I’ve said before on other platforms that one of the things I’d like to figure out in my life is how to optimize the experience of oral storytelling for online video. I am myself a storyteller and a bit of a YouTube addict. So, figuring out how to combine the two became a subject of interest rather naturally.
However, it might not be as easy a task as you might think. Oral storytelling is an odd artform. Ancient and yet odd. Through my own personal experiences, I’ve found that it’s an artform that becomes better through proximity. Sitting in an audience and watching a teller on stage is nice but I find it’s even better when sitting in a circle with friends to tell stories. So, imagine how much more distance is added when the teller is in a window on a computer screen. On top of that, oral storytelling probably maintains a reputation to this day because it’s viewed as a “stripped down” sort of media. The onus is entirely on the storyteller, their voice and their gestures. Meanwhile, video of any kind always exemplifies the visual.
A hard nut to crack if ever there was one.
However, if there was ever a YouTuber who comes really, really close, it’s probably Dael Kingsmill of the YouTube channel Monarch’s Factory. I’ve mentioned Dael before in a couple of different places. One was my “Awards Season” post and the other one was the “Fairy Tube” post. However, I thought it would be a good time to give her a post of her own. Previously I hadn’t done it because she largely focuses on myths and I don’t cover myths. But I figure, what the heck!
I first discovered Dael’s work through the Geek and Sundry Vlogs channel (which I actually discovered before the actual Geek and Sundry channel). The Geek and Sundry Vlogs channel was a channel on which many people with geeky passions would post vlogs (video logs) about what they were interested in whether it was comic books, cosplay, retro gaming, books or even life tips like how to indulge in that stuff on a budget. Among the vloggers were folks like Amy Dallen, Kiri Callaghan, Scott Tumility and the 2 Broke Geeks. And one of the vloggers in the group was a young Australian lady named Dael Kingsmill with a show called Mythology 101.
On Mythology 101, Dael would sometimes talk about the mythological influences on modern pop culture (gee, that sounds kind of like someone I know) but a lot of the time she would simply tell stories. She would bring her own quirky style to the ancient stories. Sometimes they would even be illustrated by one panel cartoons that wouldn’t tell the story for her but would at least provide the punchline to an unspoken joke. She has a real knack for exemplifying the absurd in ancient stories.
Alas, the Geek and Sundry vlogs channel is no more. Yet, like many of the Geek and Sundry vloggers, she started supplying the same sort of content on her own channel. Not only that, she also expanded on it. In addition to telling myths, she started an occasional series of fairy tale retellings called “Faerie Daels”. Like this one she did of “Fitcher’s Bird”.
She’s also dabbled in literary stories and stories from her family’s history. You can see her retelling of “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” HERE and you can find out about how her family dealt with the Black Friday Bushfires of 1939 HERE.
The secret to Dael’s success? Well, I told you about her style and cartoons and how she manages to play up the absurdity. But one of the other things I need to mention is just the fact that she manages to exemplify visuals without it taking away from her own telling of the story. One very notable thing is her background. Yes, the background. The thing she’s sitting in front of. One of the worst things that a vlogger can do (other than simply being bad at vlogging) is to sit in front of a boring background. A background should always be visually interesting without distracting from the vlogger/storyteller. A boring background makes a video look boring. I’ve seen far too many storytellers who were capable enough at speech and gestures but ruined the look of a video by sitting or standing in front of a plain white or black background (the only YouTuber I’ve ever seen make a plain white background work is The Nostalgia Critic, and that’s because he makes up for it with movie clips and sketches that keep things interesting). And if you’re a storyteller who’s bothered by the idea of having to play up the visual in a storytelling video for whatever reason, well, have you considered maybe podcasting instead?
There’s more than just storytelling videos on Monarch’s Factory. There are also gaming videos and other vlogs. There’s also TED. Not TED talks, that’s another channel. TED here means Too easily Distracted, in which Dael elaborates on the random thoughts that run through her mind on a regular basis. But I think it will always be the Mythology videos (and to a lesser extent Faerie Daels) that keep viewers hooked.
She may not have completely optimized the storytelling experience for video, but she’s one of the closest I’ve seen. She’s certainly better than my own early experiments with it (HERE is a sample. I warn you, it’s not pretty).
Just recently, Dael posted up a video entitled “Fate of the Factory” in which she relates that she not only finally earned her university degree (congratulations!) but has plans to change up the format of her channel going forward. So, I don’t know what her videos are going to be like going forward but I wish her luck in her continuing efforts. But I thought this would be the perfect time to put up a post about her channel as she enters this exciting new phase in her YouTube career.
So, if you haven’t seen any of Dael’s videos, check out the ones she has from the past and be prepared for what she’s got coming in the future.