Reviews, Views and Adventures in Content Creation

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Vlogger Interviews: Cullen and Katie [Bamachick1101]

About this interview

Alabama residents Cullen and Katie are in the midst of spending a year in Florida as part of Katie's education.  They began vlogging on their YouTube channel, Bamachick1101 to keep in touch with family and friends back home - but soon found that other people they didn't know were interested as well.  They've become friends with other vloggers and some of their subscribers, too.

They've vlogged every day they've been in Florida - and they've found that creating for an audience - and knowing their subscribers appreciate their upbeat attitude - helps them keep upbeat and positive, even through difficult times.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Vlogger Interviews: FlashVlog

About this Vlog:

Gordon, a resident of Seattle, Washingto, has a vlogging story that really represents what we might call "The Hidden World of Vloggers."  If you're not already plugged in in some way to the vlogging community, you may not realize just how diverse and wide-spread it really is.  Gordon's day job is as a landscaper/Gardner - yet no one he encounters in his daily life has ever been aware of his online life.  It's not that he's keeping it a secret - but the fact is that vlogging still hasn't reached the mass audience.

In this interview, we talk about the future of vlogging, and the possibility that, with more accessible tools like AppleTV and other devices, casual viewing of YouTube content might finally open the vlogging world to the world at large.  Also, we touch on the challenge of balancing vlogging - with family.

Who are the unexpected vloggers in your life?

Check out Gordon's YouTube channel, FlashVlog.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Vlogger Interviews: Ryan Abe [ForSkitsAndGiggles]

More about Ryan Abe:

There was a time, not so long ago, when a young entertainer's heart would skip a beat when offered the chance to make the big jump to television - Ryan Abe got an email recently just like that - an agent, perhaps, who asked, "how would you like your own tv show?"

"I guess he expected me to be wowed by it," he says.

He wasn't.

At 21 years old, Ryan is already a successful YouTuber.  His channel, ForSkitsAndGiggles, has a subscriber base over 242,000, and  his YouTube Partner revenues have made creating online video a full time job.  More importantly, Ryan doesn't think of YouTube as simply a stop along the way.  It's the place to be.

"A lot of YouTubers have turned down TV shows left and right, because they already have an audience.  Why would they send their audience to a show that could be canceled within a week?"

The entertainment industry is slowly awakening to the power of the YouTube community.  In his March 15, 2012 Daily Variety "Tech Bytes" column, David Cohen wrote, "The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that YouTube is getting ready to burn down the filmed entertainment business as we know it.  In fact, the match has already been struck.  We just haven't felt the heat yet."  He suggests that the change will be profound; as 78 rpm records popularized the era of the three minute pop song, the three minute YouTube video may very well become dominant form of video entertainment.

Ryan spoke recently with a veteran newscaster, who recalled his experience in the early days of television, and advised him to "just keep doing this, because everyone told me I was an idiot to want to work on television," back when radio was still King.   

"It took my dad a long time for him to even accept what I do and he was, I guess, concerned:  'what is my son doing, he's going outside, dressed as a squirrel?  What is he doing?'   And I always said, 'I think that this might do something, I have an idea it could go in a good direction' "  Today, Ryan's dad is convinced that his son was right.

"It's  a really nice thing to think about, to be part of something that is technically changing the whole game, entertainment wise - and they're scared," he says of the traditional media industry, "they're really scared.  And I think that's a good thing for us."

To use an expression dating back to the early days of radio:  stay tuned!

As Al Jolson said in the first "talkie" motion picture in 1927, "You ain't seen nothing yet!"

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Creaky Old Gaming Companies: The Death of Milo

I’m a big fan of Peter Molyneux’s “Milo” concept, introduced at E3 in 2009 as a proposed new game for the then yet-to-be-introduced Kinect add-on for the Microsoft Xbox gaming system.  Kinect essentially does away with hand controllers, and allows the user to interact through using body movement, voice interaction and facial recognition technologies.

"Emotion Capture" - Directing Milo from John Dower on Vimeo.

The Milo concept, as suggested, allowed the player to actually speak to the main character, a ten year old boy - essentially carrying on almost-human conversations (and employing, as Molyneux himself admitted, a bit of smoke-and-mirrors trickery).  Later details would reveal the game's actual story to be somewhat dark in nature, suggesting the possibility of a uniquely immersive, terrifying experience.

Despite the derision of a good part of the gaming community, the concept actually held great promise.  The demos, while largely staged, were intriguing.  Though I wasn’t a gamer, I would have shelled out a few hundred dollars just to experience what would likely have evolved into form of entertainment all it’s own.  I think it would have brought legions of other non-gamers into the gaming world.

Unfortunately “Milo” never came to be.  It was nowhere to be seen at Kinect’s debut.  Molyneaux would later admit that the project was dead and buried.

Why?  In Patrick Garratt’s interview with Molyneaux, just published on the gaming website, Molyneaux reveals that “Milo” was abandoned precisely because he and his Lionhead (a Microsoft-aligned gaming company) associates decided that it simply didn’t fit into the current gaming environment.  In other words, it was simply too far removed from the industry norm: it wasn’t what current gamers would buy.

Like any industry, there’s always the bottom line.  Reaction from the gaming industry, from this non-gamer’s perspective (full disclosure: I eventually bought a PS3), was tepid at best.  Part of that was due to Molyneaux’s reputation as one who tends to exaggerate his upcoming projects.  Apart from that skepticism, there seemed to be an unwillingness to buy into the vision of gaming that could be immersive to this extent.

Part of the problem, I believe, is that gaming is a huge, mature multi-billion dollar industry.  Many games, at their core, are similar in nature  - but it’s what their core audience wants.  Gaming companies are not in the business of being pioneers; they’re in the business of making money.

The danger, however, is that their intransigence will one day leave the current gaming industry far behind.

Case in point:  Before became the go-to place for nearly everything, there was the Sears catalog.  For near one hundred years, Americans could be anything and everything from the catalog, and have the items delivered to their doorstep (even prefab homes, at one time).   Sears, however went out of the catalog business in 1993, just before online retail began it’s rise.   In 1994, Jeff Bezos created  In 1995, Amazon began operations - eventually becoming, in effect, the Sears catalog of the Internet age.

It took Sears over 100 years to become a creaky old company that didn’t have the vision that might have changed it’s fate. 

Things move more quickly today.  It only took 35 years or so for the gaming industry to become creaky...

Previous posts about "Milo"

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Vlogger Interview Goes Rogue: Spiggitz the Cat [TheSchwartzcaster]

About this interview:

Well, okay - this is more a parody than an interview - but it brings up one of the challenges to doing the Vlogger Interviews as I move ahead - many people seem to think that I have some sort of worthiness test. The fact is that I'm more interested in enthusiastic vloggers than their subscriber count.  It's also a bit of an experiment to see I can exploit the cat thing on YouTube!

Special thanks to Spiggitz the Cat (via TheSchwartzcaster) for taking time out from the litter box for me.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Why Young Filmmakers Should Go Viral

As video production equipment and software have become simpler and more affordable, well-appointed "filmmaking" programs have thrived.  Quality, of course, varies, but for aspiring content creators there's never been a better time to learn the craft.

 One of the greatest challenges facing both students and professors, however, is determining the skills necessary to push their newly created content out to an audience. While many seem focused on the traditional "big-ticket" markets of television and motion pictures, creating content for a digital audience offers the media entrepreneur an opportunity to "get in on the ground floor" of a rapidly developing industry.   It's no longer productive for a media student to simply learn to create.  Learning how to create media and use it to achieve goals or ambitions is a critical part of that education.

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Noah Arceneaux (email:, a professor of Journalism and Media Studies at San Diego State University.  Professor Arceneaux's course, Creative Uses of Emerging Media, is the capstone course in the Media Studies program.  While originally intended as a class focusing on theory, Arceneaux devised a concept to bring in "real world" experience.

The assignment:

"The challenge is seemingly simple, though also difficult at the same time – create a video and accumulate as many views on YouTube as possible. You will perform this task in groups of your own choosing."

Each student is also required to present a paper on their contribution, and any insights, knowledge or expertise they acquired along the way.

Exactly how students acquire views is up to them.    Some, naturally, focus first on their existing social networks.  Others, he notes, also extend their efforts into the analog world.  One group posted flyers with scannable QR codes at strategic locations around the SDSU campus.

The first class, offered last fall, was a great success. The winning video, to date, has accumulated 11,783 views.  Arceneaux notes that "the student had the clever idea of taking advantage of the nyan cat meme AND recognized that "costume" was a popular search term near Halloween."

Here's a collection of the Fall, 2011 videos, and Professor Arceneaux's observations:

While the videos themselves didn't offer great production value, this initial experience of creating for an audience in the digital age could be invaluable for any student hoping to build a forward-looking career in content creation.

In fact, it just might be essential.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Vlogger Interviews: Martin [Princeword]

 Martin is a  dedicated vlogger from Karlskrona, Sweden. He's actually been vlogging since before YouTube existed.  His interest is also academic - he's written a these on vlogging and social media, and is now preparing a documentary exploring the subject - he's seeking your participation.  Martin also discusses the Nordic vlogging community.

Some supplementary information about Martin not covered in the interview:
Though Martin has had an interest in the power of media for quite some time, he was, briefly, the center of a media firestorm during the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007.  He had arrived on the campus a day before on a educational collaboration, and was on campus, with his video camera, during the shooting.  He provided the video, free of charge, to the media (he says he never wanted to be accused of profiting off of the tragedy), and was interviewed by media in the U.S. and in Sweden.

He had what he describes as a surreal experience being interviewed by various reporters from CNN and other outlets:  One reporter, in interviewing Martin, referred to Olaf Palme, the Swedish Prime Minister assassinated over twenty years earlier, perhaps looking for a parallel between the two entirely unrelated events.  Martin, however, wasn't entirely critical - he singled out CNN's Anderson Cooper as a particularly compassionate reporter.  Martin intends to explore his personal experience at Virginia Tech in an upcoming documentary.

Martin's Primary Channel is PrinceWord
His Secondary Channel is TheSwedishLad

Saturday, March 3, 2012

No Social Media? No, Social Media!

Mashable recently posted an article, Can You Survive Without Social Media for Two Weeks?  - which challenged users to embark on what seems to be  a harrowing experiment:

"in order to see how fully social media has been ingrained in our lives, we want to test your resolve. We propose a challenge: Who can survive without social media for two weeks? This means you can't update your status, send a tweet, +1 a post or "check in" to a restaurant. For two weeks you will only be able to engage with few online resources."

I'm sure the results will prove fascinating - but there is no &^%&^ way I'm taking part!  Call me an addict if you'd like, but I don't think I'm alone in believing the whole exercise to be, in my world at least, totally impractical.  I'm not an obsessive user of any particular site, but I use many of them on a regular basis.

And no, my hand isn't shaking uncontrollably at the mere thought  (but does trembling count?) .

I don't "check in" anywhere, for the most part, so I wouldn't miss that sort of thing - but actions like posting blogs, uploading videos, are all forbidden.   Chatting isn't allowed. Commenting on a YouTube video or a Facebook isn't allowed. Interacting through social media is simply banned.

The fact is, it's simply not practical.  Social Media has become an integral part of the way I live my life - it's not only an efficient way of how I interact with friends (off and online), but it's an important part of my own personal (and constantly developing) business strategy.  I can't give up social media for two weeks any more than I can give up my cell phone or email or simply leaving my home.

That doesn't mean I wouldn't disconnect (mostly) if I went on vacation, but at the moment, I'm workin' .

I look forward to the article - but I'm happy right here on the grid, thank you!