News: David Brooks has a fun look at “The Alpha Geeks” in an op-ed in the NYT. Here’s a cool passage:
“The jock can shine on the football field, but the geeks can display their supple sensibilities and well-modulated emotions on their Facebook pages, blogs, text messages and Twitter feeds. Now there are armies of designers, researchers, media mavens and other cultural producers with a talent for whimsical self-mockery, arcane social references and late-night analysis.
“They can visit eclectic sites like Kottke.org and Cool Hunting, experiment with fonts, admire Stewart Brand and Lawrence Lessig and join social-networking communities with ironical names. They’ve created a new definition of what it means to be cool, a definition that leaves out the talents of the jocks, the M.B.A.-types and the less educated.”
Jessica Alba can keep her eyes open for a long time.
LisaNova is a hilarious comedian discovered on YouTube (also now on MadTv). This week she posted this LOL video spoofing how YouTube has become saturated with videos with teasers or still shots of women’s cleavage. Often the most popular videos each day have still shots of women’s breasts. (See here and here) It’s hard for other YouTubers to get their videos watched if the women’s cleavage shots get the most viewed.
So here comes LisaNova to the rescue, offering her services — and even clips of her breasts — for other YouTubers to use in their own videos. The video is a riot, but it’s even crazier that LisaNova is serious about offering free clips of her breasts for others to download and incorporate into their own user-generated videos. Her cleavage clips can be downloaded from her site.
This new actress looks a lot like Bree, played by Jessica Rose, the 1st lonelygirl.
Contest news: Sports Illustrated and Gilette have teamd up for a mashup video contest. Sports Illustrated provides a bunch of high def video clips of its swimsuit models, plus a very slick, but simple video editing software based on easy drag/drop Ajax commands. Go here to start mashing. Once you finish your mashup video, which you can synch with basic background music, you can then embed the video in your blog, FaceBook page, or send the link to others. The contest site is here.
Analysis: I’m finishing an article on user-generated content and mashups (that I hope to share soon). I’ve been canvassing some of these mashup contests, and the video tools for the SI contest are quite nice and user-friendly. The shell looks like your basic iMovie or Moviemaker page, but with fewer editing options. The video quality is so high, though, and the models so beautiful, that anyone will be able to put together a cool video.
I think we have only seen the tip of the iceberg with mainstream media attempting to cultivate user-generated content. The lines between media content and user-generated content will get blurred.
Sports Illustrated also has a YouTube channel with its own swimsuit videos for YouTube.
Here’s the original video below:
I haven’t covered Smosh — Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla — that much because I think everyone already knows them. They are the No.1 most subscribed channel on YouTube, and every video they produce gets over at least 1 million views. They consistently produce funny, off-the-wall videos. (Yet mysteriously they are not a part of YouTube’s partner program, it appears.) They are the best channel on YouTube. The competition is not even close.
First, there was Obama girl. Then, Hillary guy. Now, there’s a Huckabee girl, and also a Hillary girl, although both are more tongue-in-cheek.
News: The General Counsel of NBC Universal Rick Cotton has stated that NBC supports the ability of users to reuse and remix copyrighted shows. As I reported last week, NBC already allows free download copies of many of its shows on its website. When you couple this free dissemination of NBC copies online with Rick Cotton’s statements, it appears that NBC has bought into the mashup/remix culture of user-generated content that relies upon preexisting copyrighted works.
Here are some of Cotton’s statements:
“They can choose to download commercial free episodes of our TV shows or watch free, streaming, ad-supported programs on our websites. We’ve offered fans material from “Battlestar Galactica” and “The Office” to create mashups. And we expect to expand those offerings both on our websites and on Hulu.com.”
“But, looking forward, one of the exciting characteristics of the new, digital world is that technology will allow us greater flexibility to respond to consumer desires.”
“It bears repeating that short-form mashups, parodies and the like are NOT the primary focus of content owners’ anti-piracy activities. Let’s be clear that sympathy for parodies and “re-interpretations” should not be used as a justification for inaction in addressing aggressively the wholesale trafficking in complete, unchanged copies of movies and TV programs. Having said that, most major content owners today want to see fans fully engage with their favorite content and are working hard to provide legitimate ways to do that.”
Analysis: NBC Universal should be applauded for its stance on remixes and mashups, as well as for allowing free downloading of many of its shows online. If I take Cotton’s statements at face value, he basically gives his blessing to noncommercial remixes of NBC’s copyrighted shows. I would not have expected this kind of position from a Hollywood studio. But I hope NBC doesn’t scale back the free stuff and start selling all of its shows on iTunes (for more, see Mashable).
Davedays has taken the citizen political video to another level. Take that, Obama girl.
What do you get when you combine the Matrix with Rocky with a lot of cleavage? Is this the next generation of campaign video?
I’ve watched hundreds, if not thousands, of YouTube videos this year. Here are my selections for The Best YouTube Videos of 2007.
1. Best YouTube Video of the Year: Esmee
Esmee Denters is an 18-year-old Dutch girl who started singing on YouTube from her bedroom. Soon, she started drawing hundreds of thousands of views. Then, in the millions. Eventually, a guy named Justin Timberlake signed her to a record deal. This video was shot right before the announcement of the deal. It represents the best that “user-generated content” has to offer. Wait for the video’s ending. Esmee’s first album will be released in 2008.
2. First Runner-Up: Miss South Carolina
It pains me to select a TV clip as the First Runner-Up, but this video of Miss South Carolina Lauren Caitlin Upton speaks for itself. She’s beautiful and should be a spokesperson for GPS.
3. Second Runner-Up: James Kotecki interviews Ron Paul from his dorm
From his dorm room, James Kotecki interviewed Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul. Kotecki also interviewed Mike Huckabee, Mike Gravel, John Edwards, and Dennis Kucinich. The citizen-journalist might have more power today than ever before.
4. Third Runner-Up: Lazydork raps YouTube, so does Renetto
Irreverance is king on YouTube.
5. Fourth Runner-Up: Obama girl
Cleavage is queen on YouTube.
6. Fifth Runner-Up: Ron Paul
He’s the most watched candidate on YouTube. Still trying to figure out why.
7. Sixth Runner-Up: Hillary 1984
Why citizens will be a factor in the presidential election in 2008.
[I reserve 24 hours to revise my picks as I think of other videos I've watched. Drop me an email if you like to nominate another video. utubeblog [at] gmail [dot] com
Every now and then I stumble upon a YouTube video from someone creative whose videos have somehow escaped my attention. Here’s one from this college student named Charles Trippy, who’s No. 7 all time, most subscribed comedian on YouTube.
The video is of Charles’s recent proposal to his longtime girlfriend Ally. She said yes. Awesome.
UPDATE: Some commenter wrote in and found the footage of the proposal in this video at seconds 59 through 1:07:
News: Yahoo! announced a major deal with Sony BMG that allows users to synch music from Sony BMG artists into user-generated videos uploaded onto Yahoo! (More)
Analysis: This is an interesting development. I can’t wait to see how many Sony BMG artists’ titles are allowed on Yahoo! As I’ve been saying for some time now, the synching of background music into user-generated videos is one of the biggest copyright issues on the table. No one has come up with an adequate platform to satisfy consumer demand.
News: USA Today has an article discussing the development of “webisodes,” short videos online that are comparable to TV shows. Lonelygirl15, for instance, turned out to be the most famous, launching on YouTube last year, but her main character has since died off.
One of the new series online is Quarterlife, produced by TV directors Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick. You can find the show on MySpace. A related USA Today article discusses not only Quarterlife, but also Chad Vader (popular on YouTube) and Roommates (popular on MySpaceTV).
Analysis: The dramatic series is difficult to do in 4 minute or less, but I think Lonelygirl15 proved that it can be done effectively on the Internet. As more Hollywood directors (along with amateurs) play around with short videos, I’m sure we will see another Internet sensation like Lonelygirl 15. You really need to start out with a captivating actor, though. And to sustain the sensation, a good story — something that I’m not sure that Lonelygirl15 could deliver.
That1guywhosings, a YouTuber, made this video of Ingrid Michaelson’s “Breakable.” He got the images from Getty and showed the video to Ingrid, who said she liked it.
This synchronization of photos to the music is simply outstanding. And I can’t get enough of this song.
News: YouTube has teamed up with HP and Fox Searchlight to host a 2-7 minute video contest. To enter, you need to include 3 elements: (1) someone in a situation above her/his maturity level, (3) “shenanigans” used in the dialogue, and (3) one character must pass a photograph to another character. (More)
Analysis: If I had time, I might even consider doing this. My digital short probably would be centered around a law school student.
News: Little Loca, aka Stevie Ryan (who in real life is white, even though she plays a Latina on YouTube), gets her own TV show tonight on the CW network, 7:30 p.m. It’s called “Online Nation” and it will be all about amateur user-generated videos. The LA Times has a feature on Stevie in its Sunday edition. Below is a promo:
Analysis: This is ironic. Just as ABC, NBC, and CBS announced this week free videos of their shows online, online amateur videos will be migrating to TV, albeit on the unknown CW network. One day soon, the Internet + TV will be the same thing–or at least delivered on the same device.
News: By now, you’ve probably heard about the brouhaha about YouTube singer Marie Digby who posed as an unknown amateur singer on YouTube, even though she has been an unknown professional singer signed by Disney back in 2005 and had Disney handlers helping her all along the way on YouTube. The Wall Street Journal broke the story on its front page this week, and I’ve summarized the account here.
Analysis: Several readers have written in with thoughtful comments explaining why the “deception” involved with Marie Digby’s marketing on YouTube was wrong. I’ve also read other comments on YouTube and the Internet that are quite critical of Digby and Disney.
OK, I guess I agree with some of these sentiments. If YouTube sensation Esmee Denters actually had been a professional (signed) singer from the start on YouTube (even though she appeared to be an amateur posting from her bedroom), I would feel duped. I haven’t followed Marie Digby or her videos enough to know how strongly she gave the appearance of being just an unknown amateur singer. But if the WSJ article is accurate, then maybe Digby did cross the line. (I’ll reserve judgment on how far until I see more of the evidence.)
On the other hand, I don’t necessarily see it a bad thing for music labels like Hollywood Records to try to promote unknown singers on YouTube. Hollywood Records and Ms. Digby will have to face whatever backlash that comes from their PR stunt on YouTube, so maybe the WSJ did us all a service. (Personally, I’d buy Ms. Digby’s music if I really liked it when it comes out.) I do still question whether the whole story deserved front page coverage.
Kevjumba is the No.1 Comedian on YouTube, with the most subscribers of any comedian on YouTube and 12th most, all-time. You can watch his videos here. I like Kevjumba’s attitude and delivery. He’s pretty hilarious
News: I’ve read over some of the negative comments posted by people on YouTube related to YouTube’s InVideo ad system. Under the new system, YouTube will deploy ads that will pop-up at the bottom 20% of the video screen, lasting for several seconds. If you click on the pop-up ad, you will be redirected to an internal ad video. If you do nothing, the ad disappears. Meanwhile, the original video you played will continue playing. One thing to note: the new InVideo ads will only be used on select “Partner” videos — the corporations and select users YouTube has deals with.
Some of the comments sent in to YouTube are filled with expletives, vitriol, and venom. Here’s one thoughtful comment I read, though: “‘OK by me. Someone has to pay the bills. Between users fees and advertising I prefer the latter.’ Yeah, but why does someone have to pay the bills with intrusive advertising now when they didn’t before? If YouTube originally had ads IN or BEFORE the videos, it would be just as unpopular as all the other video sites, and it would have never grown the massive user base that greedy baby boomer investors and marketers now salivate over. There is a reason young people latched on to YouTube…it offered something other than the “60% content and 40% marketing” formula that insults us from the television screen. Make no mistake- too much advertising and the real YouTube will soon be remembered as a historical curiousity; a good idea and an interesting phenomenon spoiled by greed. Don’t forget that we are here because we are tired of commercials. If YouTube doesn’t understand that or can’t support thier business in that way, then it’s time you guys found a new line of work.”
Analysis: The comment has some force to it. YouTube appealed to people because the videos were ad-free, and not filled with pre-roll ads so common on commercial sites. I believe the commenter’s exactly right that people were/are tired of seeing commercials everywhere they go (except during the Super Bowl).
But I’m not sure YouTube’s InVideo ads will ruin the original ethos of YouTube. As I noted above, the majority of videos won’t have these ads. One reason is for fear of copyright liability: YouTube knows that inserting commercial ads into user videos that constitute copyright infringement will expose YouTube to a claim for vicarious liability, outside the DMCA safe harbor. In other words, there are a bunch of unauthorized videos on YouTube posted by users. YouTube can’t risk profiting from them with commercial ads because that would defeat any DMCA safe harbor defense for YouTube.
News: NYT has an article discussing this mashup video made by Guyz Nite about the Die Hard movies. Guyz Nite is a “comic rock” group that tries to summarize the plots of the entire Die Hard movies in 4 minutes flat. When FOX movie studio first saw the video, they sent YouTube a DMCA notice to have it taken down. Well, afterwards, FOX had second thoughts and realized that the fan video was a great way to promote the upcoming Die Hard 4. So FOX asked Guyz Nite to put the video back up, even paying the group and sending them some preview clips of Die Hard 4 to use.
Analysis: FOX made a wise decision. User-generated content can often be great, free marketing.
News: Last week, I reported that YouTube removed Smosh‘s mega-popular Pokemon video after receiving a DMCA notice (for copyright infringement), notwithstanding a strong parody fair use claim for Smosh. Under the DMCA, a website has a greater chance of staying within the safe harbor (and avoiding copyright liability) if it expeditiously removes content identified by a copyright holder in a DMCA notice.
One of the fallouts of the take down is that Smosh lost over 24 million views to its tally, placing it back closer to lonelygirl15 — 56 million to 52 million. If you are not aware, Smosh and lonelygirl15 are No. 1 and No. 2 in total views on YouTube for amateur productions.
For the finalists, go here.