Every Friday I like to share some of the week's biggest viral video hits with you. I also like deconstructing them, trying to put our finger on what it was about each video that hit the viewing public just right enough to make them share it like mad. Perhaps we can learn and hone our own video endeavors by breaking down the successes that came before us. Lots of great stuff this week, as usual, so let's get to the videos:
The Amateur Filmmaker
Freddiew has uploaded several of his homemade film creations to YouTube, and many of them have gotten plenty of attention—such as the "Future Rock Band" video we featured in this column just one week ago.
In his newest clip, he demonstrates a classic (and unrealistic) video game combat maneuver known as the Rocket Jump. Check it out:
Freddiew clearly has a sense of humor—his YouTube Channel banner proudly brags, "Freddiew's channel voted 43,348th coolest website on the Internet.” He infuses his videos with comedy, which keeps his fans coming back. There may be no greater path to long-term viral success than consistently delivering laughs.
But what really helps Freddie stand out from the crowd is that he's actually got quite a bit of special effects talent as well. It's one thing to be sitting around playing video games with your buddies and say, "Dude, we should totally make a movie about a real life rocket jump.” It's another thing entirely to actually do it… and do it well. Is it done to Hollywood's high CG standards? Of course not. But it's not supposed to be either. This is just a talented kid being funny while having fun.
Combining humor and talent (like special effects) is always a winning combination. I'm always happy to send some love toward the amateur filmmakers that repeatedly spit out winning content. It's refreshing to see that brands haven't cornered the market on production values or creativity.
Sometimes a viral hit can happen just from the collaboration between two video creators. In this case, we have three known entertainers performing together.
Ben Folds is a singer and songwriter with a fairly huge fan base… you've probably heard of him. Nick Hornby is an author, and even if the name isn't familiar, you've heard of his works. His books have been turned into film hits like About A Boy, High Fidelity, and Fever Pitch.
If you're like me, you might be a bit surprised to learn that Hornby and Folds have collaborated on a new album together. Folds wrote the music, and Hornby wrote all the lyrics. Now… that alone might warrant discussion and even a little excitement.
But our second example video also brings a third artist into the mix, the YouTube musical act known as PomplamooseMusic. If you're not familiar with them, and you love good music, you should check out their YouTube Channel—I easily lost an hour of my day watching their videos and am particularly partial to their cover of Beyonce's Single Ladies. PomplamooseMusic has risen to Internet fame through the creation of what they call VideoSongs—a fusion of video and music that shows you clips of every sound you hear and also eschews all lip-syncing and overdubbing. The results are definitely unique.
And Ben Folds is apparently a fan, so he got together with the band and Hornby to record a video of the new album's first single. The results are… pretty great:
There is so much talent in this video that its viral rise was practically inevitable. Folds and Hornby have already earned large fan bases, and are considered among the best at what they do. Toss in the creativity of the VideoSong format pioneered by Pomplamoose, and you have something clever, catchy, memorable, and fun. It's entertaining to see the big stars and the established indies playing so well together on the viral playground.
Sometimes you capture something on film that's just… a first—like the "Caught On Film" examples from last week's Round Up. And anytime you can show viral audiences something they haven't seen before, you're on the right track for success.
A subgenre of this kind of viral video is the glitch video. From time to time, the "never before seen" event you film is actually a glitch or an accident—such as the Red Dead Redemption video game glitches that went viral back in May.
Our final example today shows a glitch I think we can safely say hasn't been seen before. The video is called "Curious Stroboscopic Effect," which is as accurate a title as I've ever seen. Take a look:
The video's description says simply, "That's what happens when you record the plane's blades with a Nokia N95.” The strange phenomenon seen in the clip is simply the result of the way that particular video recorder processes images—something called "aliasing.” But there's no doubt it's a freaky and mesmerizing thing to behold, as the nearly 400,000 views can attest.
Maybe I'm alone here, but my personal policy is to never delete something straight from the camera—I always want to upload it to the computer first to see if there's any hidden potential that I maybe didn't notice on the small playback screen of my camera.
The lesson here is this: Sometimes you're not every trying to make a viral video when you unexpectedly capture something bizarre on film. You can go viral with pure accidents. Unless digital storage is incredibly hard to come by for you, it's a good idea to save everything you film until you've had a chance to analyze it in full.
If we had more time and space, I would also have highlighted:
- This excellent Microsoft commercial starring recent viral celebrity, the Double Rainbow Guy. Now that's how you leverage a meme for your own branding.
- This clip of Roger Federer doing something in a live match that no one can call fake (unlike the hotly debated Gillette video from a couple weeks ago).
- This humorous announcement from Conan O'Brien about the name of his new talk show..
- This hilarious Peeping Tom Cat video, which I can't stop laughing at.