Attention to Craft: Neistat, Nerdwriter, and Visual Storytelling

If you’ve ever spent some time on Youtube, the name Casey Neistat has probably flown around your visual vicinity. Neistat’s entered the digital spotlight in the past few years due to his short films, cinematic daily vlogging, and a small cameo in the summer thriller, Nerve.

A vlogger that might have missed your side-scroller suggestions, however, is Evan Puschak, also known as Nerdwriter. Puschak speaks to a multitude of topics including politics and philosophy but it’s his dissection of film that holds a special place in my heart.

It was during a late night binge of such videos that the two intertwined. In a vlog uploaded on August 3rd, 2016, Nerdwriter broke down Neistat’s stylistic choices, composition, and  editing style, quoting Neistat to say: “my goal of these vlogs isn’t and has never been to share the intimacies of my life, it’s always just been to create a good or entertaining piece of content every day”.

And that’s exactly what he does. Neistat takes his previous knowledge of traditional filmmaking into a realm that is predominately contrived of amateur work. Puschak states Neistat wants his vlogs to “feel natural, but not be natural”, departing from the format commonly associated with daily vlogs.  Neistat’s success in these endeavors comes from attention to detail, whether it be waiting a half hour to get that sunset lighting, using three different cameras to capture angles of movement, or selecting various types of cameras, from handhelds to drones, incorporate their own “personality” into different shots.

As I continued to watch the video, not only did my appreciation for Neistat grow, but I found myself more and more impressed by the citation quality present in Puschak’s format. Blame it on the undergrad in me, but the skilled entanglement of Neistat’s footage with his own narrative is something my peers and I would kill for. A journalistic quality that’s somewhat rare in recent reporting and reviewing.

Both vloggers are examples of how creative nonfiction can be used successfully. By using the world around them they are able to speak to their own perspectives and personalities.Nerdwriter’s videos place an amazing amount of attention on the details— sifting through footage for the perfect shot to prove points eloquently, analyzing small frames, and editing them all into a cohesive narrative. Neistat is a master of pacing, using quick cuts, time-lapses, and zooms effectively to bring his audiences into his world of living in New York City.

Although the two diverge on the type of content they produce, they both play on the traditional and creative variables present in nonfiction storytelling in a way that can both be entertaining and informative. It’s a balance that can be tricky, especially when tied to a genre that stresses its high standards on how truth is represented. For anyone looking to dip their toes into the waters, however, I highly recommend taking a note from these two on how to get it right.

To see the full video see here.

Want more? Check out both Casey Neistat and Nerdwriter‘s full channels.

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