Rocket's Tail

Everything Visible from the Ground as an Industry Lifts Off

Posts Tagged ‘online

Trend-Setter Gets Invited to YouTube Partner Program

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Melissa Gonzalez doesn’t let the dust settle under her feet. She is co-founder of RS Pop-Up Shop, which blends online video, with fashion, branding, and a hot store front location in mid-town Manhattan on Lexington Ave. The former host of Latin Beat on BET also runs beautyfashionfitness.com. To call her a go-getter with vision would be an understatement. She’s been a Wall Street Executive, a television host, a style maven, and a successful blended-industry entrepreneur. This woman knows a few things. However, recently, she and a friend started a comedy show “just for fun” called: The Glory Box Girls. Though the chit-chat might edge toward racy (they’re on YouTube, afterall), something unexpected happened. One of their videos crossed beyond a thousand views, began receiving a lot of comments, and then YouTube invited them to include that video in their Partner Program. Melissa  agreed to go on camera can talk a bit about their entry into the Partner Program, some of the choices the program is influencing, and she agreed to come back and talk with us in about six months to discuss how it’s going.

Here is what Melissa has to say:

What about the Writer’s Guild of America?

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Webseries creators have long had questions about unions. As a group, many of us write, direct, produce, some of us star in our works, run camera, and do all the editing. So the question many creators have is regarding whether to join a union (SAG, AFTRA, Writer’s Guild of America East/West, Producer’s Guild, etc.). In trying to answer this question for myself, I tracked down Ursula Lawrence (ulawrence@wgaeast.org) of Writer’s Guild East and asked her a few questions on camera at their headquarters in downtown Manhattan.

Free 3D Modeling Tool Enhances Digital Video Production

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Recently, while perusing the archives of the American Shakespeare Festival Theatre in Stratford, CT—where Saxon Mills is based—I came across something interesting.

Model from the American Shakespeare Theatre (1950s)

It was a contact sheet for a set of photographs of a model of a set, which was to be built on this hallowed stage in the mid-1950’s. I quickly saw the corollary between these giant stage productions and the productions of webseries, music videos, and other intentional online video content.  3D modeling of sets is clearly nothing new. What is exciting is how accessible they are for the cost-conscious producer of online video, today.

Google Sketchup from "Good Night and Good Luck"

The 2005 film, Good Night and Good Luck, directed by George Clooney utilized Google Sketchup. In 2006, production designer James Bissell was quote as saying, “I’ve used SketchUp to design movie sets for almost two years and I love the ease with which I can add to an existing design. Making quick edits is crucial to the movie production process and this software delivers on its promise of ease and accessibility.” The ease and accessibility is exactly why Google Sketchup is such a powerful tool in the creation of online video.

There are so many different reasons and ways to make the most of 3D modeling for production. However, this post is focused on how our team has reduced time on location by utilizing this free tool.

Twice I have had access to my ideal location with very limited time to set, shoot, and strike. In both cases we beat the allotted time by 15 minutes only because we had spent considerable time on location virtually in Google Sketchup. Google Sketchup comes with an expansive library of models to pull into the virtual location, including Arri and Kino Flo lights & stands as well as models of architectural elements such as Pella windows and models of people in various shapes, sizes, and colors.

Google Sketchup Model from Wishing Music Video

For the music video Wishing, we created a restaurant counter and a back wall and loaded in pre-existing models of actors, stools, and diner-booths. From there we created a lighting design including the specific lights we planned to use. Prior to the shoot, cast and crew received a copy of the 3D model. When shoot day came, set, shoot, and strike took two hours and forty-five minutes. A similar

Still from Wishing Music Video

process was used when the team had one day to shoot twenty-two pages of script in the Hersham Acorn Newspapers offices for The Oligarch Duplicity.

Knowing that we didn’t want to move lights during the shoot, we were able to load in pre-existing models of the lights we planned to use and office furniture as well as models of people.

Google Sketchup Model from Wishing Music Video

We created an entire storyboard of shots with the lights in place. Though the team spent less than eighteen hours to set, shoot, and strike the newspaper office, it was only possible because we had spent more than eighty hours on location virtually.

Google Sketchup Model from The Oligarch Duplicity

There are many reasons to create 3D models prior to production. This is something they knew at the American Shakespeare Festival Theatre more than fifty years ago; back when the slide-rule was the tool of quick calculations. Now today, when productions are viewed around the world simultaneously from small and large production companies alike; it’s great that such a powerful tool is available to take advantage of the latest technology to do the same thing. What should be exciting for the online video industry is that budget or lack of it is not a barrier to use.

You can find Google Sketchup here: http://sketchup.google.com/.

The Definitive YouTube Guide

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Building an Audience, Optimizing for Search, and Making Money

The title to this post is fairly tongue-in-cheek. The reality is that if you catch any well-known so-called “you-tubers” off-the-record, they’ll tell you that all bets are off. Even panelists from last night’s YouTube Partner’s Meet-up, which was held at Google’s New York City offices, confided that the ubiquitous platform and it’s community seems to be very different from year to year. Panelists included: Michael Buckley (What the Buck), Ben Relles (Barely Political), Kevin Nalty (Nalts), and William Hyde (TheWillofDC). Each of these guys gave varying perspectives on their success and have taken different approaches to their content, much which I love. However, the most helpful part of the evening were two sessions lead by Margaret Healy, Google Partner, and what she shared about how their platform works and how to make the most of our shows. What follows are some of those insights:

Michael Buckley, William Hyde, Ben Relles, and Kevin Nalty

Building an Audience

Early in the evening, Healy posted a TubeMogul pie chart depicting statistics about where video views come from (no, not from the lettuce patch). Additionally, a number of statistics were thrown out to the audience, like the fact that YouTube is the second largest search engine (ostensibly second only to Google), that 24 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, and that 40% of online video views happen on YouTube. Interestingly, during the Q&A, one partner asked about securing placement on the YouTube platform. Healy’s response was that videos didn’t get popular because of a YouTube spotlight. Essentially, YouTube’s perspective is, “you need to build your own audience.” There was encouragement for partners to network, collaborate, and even form friendships. There was a lot of talk about inbound traffic to YouTube utilizing video embeds, links, and the new email option that partners were encouraged to ask their subscribers to opt-in to (note: it’s a multiple-click process to opt in). There was talk about how to share subscribers and a ton of talk about interaction. Buckley pointed to how much time he spends interacting with his audience via the comments on his videos and that he is less focused on his website than on his YouTube channel. When a follow-up question was asked about how many hours a day he spends responding to comments he emphasized: “A LOT!” I was quickly reminded of a conversation I had last year with Joe Swanberg (Young American Bodies) when I asked him how building an audience was different online than it was in film. He responded to the affect that building an audience was just the same online: one viewer at a time. So, back to the TubeMogul pie chart: while 45% of video views come from within the site, 44% came from inbound traffic (ie. blogs, links, etc.). The next obvious question is, beyond sharing subscribers and getting people to link to a video or embed a video, what can you do to find an audience?

Optimizing for Search

How, exactly, does one rise above the noise and get her video found and seen? Healy had some interesting thoughts about optimizing for search (note the earlier statistic about YouTube being the second largest) and that Google search results now include video. Healy went onto say: “I know a lot of you guys spend about 10 hours perfecting you video,” boy, does she underestimate, “and about 10 seconds writing a description for your video.” That was when she introduced Al (short for algorithm). She explained that while the YouTube Algorithms do not watch the videos, they read all the text available (title, tags, and description). She gave CookingWithDog as an example of the kind of specificity needed in descriptions to help optimize a video for search. She did a quick Google search for “cooking bento” and the cookingwithdog video was available above-the-fold. Once on the video page she opened up the description and there was the entire recipe. Then she offered a tip for those of us with text rich videos: turn on auto-captions, copy and paste the captions into the description, correct the captions, save, and then turn off auto-captions. Other things that impact the YouTube Algorithms? Any of the following will help: inbound links, frequency of posting (the more you post, the more Al will like your video), and getting included in official playlists. Also, note that the algorithms are designed to identify spam and misleading behavior as well as copyright infringement, etc.

Making Money

Once you’ve figured out how to build an audience all on your own and how to optimize your video so people will find it when they search for related stuff, of course you’ll want to know: HOW DO I MAKE MONEY?  If you want to make money on YouTube, you need to first apply to become a YouTube partner. Once you’ve done that, there’s a lot of stuff to know and figure out:

The first question is how exactly one makes money on YouTube. Very simply: advertising. Wait. No. The TWO ways to make money on YouTube are advertising and rentals. Oh, but wait…the THREE ways to make money on YouTube are advertising, rentals, and paid placement. Yes, the list is still growing. But, don’t worry…there is no comfy chair! (Special note about the third: YouTube allows partners to get paid for product placement but due to recent FCC regulations requiring the disclosure of paid content, please check the box during upload that says: “This video contains a paid product placement.”) However, the main way that video on YouTube is currently monetized is with advertising (pre-roll, post-roll, and overlays, and in-stream ad-insertion in videos longer than 10 minutes, as well as with AdSense).

YouTube has three ways they package their video inventory for advertisers.

  1. Category – When you go to upload your video, you should select which category your video is best suited for. Sometimes ad buyers will buy the entire category.
  2. Video Vertical – This is determined by all the metadata on a per-video basis (ostensibly based on views, content, and other qualifying factors such as extensive descriptions)
  3. Custom Packs – YouTube has an unlimited number of custom packs of videos that advertisers buy. Special interest right now for YouTube is video content geared toward moms.

Please note that the algorithms on YouTube/AdSense are designed to weed out racy content and other kinds of content that advertisers might find objectionable. It was difficult to get a clear read on what, exactly, racy and objectionable might be; but one must assume that objectionable will trend with the sensibilities of the culture at any given time. Healy’s suggestion was to make videos TV-ready to make them appealing to advertisers.

There were approximately two hundred partners in the room for the session and many of us “old timers” could be heard saying things like: “oh, I didn’t know you could do that now; that’s helpful.” Clearly, this was a great step for YouTube toward helping to build its collection of partners into a community. Hopefully, there will be many more YouTube Partner Meet-ups and YouTube will continue this more personal flow of information. I, for one, believe that it’s incumbent on we the Partners to build our community.

Beyond the Whips and Barbed Wire – Interview with Todd Norwood (Meet the Mayfarers)

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Upon first meeting the creator of Meet the Mayfarers, Todd Norwood, I was stuck by this incredibly affable guy with a quirky sense of humor. It was at the LA Tubefilter Meet-up, Tim Street introduced us, and we talked plenty of shop. Then, a month later, deep in conversation with Brian What at Slap House Radio we decided to take a look at the front page of Blip.tv. There was Todd, lying on a bed in a penguin costume next to a very dominant woman. I remember being struck at the juxtapositioning of penguin suit, whips, barbed wire, and mom walking into the room asking, “what is this?” in the episode entitled: Family Revelations. Todd has spent years crafting the many episodes of the series, Meet the Mayfarers, and has promised to keep shooting episodes as long as they keep having fun.

Todd assured Rocket’s Tail that the syndication of his show on Blip.tv has been a real boon to the work they are doing. Shooting along the short coastline of New Hampshire, Todd proves that interesting online video is coming from locations far from those A-list markets of New York and Los Angeles.

Meet Todd in this interview that was conducted in Cambridge, MA:

Jeremy Allaire, Online Video Industry Leader, Discusses its Future

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Most segments of industry were hit hard last year! Remember just a month ago when we were all kissing 2009 goodbye ready to see it gone forever? Well Jeremy Allaire‘s company, Brightcove, managed to grow its revenues 50% year over year, in 2009. Their customers have ranged from media companies (The New York Times, Fox, AOL, etc.) to plenty of non-media companies (Reebok, GM, Ticketmaster, etc.). And, seeing an opportunity to develop customers on the lower tier of online media, they rolled out Brightcove Express for $99/month; perfect for your local newspaper just dabbling with online video or that travel company looking to grow its community of travelers!

Jeremy Allaire is no new-comer to this space, either. Having co-founded Allaire Corporation where he developed Coldfusion and then teamed up with Macromedia to develop Flash, he is truly one of the online video industry’s leaders.

Rocket’s Tail caught up with Jeremy Allaire at the Brightcove Headquarters in Cambridge, MA to talk with him a little bit about where the industry is right now, where it might be heading, and how that intersects with other industry segments.

Interactive Video As Easy as Tagging Facebook Photos!

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Rocket’s Tail caught up with Roger Wu at the NY Video Meet-up this week. His company, Klickable.tv, has a unique take on making videos interactive. Inspired by pop-up music videos of the 1980’s, Roger liked the idea of tagging a video and allowing people to engage with the content directly by then having pop-ups upon scroll-over or opportunities to click for more information or to even make a purchase. He described Klickable.tv as a wrapper that can take your already-published video (on say YouTube, or Vimeo) and allow you to create interactive opportunities as easily as tagging a photo in Facebook. The end-user experience is that of being able to click on a portion of a video to get information, links, and other fun interactions.

Here is the video interview with Roger:

Additionally, you can see Klickable.tv verion of the video by clicking here: http://rocketstail.tumblr.com/

I asked Roger a few additional questions just prior to this post:

1. Are their any limitations to the length or source of footage that can be used with Klickable?

Nope – we’ve had people stream 90 minutes through – just remember your audience, i’d rather watch 90 1 minute clips than 1 90 minute clip

2. When I wash a video through Klickable, and somebody watches that, does it count as a video view on the source video portal (say YouTube or something else)?

It does if you are using the video portal’s video player, which our free version does for YouTube and Vimeo.

3. Are their ways for video creators to make money with Klickable?

Yes, affiliate links, advertising, analytics, engagement, etc etc!!

4. Does Klickable do any matching up of content with advertisers?

We do. If you check out the “free” version we utilize LocalPages to serve up contextually relevant Pay per click advertising…

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