Archive for June, 2013

PoPS video update 162-Working All Day

Posted in Hypothesis the 7th on June 30, 2013 by PoPS blog

The Drive

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

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.


PoPS video update 161-The Coolest Sound Design

Posted in Hypothesis the 7th on June 23, 2013 by PoPS blog

Selling yourself

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

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.


PoPS video update 160-Double Feature

Posted in Hypothesis the 7th on June 16, 2013 by PoPS blog

The Vlogger Evolution

Posted in Uncategorized on June 13, 2013 by PoPS blog

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.


PoPS update 159-Knocking out the VFX

Posted in Hypothesis the 7th on June 9, 2013 by PoPS blog

YouTube Changes (One Channel Design)

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

So, I’m sure I’ve talked about this before, but every time YouTube changes their look or functionality, the entire world ends. People go CRAZY, like it’s the worst thing that’s ever happened. For the last few months YouTube has been warning people that a new change has been coming to the look of channel pages. They rolled it out early to try and get people used to the idea, they showed everyone what it was going to look like, and they gave people the option to opt in whenever they wanted. For months. Now the forced change is upon us. The pop up window has been showing up for 2 weeks now. 14 DAYS UNTIL ALL EXISTING CHANNELS ARE CHANGED TO THE YOUTUBE ‘ONE CHANNEL’ DESIGN. And then when you’d log in every day, the countdown would continue. The day of forced change was yesterday. Here we are. I’m usually on the side of the naysayers. Usually, I oppose every change that YouTube makes. I like what I know, and I know what I like, and what I know is what I like. Change is unnerving. I’m in my thirties now, for cryin’ out loud.  This time, though… I like it.

I think it’s a lot easier for non-YouTube’ians to figure out how to watch stuff. They created a customizable banner system that appears nicely whether being viewed on the computer, mobile devices, or TVs, and everything is accessibly laid out. This link gives you a look at our channel design now and the sweet banner our friends at The Collective made for us. I’ll be talking about The Collective in next week’s video update.

New Channel Layout:

Sure, it looks a lot more blocky and utilitarian, but it’s going to eliminate so much confusion. I can’t tell you how many people have asked me how to find my content once they’ve tried to maneuver around my channel page. As someone who spends a lot of time on YouTube, I thought I’d laid it out in a fairly user-friendly manner. But folks who don’t know YouTube don’t know about channel pages and finding playlists. They’d end up watching things way out of order and not knowing how to find the order of things at all. Not their fault. That’s why, a couple years ago, I made the intro video for the main page that ended with an episode selection screen. It was an introduction and selectable episode menu–like a DVD menu–all in one. One of the new changes YouTube recommends is an introduction video that introduces your channel to non-subscribers. Already set. The playlists are listed very clearly underneath; I think it’s pretty impossible to misunderstand. A lot of folks are railing against YouTube corporate for making us get rid of our custom wallpapers and forcing us to use this new layout. When I first heard about it, I cried foul, saying it was all about better integrating YouTube into Google+, and, since I thought Google+ was useless, I was against it. I don’t think it’s about that anymore. I think it’s about accessibility. Now, more than ever, it draws people to how you want your content to be viewed and allows channels to stand on the strength of the content they’re making. With a unified look, people will know how to move around better and channels with good stuff are easier to maneuver. I dig it.

Here’s a video of a YouTuber called AntVenom giving a tour of the benefits of the new layout. It’s a little long, but gives a good overview:

The only downside is that once a person subscribes, the intro video is no longer the default featured video at the top of the page. Right now it defaults to the latest upload, which isn’t usually what I want highlighted. I’d prefer selecting what video to feature at the top for your subscribers as well. But other than that, I think it’s a great change.

Thanks for reading.


PoPS update 158-Getting out of town

Posted in Hypothesis the 7th on June 2, 2013 by PoPS blog