either see you for the whole sentence, or at least the whole phrase. Some of the cuts throughout the video are mid-word and that is a problem, it’s jarring and distracts me from taking in the meaning of what I’m hearing.

on my mobile device (holding the phone vertically), most of the images are clear but the small ones all together around 6:45 are a bit unclear because too small, but I do like the impact of your graphical arrangement

I didn’t spend too much time analyzing your use of graphics and how they animate them, but I enjoyed the visual interest that provided, it mixed it up a bit. I’m not a big video-watcher or podcast listener, so normally a 11min video is not going to hold my full interest and this one did. (It’s partly your subject, partly your voice, but also the visually colorful and engaging graphics.)

around 8:30 you move on too quickly from Clarke’s wonderful 2nd law quote, I’d allow a pause here! (it’s building to the climax, too, which is a nice place for a little mental “breather”/silence for effect)

the blue light over your bookcase is very distracting and the background seems cluttered (I’m a book lover, too, but it reads “busy”)

the “valuable negative information” graphical text feels like 3 columns that are about to be filled in, which is probably not your intent. Maybe put it in normally spaced text, with quotes around it to show it’s a connected phrase, a euphemism (a good one).

I like your little laughs and smiles at the amusing bits, make sure those are with the camera on you, not an image, lest we miss out on your expression…that’s part of your emotional connection with your audience, which will motivate them to continue—you’re experiencing the same amusement together. Seeing that on your face as well as hearing it (in your breath) will reinforce that connection and bring them back for more videos.

I hope you do more! Or have you already? Very nice to make your acquaintance and I hope the above has been valuable. You should feel very proud of your work. Thanks for sharing it.

Molly Johnson

Thanks so much for these excellent comments. Really really appreciate all your thoughts on this, it's incredibly helpful.

Timing is an absolute nightmare and so easy to get wrong when you spend so long around the same footage. My first video had comments I was taking too short a time on graphs and text and clearly that's still something I have to be better on!

Re. time on screen, I'm very happy to reduce myself some more haha! One restriction there, that I realised with this video, was it's actually something mostly dictated in the quality of images/footage I can use in the piece - I had a lot of extra "airplane" stuff footage but it got very boring. But a lot of stuff I watch doesn't spend so long on individuals (bar some exceptions) so I agree!

Honestly really appreciate you taking the time to give such extensive thoughts - and to put together the bits you liked and thought worked well, as well as improvements. I have a document with all feedback I've received and I look through it and try to iteratively improve when editing my next one, so this makes a massive difference, thanks again!