A new video called "NASA - The Frontier Is Everywhere" is making the viral rounds, and it's absolutely fantastic. Combining imagery of space, nature, and humanity, the piece makes use of a famous bit of narration by Carl Sagan reading from his book, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space. It is inspiring, beautiful, and a will ultimately serve as a great piece of viral marketing for NASA.
Only... NASA didn't make it. It was actually created by a YouTube user "Damewse" who "got fed up with NASA" and decided to create something on their behalf. From the description on the YouTube page:
"NASA is the most fascinating, adventurous, epic institution ever devised by human beings, and their media sucks. Seriously. None of their brilliant scientists appear to know how to connect with the social media crowd, which is now more important than ever. In fact, NASA is an institution whose funding directly depends on how the public views them."
To help show NASA the opportunities they're missing, Damewse took footage from a host of sources--including BBC's Planet Earth--and edited it all together with a nice little speech from Sagan. If you haven't seen it, it's worth stopping what you're doing for the next three minutes:
Quite simply, that is one of the most compelling videos I've seen in a long time. The video was inspired by 2-year-old piece from Michael Marantz, which you can see here:
I love that Damewse goes out of his way to cite and credit every source for his footage, audio, and inspiration--nowhere near enough people do this when repurposing someone else's work. And I love the plucky attitude of someone that essentially says, "Hey, you suck at marketing, why don't you let me help you." In fact, I'd be surprised if Damewse doesn't get a job out of this thing. Check out another sample NASA video he made, again by using preexisting footage and audio:
Geez, that's almost even better. Considering how much money NASA has at their disposal, which even during a recession is an awful lot, it's surprising they don't do more to promote their own brand. Perhaps these videos will help get that conversation started. If the White House and our congressmen and women can have staff members devoted to social media, why not NASA?
I'm impressed that this is a wonderful piece of art--and a viral smash hit, at nearly 400,000 views in three days--and 100% of it was preexisting material. I've said this for years, but you don't have to be a great videographer or actor to make viral videos that work. Heck, you don't even need a camera.
I think I'm going to have to keep my eye on Damewse's YouTube channel for the immediate future.