Archive for June, 2013
Man, oh man, I am SO excited. When making a web series, there are large sections of the process where the only thing driving you forward is sheer brute willpower. It starts to feel like masochism. Like you’re punishing yourself for no good reason. I think this mostly applies to creators who tackle post-production largely by themselves. The initial thrill of creation during writing is gone, the frenzied energy of forcing it into being during production is gone, the giddiness of finally seeing scenes come together in the rough edit is gone, the VFX part is when it really gets on top of you. For a few months, while you’re manipulating your footage a key frame or two at a time, you keep watching sections of your rough edit and they start to seem lifeless, overly long, and dull. That’s because you’ve spent too much time with it. Nothing about it is new at this point. At the script stage everything is new. During production you’re seeing how reality affects your vision for the story and that feels new. The first rough cut is the first time you see the whole thing assembled. While you’re laying in one little visual effect after another, you’re just fleshing out something you’ve been imagining for a long time, most of it is a compromise in some way or another, and none of them actually work without sound effects, so it’s a very disheartening process that feels stale and incomplete for months. It’s a ton of work and since your rough cut has started to feel stale and lifeless, you wonder why you’re wasting your time. If people haven’t quit before, this is when they quit or start half-assing things. Only the bullheaded determination to see this thing through gets you in that seat to complete something you no longer believe in. And it’s totally worth it. I finished the VFX in the show toward the end of last week and—as I said in the update—I’ve spent the last week laying in sound effects and music. Oh…my…heavens, does it ever make a difference? All the sounds and music have injected the episode with so much life again and I can’t believe how good it is. Soon I’ll begin the last slog, blindly groping my way through the technical wilderness that is color correction to come out with a finished episode. Finally. Then on to the next one.
All of this just reiterates the idea that people have no idea how much work goes into this thing. That’s an idea that was discussed in the middle of my friend Craig’s latest installment of his web series where he discusses the rock star lifestyle with people in successful bands. One of my favorite musicians, Mike Doughty—from Soul Coughing and his solo work—talks about the difference between people who achieve something and the people who sit around talking about doing something. Check it out; it’s a really fascinating examination of reality versus expectation for creative people. At about the four-minute mark they start talking about having to actually find your satisfaction in the work:
And sorry there’s such a long post this week, but another YouTuber I’ve never met made something awesome for us. Using clips from the show, PartyFish1000 made a title sequence for PoPS that feels like a late-80’s sitcom. It’s hilarious:
Thanks for reading.
All right, y’all. How do you want to present yourself as a filmmaker? We-the internet generation of creators—all need to stop lollygagging and brand ourselves. When there’s so much content around that indie films with name actors get released straight to VOD, how are you going to catch the industry’s attention? I have no idea. I’ve been carnival barking the values of gathering an audience without the help of investors or a studio marketing campaign behind you. Make what you want to make by hook or by crook, put it up online, and slowly build an audience that way. Forget trying to get industry attention and enjoy the fact that anyone out there wants to watch what you’re doing. If the number of people who watch you grows, excelsior. The view numbers you have to generate to grab industry attention FAR surpass the view numbers most industry created content pull in (TV anyway), and they have a detailed network of marketing avenues at their disposal. So, it’s a pretty tall order.
Having said all of that, I can’t help but want to constantly reach out to that industry that nurtured my love of visual storytelling. My latest attempt is through highlighting awards and achievements. That’s a measure of distinction, right? Here’s my short, little self-promo video.A quick look at the kind of stuff I do.
I’ve dug that defocus-title effect ever since I first saw it in the trailer for The Savages—the Phillip Seymour Hoffman one, not the Blake Lively one—back in ’08.
Thanks for reading, guys.
The biggest suggested change to our channel page in the comments of the last update was including a playlist of just tutorials. Over the years I’ve dropped some knowledge on my version of how to put a web series together and we’ve done more than a few on visual effects tutorials. However, since the updates are very vlog-style and I didn’t realize until tragically recently that you need to frontload the relevant information of the video, I went through every video in the tutorial playlist and added a clickable annotation at the beginning that takes you directly to the main topic, wherever in the video it may be. It works perfectly on the YouTube page, simply skipping ahead immediately. Unfortunately, with embedded videos, the annotation takes you to YouTube before skipping ahead, sometimes playing an ad before the jump, slowing the transition down. Here’s an example if you want to check it out, a great VFX tutorial by our VFX Coordinator Ryan that’s frontloaded with a bunch of stuff that someone looking for a tutorial wouldn’t want to sit through. Clicking on the annotation skips the first 52 seconds and takes you to the VFX end zone:
The programmable time annotations are a huge development. Absolutely awesome, says I.
The title of this post, however, refers to something I’ve been seeing a lot lately. A whole bunch of folks who started off as vloggers and really dedicated themselves to it are opening up the content they’re producing and moving into more traditionally-flavored videos. Vloggers like charlieissocoollike and nanalew are migrating into producing legit-looking narrative short films. Guys like the vlogbrothers now have side channels with bite-sized science and trivia shows. My buddy Craig has created a new kind of web series called The Good Stuff, mixing factual videos, fictional videos, and audience-submitted compilation videos all around a specific theme for one playlist. Several others are moving into documentary and a few of them are focusing their stories (and lenses, he he) on YouTube and popular YouTubers, examining the phenomenon in a feature length space.
I think the change is fueled by two things. One: A certain amount of funding is being offered to talented YouTubians should they want to develop more traditional media-oriented content. YouTube really wants to be the new TV, but people don’t actually use it like they use TV yet, so everything is getting jumbled up right now as they try to standardize content, simplify delivery, and attract established industry celebrities to offer exclusive stuff on the site. They want people on YouTube longer and vlogging is a very quick dine-and-dash medium of entertainment, so they’re trying to encourage people to build up series and linear, longer form storytelling. I want to point out that this is largely speculation on my part, but it seems like what I’ve been seeing.
Two: Most people who are big on YouTube now were mainly influenced by traditional media. They love movies. They love TV. They started vlogging because it was fun and they’re talented, but after a while they’re going to be drawn to the kind of entertainment that always called to them in the first place. I just think it’s kind of cool that the first wave all seems to be transitioning at once right now. The next wave of vloggers may just want to stay vloggers since they were weaned on vlogging as a standalone medium of entertainment, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see everybody from the first wave doing films and series.
Another funny aspect to this is that people like me, who only started YouTube as a way to present and promote our more traditionally formatted content picked up vlogging as a way to endear ourselves to the medium. Look at Felicia Day and the Guild. That was straight-up series until they went viral with “Do You Want to Date my Avatar?” Now she’s the presiding queen of Geek and Sundry, a YouTube-based network that specializes in internet-sized entertainments and vlogs, one little branch of which is The Guild.
I mean wow, right?
Thanks for reading.