Wednesday, 29 August 2012

YouTube News

YouTube has recently hidden tags from regular users and as of today from API users as well. This seems to be a move to help eliminate the "Reply Girls" and their ilk. YT's problem is not necessarily with the provocative thumbnails (HotForWords anyone?) but with the "content" these "Reply Girls" are creating. Their MO seems to be make a video response to a popular YTer, copy their tags so that their reply comes up in search and not add any value to any converstion while potentially diverting or distracting views from the original, valuable content. Tags will still remain an important part of YTs search algorithm but the exact content of the tags will only be known to the creators and YT/Google.

Along this vein, YT is also S...L...O...W...L...Y rolling out customizable thumbnails to all monetized partners. Both of these changes are necessary for improving YT's push for better, easier to identify, high-quality content. Keeping tags mostly private and allowing for customizable thumbnails should add to the quality of YouTube overall. Everyone is pumped about the thumbnails, as they well should be. Thumbnails are at least as important as titles. Without the customizable thumbnails we have very little control over what still of our video gets seen in the search results or in the suggested videos column.

With all this, I have been wondering if YT is going to continue to improve "find-ability" since one of the major problems we encounter is with YT's search algorithms. In theory we should see most of our views coming from YT search. Our types are not ones that people randomly come across when they are looking for entertainment. We offer specialized instructions for specific parts. Viewers should not have to take the long way (search, find one video that kind of looks like what they need, see our video in "Suggested Videos" and click on the thumbnail) to find us. They should be able to search in YouTube for the problem and directly find our video. Right now, YT is smart enough to put our channel there for advertising purposes, but none of our videos are near the top of the results.

Friday, 24 August 2012

My Life as a Producer

Being a producer is a lot like being an executive assistant, or an HR person. There is far more running around, cleaning up other people’s messes and organizing unruly employees than you’d think. I organize and manage my own time, my videographer’s time and my talent’s time. I liaise between marketing, public relations/the press, and the execs. I do the (sometimes literally) dirty work or at the very least ensure that the dirty work is done. I write, I edit, I plan, and I worry. If something goes wrong, it is my fault.

There is actually very little creative work done for instructional videos. I am trying to launch some new ideas however I have to wait for the marketing team to develop some strategies and adapt their own ideas. I create many things but the work is as much technical and organizational as it is creative. I’m mostly stuck expressing myself though crochet.

I frequently dream of producing something a little more me, an extension of my interests and life but I worry that there are already so many other vlogs and video content that I will get lost in the fray and never make an impact.

So I will stick to our repair videos, occasionally making some fun or informational content and I will continue to crochet. Check out this guy!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

And this is why we will (probably) never be Internet Famous

I read ReelSEO almost every day to keep abreast of the goings on in the world of online video. I've taken courses, I occasionally comment (not often, I hate commenting with the Facebook login thing) and I subscribe to their YT Channel.

Today I read their article called Schmooze Optimization: What it is and Why it Expands Views, Engagement, and Earnings on YouTube and I was reminded of why I will probably never be internet famous. Excellent article if you get past the name-dropping. It puts a different spin on the "Collaborate, collaborate" mantra I hear so often in the online video world.

It was never really my dream to be internet famous, but over the last few years I have dreamed of rubbing elbows with the execs at Maker Studios, Revision3 or plain old DeFranco Inc. I would not give my first born but maybe her favorite toy to work on a project with any of the above.

Unfortunately I live in a bad place to integrate myself into the network of online video schmoozers. We have a surprising number of Hollywood movies and the occasional TV series shot in our backyard (Hobo with a Shotgun, Call me Fitz, Picnic Face are all local productions) but the online video community is miniscule. I went to a Women in Film and Television conference this year and I was the ONLY ONE doing online video exclusively.

What I'm trying to say is, I want to schmooze. I want to rub elbows and talk shop and be involved in the community I love but location and a reluctance to uproot my family prevent that.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Husbands (not mine, the series)

Just watched the entire first season of "Husbands" after coming across the second season premiere. I'm in love. I'm not usually a huge fan of sitcoms but husbands has a unique combination of new (gay marriage) and old (how newlyweds navigate marriage). It's written by a BtVS writer and true to pedigree, it's witty, sharp and totally lovable. Joss Whedon guest-stars and has some awesome dialogue ("Voice like a tulip, eyelashes I can fucking hear through the phone").

The big change for season 2 is the length. Season 1 was 11 2 minute-long episodes but as online video has grown in popularity longer format videos have become more popular. I prefer the longer format for sitcoms. I have a tendency to watch all episodes in a marathon run when they are shorter format. Season 2 is 3 9 minute long episodes.

The best part about online is the freedom. They can do a series about a gay married ballplayer with explicit dialogue and not worry about censors. So far there has not been any explicit action and I don't expect there to be. This has a genuine sitcom feel and looks like it would be appropriate on an open-minded network.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

One More Re-Shoot

I finally heard back from the marketing department regarding the "with Kids" video and they requested I re-shoot 2 lines... 2. That's it.

I am in an extremely fortunate position. Re-shoots are not a big deal because we shoot weekly on the same set anyway so it won't cost us much in terms of time or money. Other productions don't have that luxury.

Hopefully I can get this last piece of the puzzle shot tomorrow and that will be the end of it.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Scripts and Being Sick

I am currently trying to write some scripts for non-repair videos. This is a side project for stuff that may never be done but I need to get them written. I have a vision on a small (5 episode) series on appliance cleaning and cleaning with homemade cleaning products.I've got a script on homemade laundry detergent and I'm working on one for cleaning with baking soda.

The big problem is that I have a cold. I am struggling with the dopey-headed, drug-induced stupidity that comes with it. I have the attention span of a 2 year-old and the energy of an overfed house cat. I'm even having trouble focusing on this, and this isn't "officially" work.

I have the scripts in my head, I'm just not in a state to get them out as painlessly as usual. I keep watching and reading things about the miraculous powers of baking soda and I am completely uninspired.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

The Worlds of Viral Video from PBS

Where is online video going? Where is the line between advertiser and producer? I keep thinking we are using an old model in new ways when we talk about producers and advertisers becoming one. When television was in its infancy individual shows were sponsored by individual advertisers, with the products worked into the content in whatever way possible. The videos I make are very similar. We tread a line between product demonstration and general knowledge instruction. This gives us the unique opportunity to have consent content development and the materials for constant output. Granted, sometimes we will shoot 3 (or more) variations or the same repair but we are starting to move beyond just the part-specific instructional videos.

As we develop more creative content I am faced with the reality that although we are among the pioneers of online video in our specific branch of retail we are far from the pioneers of online how-to videos. We will have to find our voice in the chorus and work on what makes us stand out. We have aspirations and grand designs but we need to develop some very specific skills before we can get too much further down the creative content road. We are just getting the hang of written content and now I am pushing for video content.

So, I'm signing up for every course I can with the local film co-ops and I'm writing as many scripts as I can even if I never plan on using them.