I wrote yesterday about the discovery problem with online video. There's so much video being uploaded at such a rapid pace that it's literally impossible for every video to have an even chance to be found. The average viewer has neither the time nor the inclination to go searching through all the raw video uploaded each day. Which is why we're seeing more and more curated sites pop up.
And I guess in a way, this column is a bit like a little weekly burst of video curation. I show you some of my favorite videos of the week, and you just skip straight to the enjoyment.
The Oscars Sweep Viral Video
You probably already know this, but the Academy Awards were held on Sunday. It's one of the most-watched non-sports-related events of the television year--though ratings were down slightly this year. And in the wake of the awards show, several related clips have seen viral success online.
You see, the Oscars are trying to be hip and young, so they can attract a more youthful audience. And to a degree, it worked. Well... not the younger viewers part, the telecast actually lost viewers compared to last year in that demographic. But their concept wasn't bad at all: take what you do (movies) and combine it with another viral trend (autotune). It's a pretty decent formula, and one that we've seen work time and time again.
Here's a good viral lesson: The Academy themselves waited until Wednesday to put up their own version of the actual opening skit, long after I'd seen several versions online from viewers who recorded it off the TV. Even though they have the copyright power to have those competitor videos removed, the viral juice may already have gone out of the clip.
(The Oscars even had a viral hit with this bonus footage of an alternate opening, released the day before the awards.)
Amateur Footage Of Amazing Events
How could I write an entire column about the week's best viral videos without talking about the space shuttle clip? The answer is that I can't.
Quick poll: raise your hand if you've ever been on a plane flying out of Florida and seen the space shuttle take off just off to the side of your aircraft? Hmm... no hands. That's because it's either incredibly rare, or has never happened before. It's certainly never happened in the era of cell phones that have video cameras, or we would have seen something this amazing before:
That has to have been an incredible sight to witness in person--heck, it's pretty incredible on video, and nearly 3.5 million viewers agree so far. The rapid advancement of video technology, coupled with the lowering of costs for equipment, have made it possible for us to see video of moments that previously were only shared by word of mouth.
Show the audience a new perspective on something they've seen before, and you just might grab their attention. Show them something amazing and awe-inspiring, and they're going to tell their friends about it.
Another great piece of amateur footage that I enjoyed this week is of a different variety altogether... it's home video of a women's college basketball game. The amazing event isn't a feat of engineering wonder, but rather just a clever player thinking quick on her feet. Check it out:
I've heard a lot of stories about basketball players doing that--inbounding the ball off the back of a clueless opponent--but I've never seen it happen before. Until now.
At another college basketball game, it was the pep band getting the video camera's attention, by performing a medley of Rage Against The Machine songs... seriously. It's awesome:
Their rehearsal of the same performance, uploaded three days earlier, actually has almost 600,000 more views:
Viral viewers love juxtaposition. We want to see fish out of water, because it's usually interesting. And a bunch of flutes and trumpets and clarinets playing Rage Against The Machine is about as odd a combination as I can think of. I don't know if they were trying to go viral, but they couldn't have planned it better if they were.
There are always great short films being uploaded, from amateurs to film students to professionals. Every once in a while, one gets some viral attention.
Like Tick Tock--a student film from Oxford College at Emory. It won a local film competition, and will apparently be competing now in a national event in Hollywood (according to the video description on YouTube). It takes a Memento-style approach to telling it's story:
The creator says it was all done in one shot using a steadicam, and that it took them 36 takes to get the final version. Now that's what I call a herculean effort. That's dedication to your art. And as long as you have at least a little bit of talent to go with that kind of hard work, the viral viewers will respect the effort.
Another short film I loved this week, called Sub City, is actually a few weeks old. It's from Vimeo user Sarah Klein, and is "a visual poem - about that moment in New York when you emerge from the subway and find yourself in a new and sometimes unexpected world." Take a look:
Awesome. Again... unique perspectives can draw the audience in. So can nostalgia. New Yorkers, people who used to live in New York (like the friend that sent this clip to me)... this video probably speaks even more powerfully to them than it does to me, and I thought it was great.
There were a lot more videos than I had time for, as usual. Here are a few more for you to enjoy:
- Everyone loves this laughing baby (5 million and counting), who is getting way too much enjoyment out of some ripped up paper.
- Jimmy Kimmel used his prime post-Oscars time-slot to score a viral hit with a Toddlers & Tiaras spoof starring Tom Hanks.
- Kimmel also went viral with a much more suggestive sketch, starring several popular actresses as customers of his overtly sexy workout routine.
- Freddiew and Epic Meal Time teamed up to talk smack about video effects in a hilarious collaboration video.
- Epic Meal Time also put out another solo video this week that immediately went viral--this time involving outrageous workout food.