Archive for January, 2013

Bad YouTuber

Posted in Hypothesis the 7th on January 31, 2013 by PoPS blog

The NexTV blog has an amazing new blogger whose posts will be appearing opposite mine. Dude’s a friggin’ Navy SEAL talking about his crazy, real-life experiences in Iraq and how he’s parlaying that experience into his screenplays. He’s hardcore, a good writer, and has low-res personal photos of himself with blown-up cars and ironically holding a service pistol to his head. Now, let me tell you about why I’m a bad YouTuber.

I just taught my first Video for the Internet and Mobile TV class at Columbia College this week. I think it went pretty well. However, in preparation for the class, while compiling my points about YouTube (pretty much the only relevant site for user created content seeking a community [that’s right Vimeo, you art house cinema of the internet]), I realized what a bad YouTuber I am. I know a lot of the tricks, but despite that, my channel’s main function is for an extremely intermittently released web series. My updates are only interesting if you’re interested in THAT web series or in the basic building blocks of creating an independent web series. That’s it. I rarely title videos with popular and immediately relevant searchable terms, I look at my YouTube analytics maybe once a year, to see the growth and loss figures of our subscribership for our New Year’s Eve update, I make very infrequent use of annotations, I never tell people to hit the “like” button or subscribe, and I’m even hit or miss these days in asking a question to ignite conversation in the comments section. I’m the worst kind of YouTuber, someone who’s more interested in pursuing my own narrowly focused passion projects than in growing my subscription and view numbers.

Maybe I’ll participate in the class projects and turn my updates into a potentially viable YouTube channel for the length of the semester. I’ll see if my audience would mind that.

Thanks for reading, guys. And check out this Navy SEAL’s first NexTV blog post, I’m pretty sure it’ll be a Kathryn Bigelow movie by the time the next Oscar season rolls around.


PoPS video update 151-More Writing & YouTube Changes

Posted in Hypothesis the 7th on January 27, 2013 by PoPS blog

To Work or to Network?

Posted in Hypothesis the 7th on January 24, 2013 by PoPS blog

Lately, I’ve been torn between working on the show and attending cool things involving the Chicago filmmaking and film appreciating communities. Actually, no. I’ve been torn by the idea of it. The practice of it starts tonight. Thursday nights are usually a great night for show work. No weekend plans have begun and, a lot of the time, Eliza has to work late, meaning I don’t even stop to make dinner or anything, all show work for a solid three hours at least. Tonight, however, I’m heading to a really cool movie theater for a screening of three shorts shot in Chicago. Filmmakers in attendance, a few people who have acted in our show are in the shorts, it just sounds like a cool opportunity to meet a few like-minded individuals and see what they’re up to. With making some dinner ahead of time, it looks like little, if any, work on the show will happen tonight.

Then in March there are two amazing events. March 9th is the 24-hour Sci-Fi Spectacular at the Portage Theater in Chicago. They’re screening a bunch of awesome genre pictures for 24 hours, showing shorts in between, one of which is going to be our PoPS in 77 seconds trailer:

That’s happening on a Saturday. Saturdays are the absolute ultimate PoPS work day. If something derails my Saturday work schedule, it’s like knocking out the legs on which my extracurricular work stands. Saturday is the bread on which my PoPS work is buttered. I just don’t think straight butter is very appetizing. Our cat does though. Solid aside.
I really want to go to the Sci-Fi Spectacular. For one thing, I want to hand out PoPS cards to anyone who’s interested. For another, they’re showing In The Mouth of Madness. I love that flick. So there goes a Saturday.

At the end of March is LAWebfest, so that’s a whole weekend I won’t be working, but maybe hanging out with other web series creators and watching a bunch of stuff counts as working on the show? Technically, one could say that all of these things have potential to benefit the show. I just have a hard time reconciling anything other than sitting at the keyboard or working on set as WORKING on the show.

So…if I’m not actually assembling the show, then I feel neglectful, but I need to interact with other creators and Chicago thespians in order to help the show advance. These are the things that you don’t think about when you’re like, “I’m going to start a web show!” The cold horrifying realities of producing independent content and having good wheelhouse-type conversations with enthusiastic people.

The ticking clock feeling in not actively working on the show is a YouTube thing. A buddy of mine just started his own gaming channel and was surprised to find people saying, ‘When’s the next video?” after being subscribed for three days without new content. Not to mention he laid out that he would upload a new review every two weeks, seeing as how that’s how long it takes to play a game through when you have a job and relationships with flesh and blood humans. Once you train yourself to not obsessively hover over your subscription and view numbers, life gets a lot easier.

Thanks for reading.


PoPS video update 150-The Chris’ening

Posted in Hypothesis the 7th on January 20, 2013 by PoPS blog

Internet Forever?

Posted in Non Ep Specific on January 17, 2013 by PoPS blog

I’ve been thinking about the internet as a gateway to the industry old-guard. Many of us internet video guys think about the content we’re putting on the web pretty much as a reel with an audience attached. It’s very clearly worked out before. Take, for example, Fede Alvarez. The week YouTube introduced their HQ [high quality] button, he uploaded this awesome short film:

It blows up, gets him in a room with Sam Raimi, and he just directed the new Evil Dead remake that comes out in a few months. Which, by the way, looks so brutal and amazing. He had the idea of pitching a version without Ash. That was a really smart take.

Then the news came down this week that the film adaptation of one of my favorite graphic novels ever Y: The Last Man found their director, this dude, Dan Trachtenberg, who made an outstanding fan film based on the Portal video game series called Portal: No Escape:

BOOM! Welcome to the bigs, man. Other than excellent craftsmanship, sweet effects, and selectively desaturated color palates, what do these shorts have in common? MILLIONS of views. So that’s a hard thing to just manufacture. And the internet is rife with Batman fan films that don’t launch their directors onto the backlots, so it’s not necessarily a formula for success. Trachtenberg has also directed a number of commercials for brands like Lexus and Coke and Nike already, so he must also be good in the room talking to execs, which is an altogether separate talent outside of directing.

Then there’s the other side. I just read on twitter that the creators of this popular web comic called Cyanide & Happiness have been brought in by three different cable networks to talk about turning their comic into a TV series. Each time they walked away because of ownership negotiations. Now they’re just going to Kickstarter their way into producing it themselves and put it online. Best selling author and internet personality, John Green’s response to this was essentially–Oh yeah. Every time we’ve talked to TV we walk away over ownership as well.

I find it hard to believe that a network or a studio is ever going to fund something that they don’t ultimately own, so there’s always going to be this ownership gulf between studios and creators used to the ownership and creative control of coming up on the internet.

I think many actual content creators are going to back away from the studio system for the properties that they develop themselves, but studios will still be able to cherry pick the internet for directors and writers for their adaptations and reboots. As for myself, I’ve always considered myself in the sell-out-in-a-heartbeat camp. More than anything, I’d still love to roll onto the backlot and work in the system. Sounds like the best thing ever to me. I know I’m over-romanticizing a system that creatives have been pulling their hair out over for generations, but I can’t get the sepia toned newsreel footage of glamorous people making MOVIES in studios out of my head.

Anyway, just stuff I’ve been thinking about. Thanks for reading.


PoPs video update 149-Writing Tutorial

Posted in Uncategorized on January 13, 2013 by PoPS blog

Going Back to PoPS and L.A.

Posted in Uncategorized on January 10, 2013 by PoPS blog

So, yeah. We’re going to the Los Angeles Web Series Festival the last weekend in March. I haven’t been back to LA for a couple years, since Vine Shorts Fest screened Twisted Thicket in Santa Monica. I always get excited to go back though. Things I’d like to do: Get to the Arclight (my current favorite movie theater, I’ve never been to an Alamo Drafthouse), get an In-N-Out Burger, drive down Ventura, drive Laurel Canyon Boulevard, hang out at Citywalk, head to Santa Monica beach…The unrealistic list goes on. We’re heading in for the weekend, so I’ll probably spend most of my time at the fest, checking out other kickass web series and taking to other creators. We might get away for a couple things, but we’ll have to narrow the focus a lot. Eliza wants to get to Mel’s Drive-in for her favorite burger in the world, the Sunset Burger, and I’m definitely going to make that happen. If we go to the one in the valley, it’s right on Ventura, so I could get my drive down Ventura in. Oooh! I’ve never been to the New Beverly though. Tarantino’s movie theater. That would really be something. Check it out: They’re a revival movie theater that programs double features. Two movies for 8 bucks. Sounds like heaven. I want to go to there. When the owner died, Tarantino bought it, continued under the management of the family that previously owned it, and he said, “”As long as I’m alive, and as long as I’m rich, the New Beverly will be there, showing double features in 35mm.” How much do I love that? Oh, LA. My relationship with you is so conflicted. Really looking forward to the festival too. There’s going to be so many web series folks there, I can’t wait to swap some stories. Eliza and I got our hotel reservation yesterday.

Then, I brought our computer in to this guy on a lunch break, he upgraded everything worth upgrading, and its like having a whole new machine. It moves so much faster, I’m ridiculously excited.

I’m finally cutting Ep7 of PoPS. I feel like I’ve been waiting for this for months. Wait. I HAVE been waiting for this for months. Things look great so far. I’ll have tales of progress for you next week. Along with a screenwriting tutorial video.

Take it easy.


PoPS video update 148-PoPS Resumes

Posted in Hypothesis the 7th on January 6, 2013 by PoPS blog

Why Video Editors Try Not To Make Declarative Statements

Posted in Non Ep Specific on January 3, 2013 by PoPS blog

Okay. I think it’s getting here for real. I’m about to finish all the non-PoPS video work (NPVW) I had outstanding. That means I FINALLY get to start editing episode 7. Finally. I thought I finished all the NPVW on New Year’s Eve, but the next day I found a tape that slipped through the cracks. Tonight…I finish. Or maybe, I mean, I hope I do.

Here are some examples of why video editors try not to make declarative statements. I was editing this video that I had shot on tape. 14 hour-long tapes, 13 of which I had imported piecemeal over a series of days so that the computer wasn’t just sitting there for 14 hours straight. Over the New Year’s four day weekend, I suddenly decided that it was going to be me or this project. It was time to battle to the end. I had about 16 hours of editing left to do and one tape left to import. So Sunday, I sat down and edited for 14 hours. Once I had finished all the footage I had previously imported, I was feeling pretty good about myself. I was dazed, my eyes were tired, and my head felt really heavy, but I thought–Final round. I’ve got this thing on the ropes.

I decided to import the last tape and call it a night. Then the rule of video editing happened. Whatever you thought your easy last step was going to be is going to fight you tooth and nail. A long editing project is like a wounded animal. It knows it’s cornered and if you’re going to finish it it wants you either wounded or run ragged to the point of exhaustion. Victory must be earned.

So how did the wounded NPVW enact it’s death throes? The external hard drive wouldn’t recognize the camera. Fine. It must be tired from a marathon day. I tried to eject it, but it won’t spin down and eject. I verified that all programs were closed, still nothing. So I shut it down cold and took the “you must eject your hard drive first” slap on the wrist from the computer. I swear, it always makes me feel like child protective services is sweeping in to let me know that my child might have brain damage from then on. Mixing metaphors now, but why would child protective services be interested in my wounded project-animal? Just roll with it, guys. I turned on the video camera, checked the connections, restarted the drive, and opened the project. The camera was recognized, the final tape loaded, ready to go. I started the capture process only to find over the course of many minutes–it was about 1 a.m. now–that the tape recorded glitchy. Luckily, it was only B-roll. Very important B-roll, but this project involved a lot of subject interview. If any of that had been missing we would have had to re-record. Instead, I just had to hover over the importing process. When the timecode gapped, I jumped in, stopped importing, and re-started importing after the gap. For awhile it would only import footage in alternating 6 second and 9 second increments. I thought I was going crazy. This method of import then caused the program to crash. I restarted the program, continued on, and eventually the glitches stopped and the last 12 minutes imported as one stretch.

The next day, I cut the remaining footage together and declared victory over the project. Something felt off though. I began exporting the video sequences as dvd files. It’s the equivalent of field dressing the now dead project-animal, the hunt complete, preparing for delivery.

The next morning, I realized that one hour of footage was missing. The project limps on. I found the tape, imported it, and got a half hour locked up last night. I should be done with the rest tonight. Still, I hesitate to count on that. I wonder why.

Thanks for reading, guys.