It was another big week for viral videos. You probably heard about the Facebook Arm Tattoo video (which was a hoax), or the video of the soldiers who were charged for extra bags by Delta... or maybe you caught one of the dozens of great new video game clips from the E3 conference. But despite these news-making video events, there were still tons of great viral videos piling up the views this week. As we do every Friday, we'll take a look at some of the most popular, and try to ascertain what helped each one get popular.
Without further ado...
I've featured videos shot using the Go Pro camera in this column before. Go Pro is a company that aims to make HD action filmmaking easy for athletes through the use of a small, portable camera. And this week, one YouTube user decided to do something I'm surprised no one had ever thought of before: attach a camera to a hula hoop, to get the hoop's perspective:
I talk an awful lot about how popular "new perspective" video content is--where the audience sees something they're familiar with (in this case, hula hoops being used), only with a brand new perspective (seeing the action from the hoop's perspective). Simple concept, simple execution... half a million views. Not too shabby.
Another viral hit from this week featured a popular gadget--the iPad. The clip is from a magician named Simon Pierro, and it's freaking awesome:
That must have taken ages to plan out and coordinate in order to get each illusion lined up perfectly. It actually must have been a logistical nightmare. Which, of course, is why a video like this gets a lot of attention. It's also the first iPad-themed magic act I've ever heard of, which makes it quite a novelty. Lastly, the magician has talent--if he didn't, the video would probably never have taken off. Because it's great... it's nearing 3 million views in just five days.
I saw a couple of great videos this week that I can only refer to as "attack videos." It's a tactic I think we're going to see more of... where a brand or an individual makes a video in an effort to shame, belittle, or bring negative attention to another party.
At the Alamo Drafthouse movie theater in Austin, TX, they have a strict no-cell-phones policy. Patrons are warned many times before the feature starts, and the regulars all know about this policy--not even texting or turning on your phone's screen for any reason are allowed.
And last week, they kicked out a patron for texting, after several warnings. As angry customers are known to do, the woman decided to claim innocence, and called the theater's answering machine to leave an angry message. That voicemail is now part of a new PSA the theater is running on all shows to help illustrate why they have the policy in the first place. Love this video:
Greenpeace is apparently upset with Mattel--the toy manufacturer--and it has something to do with the destruction of forests in the name of creating toy packaging materials... at least that's what Greenpeace says. To show their displeasure, they're taking aim at Mattel's biggest seller: Barbie. Check out this attack video that quickly goes from cute to rather shocking... and angry:
This kind of attack video doesn't have to just come from brands or major nonprofits. Sometimes they can come from amateurs. Like YouTube user caseyneistat, who got a $50 ticket for not riding his bike in a bike lane in New York City. Only thing is... it seems the intended bike lanes there are often blocked by vehicles, trash, construction, and other obstacles.
So caseyneistat decided to follow the officer's instructions--to never, ever leave the bike lane--and film the consequences. the result is probably my favorite video of the week:
People love rallying behind causes, even more so when "the little guy" is getting picked on by a big company or government institution. So these "attack videos" played right into the public's desire to see justice served. It's the bike-lane video's charm and humor that helped push it even further up the charts, and it's nearing a million views after two days. That might actually even be enough views to get someone in the city police department to notice the problem with the bike lanes.
The brands were out in force this week with online video, giving us plenty of great branded viral gems to enjoy. Blendtec came back strong with another installment of their hugely successful Will It Blend? series. And this time they're trying to determine whether or not Justin Bieber can be blended. I think you know the answer, but it doesn't make the video any less entertaining:
Tom, the host of Will it Blend? is the reason these videos succeed. He has just the right balance of cheesiness and humor--I love the staged-reading bits of him narrating the Bieber autobiography.
McDonald's did something really cool in Sweden recently. They created a digital billboard in the city square, and then loaded up an interactive Pong-style video game that onlookers could control with their phones--without having to download anything (still not sure exactly how they did that, but it's amazing). Winners then instantly received a coupon on their device, which they could then take to a nearby restaurant for a nice treat. Check it out:
Outstanding. I'm always going to be a big fan of combining new and emerging technologies with video--I just didn't exactly expect such cool innovation to come from McDonald's.
Bloopers & Home Videos
Sometimes the best viral videos are the ones where there was no script. Home videos are often filled with exactly the kinds of bloopers and human moments viral viewers adore. These moments are nearly impossible to plan and fake, and most often only come about by complete accident or the act of being in the right place at the right time.
As they say... the truth is usually stranger than fiction.
Like the bike thieves who cut down an entire tree just to steal a bike:
Or the man stopped by police while riding a tractor, drinking a beer, and towing several grocery carts full of even more beer. Imagine being in the police car when this idiot drove by:
You can't technically call this next clip a home video, because it's taken by professional tornado chasers. But it's still a "reality" clip in my mind, because you simply can't script and plan this stuff. These chasers were in Joplin for the devastating storm on May 22, and caught some incredible footage:
Here's a first-time video dater who clearly loves cats entirely too much (to the point of making some viewers wonder if she's faking or exaggerating):
This last blooper/home-video clip is taken from the dashboard of a Jaguar XKR. There's a passenger in the car, who was obviously unprepared for the vehicle's speed and power, and his silent reactions as the test-driver races through the course are priceless:
If you're still looking for ways to put off the Friday work week, you're in luck. I've got a few more great videos you can enjoy:
- This is an ad for some new kind of guitar-playing video game, and it's awesome!
- This little kid is an Internet hero after singing along to the Glee cast covering Teenage Dream (am I the only one a little creeped out by a toddler singing the words "let's go all the way tonight?").
- Robots are awesome. Robots made out of beer cans are even more awesome.
- This flyover video of Venice Beach is hypnotizing.
- These soccer announcers say some pretty ridiculous things--some of which aren't even real words (make sure you stay with the video at least through "Wah Wah Wee Wah," you won't regret it.)
- If you follow the NBA, and the debate over Lebron James talent versus Michael Jordan, then you should watch this video.