There are always great new videos being created and uploaded. It's probably one of the best things about the world of video… it's always changing, evolving, and growing. Every week we try to pick a few to share with you that really stood out—a few of our favorite viral videos of the week. We'll also try and briefly analyze each video's rise to popularity, to see if we can spot the triggers that propelled it to the top.
Let's get to it:
Lebron Vs. Cleveland
I really liked two videos in recent weeks that starred Lebron James. In fact, they both contain the same footage of Lebron, used in different ways. First, we have the Lebron Rise commercial from Nike. It's an attempt to address the many things that fans and analysts have said about some of Lebron's decisions in 2010. Among other criticisms, he's been accused of abandoning the city of Cleveland, where he had said he wanted to win a championship. If you haven't seen it, take a look:
That is one well-made video. Whatever your personal convictions may be about the decisions Lebron James has made with his career, the ad itself is fantastic.
But what if you can't separate your personal convictions from the ad itself? If you're the angry citizens of Cleveland, you splice up the video and make one of your own… one that lambasts James from beginning to end. Check it out:
Wow. They are bitter. And since I'm not from Cleveland and have no idea how they're feeling, I won't judge them for that. Instead, I'll simply praise them for their viral strategy. They hopped on another popular video and road its coattails to fame, and playing off a current hot topic or pop-culture trend is always a great way to get some attention.
They also used another trick from the viral toolbox: the recut. Literally using another piece of footage in a new way. And on top of all that… it's funny—the editing between the original and the new clips is very well timed.
Don't be afraid to experiment with video the way a DJ does with a good beat. Splice, cut, paste, mash-up, overdub… experimentation can often lead to "Eureka!" moments. Just watch out for copyrights. I'm not sure why Nike hasn't had this clip pulled, except that it would ultimately only draw even more criticism for James. Or maybe they see this as covered by the laws regarding parody. Either way, it's good to remember that anytime you use a clip that you do not own, you run some risks.
Xbox Kinect Pratfalls
At some point in our lives, we've all heard a stand-up comedian make some kind of joke about America's Funniest Home Videos and the high volume of videos they showed involving someone falling down or getting hit in the crotch. But the truth is… Americans love "accident" videos. We love to see pratfalls, people falling down, and minor accidents—a smaller portion of the viral audience would also enjoy seeing serious accidents, but I am not one of them.
My second example of a great viral video from this week involves just such an accident. Specifically, it's a boy and his father (or possibly his grandfather) playing a game on the new controller-less Xbox contraption, Kinect, and somebody gets smacked in the face. The anticipation is everything. You know something bad's going to happen, but you're not sure what or when. Take a look:
Now, I have no way of knowing if this uploader is shooting for a viral video career. I doubt it. But regardless, videos are generally uploaded to be shared, and nearly 700,000 have shared this video in the last week.
A great deal of the initial interest in the clip was probably due to the Kinect being featured. I'm sure there were many searches for phrases involving the word "kinect" around the time of its release, and this video's initial seed viewers probably came from there. But once they discovered the accident at the end of the clip, its viral rise became all about the pratfalls. While these things are difficult to fake convincingly, and there's no guarantee you'll ever be in the right place and time to film them, it pays to know what makes the viewing audience laugh and share. And people hurting themselves might never go out of style. Don't be afraid to capitalize on your own bloopers.
Kobe & Kimmel Play Black Ops
My final example of the week is the fantastic commercial for the new video game Call Of Duty: Black Ops. It stars a series of "regular Joes" in a war zone, wielding M-16s and other heavy weaponry. There's even an appearance by Kobe Bryant, and Jimmy Kimmel fires a rocket launcher near the end. The tagline? There's a soldier in all of us.
Take a look:
The spot has actually drawn a bit of controversy, with some in the media claiming it's not appropriate to feature everyday people in full combat scenarios. Personally, I think the effect is pretty hilarious.
And the reason for the humor is another old favorite viral ingredient of mine: juxtaposition. Taking someone or something and placing it in a world where it seems out of place—sometimes called the "fish out of water" treatment—is a great way to mine for laughs. Hollywood's been using it for decades, from Mr. Smith Goes To Washington all the way up to Elf.
Juxtaposition works for a couple reasons. First, it takes your audience by surprise, and surprise is always a great way to grab attention and make sure your video is memorable. Second, it provides the humor by creating scenarios we've never seen before. How can you not chuckle at seeing that cook at the end walking into the street, guns blazing, like he's in a John Woo movie?
Think about ways to play with setting and character, and don't be afraid to mix things up. Audiences are so used to the routine, being unpredictable can be exactly the boost you need to get your video off the ground.
If I had time for more than a few examples, I would also talk about:
- This amazing and riotous commercial for American Express starring Conan O'Brien
- Budding lip-sync star Keenan Cahill's surprise guest contributor (that had to absolutely make that kid's year)
- This insane video of human castle building in Spain
- This bizarre-yet-fascinating artistic dance performance involving a supersized hula hoop.