Reviews, Views and Adventures in Content Creation

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Vlogger Interviews: Fur!

About this interview:
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to interview a family in which the mom and three of her sons all had YouTube channels.  It was great fun to talk to them, and it's a bit overwhelming to imagine the level of creative energy that must be swirling around that house!  I decided to return to this family and do an in-depth interview with one of the boys, 14 year-old "Fur" (why Fur?  It's in the interview!)  Fur is both a YouTuber and YouTube partner, and an aspiring filmmaker.  He's the modern equivalent of the young filmmakers of my generation, with lots better equipment and a much bigger audience.  In the days of super-8, our audiences typically consisted of family, friends, and sometimes classmates.  Fur has followers around the world.

I've believed for a long time that we're going to see some great films emerging someday from Fur's generation.  Unlike any generation before him, Fur not only has the equipment to make a high quality film, but, for the first time, can learn from his audience.  There's direct feedback on his videos, or course, but there's also the analytics that YouTube offers, which allow him to see where people are viewing his videos from, their ages, how people are actually finding and viewing his videos.  and even whether viewers are staying through and watching each video, and when they stop.  By the time he creates for a living, I believe, he'll understand what works and doesn't work with his audience.

The great filmmakers twenty years from now, learning from their earliest experiences on YouTube,  may develop a unique instinct to connect with their audiences and create movies that are engaging, suspenseful, heart-wrenching and entertaining.

You can find Fur at

Directing my first film at 11 years old

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What the Traditional Entertainment Industry Get About YouTubers (and what YouTubers should do about it)

The disconnect between the entertainment industry and the enormous talent pool on YouTube remains - and it doesn't show any signs of lessening any time soon.    While some online content creators may feel frustrated at their attempts to connect with the multi-billion dollar industry, the reality just may be that their greatest opportunities may be right where they started - online.  Even as the Hollywood community begins to understand that the future of entertainment is online, there remains among many in that world a fundamental lack of understanding of the nature of this new genre.

Recently, YouTube began to introduce funded, sponsored channels as a new generation answer to traditional television.  Some channels are, in fact, created by established YouTubers - others are sponsored by traditional media companies, publications or programs.  Most, though, are falling into the traditional media trap, failing to recognize that the appeal of content created by YouTubers isn't simply programming - it's the personal connection the viewer maintains with the content creator.   

Even moderately successful YouTubers spend a great deal of their time maintaining that connection with the audience - responding to channel comments, updating across social media and responding to feedback.   Top YouTubers, whose weekly views may number in the millions, wtih comments in the tens of thousands, still focus on innovative ways to create an interactive environment.

Traditional entertainment - motion pictures and television - emphasize the creation and marketing of a finite product.  The nature of even the simplest television program is that it's a team effort.  While industry power brokers are beginning to recognize the value of this emerging talent pool, they may not be certain why they're valuable.

In the history of motion pictures, the "auteur" is celebrated as the director with ultimate creative control, whose imprint is unmistakeable throughout the production. puts it simply:  A filmmaker, usually a director, who exercises creative control over his or her works and has a strong personal style.    Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick are classic examples.  Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting, Milk, Elephant), Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life) and Lindsey Anderson (The Royal Tannenbaums) are more contemporary examples.

With the trend toward high quality, low cost production and post-production equipment, every YouTube content creator has the potential to be an auteur (though, like motion pictures, not always the talent).   With the individual or small team, and lack of studio gatekeepers that once dashed the dreams of thousands, today's visionaries don't have to beg for the chance to express themselves.  

Even more than their motion picture predecessors, online content creators also have the opportunity to directly engage their audience.  Their power to influence is only just emerging.  As the content creation community continues to grow, develop and learn, that power will only increase.

Rather than knocking on the old, worn traditional media door, it might be more productive, in the long run, for quality YouTubers (or online content creators in general) to also sharpen their entrepreneurial skills.  The opportunity to succeed isn't limited to the tried and true (i.e. promoting and networking within the YouTube universe) - it lies in reaching the millions - and billions - who don't yet know that "YouTubers" exist.

What do you think?  Who are the Entrepreneurs on YouTube?

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Vlogger Interviews: AdamUPNow

About This Interview
Adam, a Los Angeles-area resident, discovered vlogging through major YouTube personality iJustine.  After a while, he decided that he wanted to try it out, too, and has been working on his own channel, AdamUpNow and its associated channels.  His content features gaming, comedy, skits, music videos and collaborations.  He's a friend of former Vlogger Interview subject, Andy8b.  He's also attended the last two Vidcon YouTube conferences in Los Angeles and Anaheim, and calls the latest event "a life changing experience."

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Vlogger Interviews: SonicOrbStudios

About this interview:
A while back, I had the opportunity to be interviewed by TheQuadSpot, a team of YouTubers offering an ongoing series of discussions with YouTubers of every description.  The interviews are conducted over YouTube,  and are more a casual chat between the four QuadSpotters and the guest than a straight interviews (as are mine).

I'm especially interested in the entrepreneurs on YouTube - those who are looking at the big picture, rather than keeping their vision limited to one tried and true path.  Since I met them a couple of months ago, I've wanted to interview the Quadspot team as well.

This interview features David Stroz, of SonicOrbStudios, owner of a video production service in New Jersey, creator of tutorials and reviews on production hardware and software, and longtime YouTube vlogger.  We chat about his YouTube story, and how TheQuadSpot came about.

Check him out:
Check out TheQuadSpot:
See my interview on TheQuadspot:

The Missing Link: Final Thoughts on Vidcon 2012

Recently, I attended Vidcon, a conference of YouTubers held this year at the Anaheim Convention Center.   This was the third annual conference, growing from a total registration of just 1,400 in 2010, to advance registration of 7,200 this year.  In 2010, the main events were held in a ballroom at the Century Plaza Hotel.  This year, they were held in a sports arena.  There's no greater indication of the explosive growth of the personal online video world than this singular event, which brings together vloggers of all ages, along with their fans.

Vidcon wasn't perfect. This is, after all, a young industry - still testing its influence and developing pathways to success.  YouTube (and its smaller cousins) are both artistic and entrepreneurial playgrounds.

Just as important is the sense of community - something that's completely missed by most casual visitors to YouTube.  Friendships and collaborations are the heart and soul of this world.  I'm still somewhat fascinated with the reality that so many have no idea of this world.  Even new YouTubers express surprise at the extent of "Community."

Vidcon is both a community and professional development event, but was a bit surprising in the obvious lack of interest from vendors of professional video equipment - camera, lighting, softeware vendors, and more whose presence would have both benefited YouTubers wanting to "up their game" and the vendors themselves.  The reasons why these vendors are missing may be twofold - they don't know the huge potential of serving this audience, and/or the community (and perhaps the Vidcon sales people) need to do a better job of outreach to these vendors.  I'd like to see a "tech alley" in the vendor area, providing a one-stop-shop where YouTubers can learn, enhance and improve the technical quality of their videos.

In summary, my top ten observations about Vidcon:
  1. The growth of online video is dramatic; attendance at the 2010 Vidcon was 1400, attendance at this year's Vidcon is estimated at 7,200 - this year, keynotes were held in an arena
  2. This is still very much a YouTube world - source of over 50% of all online video viewed
  3. Optimism and excitement is palpable
  4. Like any entertainment industry, dreams and expectations are huge
  5. There's a great deal of imitation and hero worship amongst many YouTubers
  6. The most successful YouTubers are Entreprenuers - not only creating product, but promoting, collaborating, strategizing and finding branding partnerships.
  7. This is not a geographically centered industry; YouTubers of all levels come from all corners Of the world
  8. There is still a struggle to define just what "this" is; online video is a tool of communication as well as entertainment - sometimes, simultaneously
  9. The vending area, with just a few exception, shows how little the "professional" production industry (I.e. rental and sales video equipment companies) value this world - no camera vendor, for example, was in attendance.
  10. This will rival comic-con within a few years - with one important exception. This is primarily a gathering of creators, other than simple fans ( though there are plent of those as well
Check out my Vlog on this subject: