Evolved Criticism

The last part of PoPS episode 6 just went up. It’s the part that has the most time consuming VFX shots in it. I keep saying that the last 2 minutes took us 4 months and I’m pretty sure I’m not exaggerating. But it’s not my intention to rehash my time-consuming VFX diatribe that I spend most of my post production blogs rambling about in a roto’-fueled daze. I’m here today to talk about the comments section.

The comments on today’s upload followed the usual stages:

Stage 1: The early commenters, pointing out that they’re the first to comment on the video, the fact that they’re part of the under-300 club (YouTube has a thing where the view counter stops at a number between 301 and 307 views on a day when a much-watched video goes up and just stays there for between 8 to 12 hours, catching up after that), and saying generic niceties to prove that they were one of the first commenters without actually saying it, but commenting well before they’ve had a chance to watch the video.

Stage 2: The hardcore fans. The hardcore fans show up to check it out and wait to comment on the actual content. Their comments are really generous, supportive, and about the thing that they just watched. If they can’t think of anything else they quote their favorite line in the segment and leave it at that. If they have criticism it is always constructive, balancing the things they liked with the things they didn’t, giving real weight to their criticism and making me actually consider if I can defend my directorial or authorial position. Needless to say, these are my favorites.

Stage 3: The cold-blooded critics. These guys are the ones that come out to just say what they hate about what you do. There are very few of these guys in our comments section. I’m very grateful for that, considering what some of the messageboards I see look like. Mostly they’re folks who show up when Craig mentions us in his videos or we get an outside mention from another website. They drop in for an episode part, criticize things without any sense of context, and take off. It’s a hit and run thing and it’s an internet staple. Some of these folks have watched all of the show though, I see their usernames pop up on several segments and even a few updates. They tell you what’s wrong with each episode part as they go on and it’s interesting to see how this has evolved.

In the beginning of the show we were a very easy target. The footage and effects looked awful, the actors were just starting to establish their characters and get their feet under them, and the tone of the first episode is a little more slap-sticky than I’d like. The stage 3 guys had it easy: “This show sucks.” “The acting sucks.” “This looks like s***.” You get the idea. But as the stage 3 guys started getting under my skin today, I had a really awesome realization. When your cold-blooded commenter resorts to pointing out that a bad guy shot an unrealistic amount of rounds from the clip of a mac 10, you’re doing pretty good. When all they come up with is that the ricochet behaviors of bullets from different guns were “pretty convenient,” than your show has evolved to a pretty sweet spot. And when they start debating whether the characters in the show would behave a certain way, you’re doing friggin’ awesome. If the audience thinks they know the characters better than the cast and the actors, than you’ve pretty much brought them to life. The stage 3 folks made me feel pretty good today.

Oh, yeah. Stage 4 is the last stage. It’s pretty much a grab bag of people discovering you after the initial launch, so it’s a pretty wide selection of points of view. In old industry terms, stages 1 through 3 are like opening weekend feedback, stage 4 is like when your thing has made it to video stores. We’ve gotten to a place where even fresh eyes without context are getting fairly complimentary, so I take that as a good sign.

Thanks for reading.


One Response to “Evolved Criticism”

  1. I’m totally a hardcore fan! I’ve been with PoPS since Craig told his beardlovers about it and it’s great. I want to be a filmmaker too, and this is just inspiring. Don’t give into what the stage 3 people say; after all, like you said, when people start thinking they know the characters better than you do, you’re doing great, and trust me, you’re doing great. Good job and I cannot WAIT for ep. 7!

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