The content pool is growing, I think. When I first started writing this weekly viral video round up column, I would flag maybe seven or eight videos throughout the week as potential examples for us to talk about. This week… I had over 60. So either the overall pool of viral hits is growing, or I'm just paying much more attention now than I was before. Probably a bit of both. But either way… you win, as you end up with more great videos and video lessons than ever before.
Videos sometimes go viral by showing us things we've seen plenty of times before, but doing so in a new way, and with a unique perspective. Even the most common item or location can become new to us all over again if we see it in a new light. And several videos that went viral this week demonstrate that principle.
First, we have another tilt shift video. I'm sure these will get old eventually, but I'm not there yet. I'm still enthralled. Here we have a look at Jackson Hole, tilt-shifted:
Another great video this week came from Vimeo user Philip Bloom, who took advantage of some exceptional hotel-room views to film an homage to Seattle's Space Needle:
It's practically a Vimeo sweep in this category, I guess, as another Vimeo user employed unique perspectives to show off the reality and the beauty of Phuket, Thailand:
Our final example in this category is called Time Machine, and was shot in 1906. It's a ride through downtown San Francisco, filmed just days before the quake and fire that nearly destroyed the city for good. It's eerie and beautiful all at once:
Show the audience something they know–a major city, a ski resort, a famous monument–but do it in a new way or with a unique perspective. The hints of the familiar will draw them in, while the new perspective will hold their attention.
Did I Just See That?
Sometimes things happen in life that are just beyond belief. It can be a freak event in nature, a jaw-dropping athletic move, or the appalling behavior of a fellow human being. Whatever the subject… if you can capture a moment on film that is hard to believe for even those in-person witnesses, then you stand a very good chance of going viral. Viewers are compelled to share things that truly blow their minds.
You see this phenomenon a lot with sports videos, like this soccer player who somehow manages to score two goals with one kick:
2011 already has a winner in the race for the Corniest Title of a Viral Video Award with "Udderly Amazing: Girl Teaches Cow To Jump." In it, you'll see an AP report of a girl who rides a cow the way most people ride horses:
Don't let the next example video fool you. What starts out looking like an amateur skateboarding practice suddenly turns into one of the more insane tricks I've ever seen:
No wonder so many people try to fake amazing feats or accomplishments. They spread like wildfire.
Brands Get Clever & Diverse
Brands are definitely getting better with online video. There are more brands overall producing viral content, and they're producing it across an insanely wide variety of genres and formats. Several brands had home runs this week, not even counting Apple's new iPad 2 spot that we wrote about here.
If "creepy" isn't your thing, then maybe you'll appreciate this incredible demonstration ad from Tempest Freerunning Academy–a training gym for freerunners and parkour enthusiasts:
Geez, that's a great video. Probably my favorite of the week. All at once it entertains at a high level and shows off what appears to be a state-of-the-art training facility that is open for business. Outstanding. It would be great even if it wasn't advertising anything. There's clearly a ton of preparation and rehearsal at work here–some of the timing is very tight–and the athletes are all impressive. I'm sort of amazed that this is a big enough sport that they have their own academies now, but it's undeniably awesome to watch. You can see why more than a million people have found that worthy of passing along.
Moving on… even Charlie Sheen demonstrated some honest-to-goodness viral savvy this week, by re-cutting many of the interview video clips that launched his current wave of popularity. He's taking tons of existing footage and reshaping it into something completely new–that's the same viral strategy that we saw Nike use last week. Here's the new clip, I make no promises you will like it; only that it got a ton of views and seems to have entertained a lot of people (strong language advisory):
See, Sheen has the benefit of being a bit of a controversial fellow these days. So his videos, or videos of him, can go viral with two different audiences for two different reasons all at the same time: people who love him and think he's really great, and people who can't believe what an idiot he's become. It's always risky to be controversial as a strategy, but when it works, you double your audience. Don't believe me? Try talking about politics in your next video.
My Sky–a cable television service in the U.K.–scored a hit this week as well, with a video detailing 60 things (in 60 seconds) a husband could do instead of watching TV. The spot works extremely well because it's so jam-packed with jokes that it almost demands a second viewing (and it certainly rewards multiple viewings):
As usual, there are too many viral successes this week for me to fit them all in. Here are a few I wish I'd had time to discuss further:
Everyday People Being Weird
- This guy is entirely too happy about having the Washington D.C. Metro train all to himself. (WARNING: He cusses a bit, especially right at the beginning.)
- Here's a fellow in a bathrobe and shower cap, covering a Led Zeppelin song.
For the animal-loving readers:
- Slow-motion cat attack
- Which cat is guilty? (another of my favorite videos of the week)
- Russians aren't afraid of bears, apparently
- Speaking of bears… here's a couple young bears playing with a tiger cub
Miscellaneous (everything else):
- A "trick shot" video featuring everyday, household objects and tasks.
- Another cute baby alternating between frightened and happy.
- A baby on top of a Roomba? Sure, why not?