a video i love and why: what we learned from responses.

About a week and a half ago, I posted a blog challenge called A Video I Love and Why — choosing the Vancouver 2010 With Glowing Hearts video — and asked others to also post web video they enjoyed and why they did. The results were awesome — and, I think, showed some trends on what we like in video on the web.

  • Andrew Careaga stepped up almost immediately with Battle of the Album Covers. It’s a very creative, if a tad gory, animated story of various classic album covers creating mayhem — and a treat for music lovers.
  • Georgy Cohen suggested The Fully Sick Rapper, part of Christiaan Van Vuuren’s series on his months in tuberculosis quarantine. To try to maintain his sanity, he created videos of himself rapping — and improved his editing skills in the process.
  • Denise Graveline offered a classic Will It Blend? entry from Blendtec’s series of putting various objects through its blender. I found the joyfully cheesy video sufficiently interesting to use it in my media copywriting class.
  • The inimitable Todd Sanders served up Bill Genereux’s YouTube in Classrooms, a plea for educators to use YouTube in their lessons instead of banning access and creativity.
  • Michael Klein volunteered this TEDx video by Derek Sivers using the classic Guy Starts Dance Party YouTube video to make a point about leadership and movements.
  • Lori Packer shared the Red River College’s The Holiday Card, a mix of The Office type satire and screwball comedy, featuring an endearingly self-effacing performance by its president, Jeff Zabudsky.
  • JD Ross checked in with The Machine Is Us/ing Us, a powerful look at how Web 2.0 is not a concept or technology, but the sum total of ourselves.
  • Joe Bonner supplied A Life on Facebook, a current sensation imagining how our lives unfold publicly that is also a classic boy-meets-girl tale.

A wide variety of videos emerged, but some commonalities prevailed.

Substance over style. Most videos people chose were made on fairly low or no budgets. They tended to be simple stories where the appeal was the storyline itself, not anything glitzy or glossy. The same theme came up over and over in responses that you don’t need a lot of money to make a great video. But one thing you do need is …

Talk about the passion. Passion emerged as a common driving factor. Zabudsky is passionate enough about his college leadership, he’s willing to look a bit silly to promote it. Van Vuuren developed a new passion in quarantine and decided to share it. I’m sure the guys at Blendtec want these videos to sell blenders (and they have), but I love their infectious glee over seeing what kinds of crazy things their blender can pulverize. If you do a video — or anything — with passion, it is going to shine through.

Web video is an art form unto itself. If you see a traditional promotional video on YouTube, doesn’t it look out of place? Web video demands good pacing and evocative storytelling. For the highly overrated That’s Why I Chose Yale video, what didn’t work for me (and many others) was that the setup was a couple minutes long, which is longer than most web videos, period. YouTube in Classrooms may be run 10 minutes, but it hooked me right away, and its pacing and content kept me riveted. And Sivers’ TEDx talk is a YouTube video within a video, showing the form itself as something to study.

If you still want to post a response, you’re welcome to do so. Many thanks to those who responded to build this meme. It was fun, sure, but I think we also gained more insight into what goes into great video!

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “a video i love and why: what we learned from responses.

  1. Amen to your point about the overrated Yale video. I have never even watched the entire thing. You’re exactly right — the setup is way too long. The video Todd shared was long, too, but Genereux drew me in immediately with his vignette about men’s room technology.

    This was a fun meme and I’m glad I took part in it. It exposed me to some new videos and to the thoughts of some pretty sharp higher ed thinkers.

  2. Great follow up, Tim!

    I just want to make sure readers don’t confuse “low or no budgets” with “low or no quality!” I produce video on a very low budget but can still produce high quality work. The videos everyone selected still follow basic production rules and are well edited.

    But the key is really the story… I think you are spot on, a good web video will tell a story in a captivating way in order to keep viewers interested until the end.

    I didn’t do a blog post on this, ahh because I don’t yet (YET) author a blog. I still want to share my favorite web video, which will come as no surprise to some of you, the Midd Kid rap found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZzCHcMKyDc

    Why is it my favorite? Student produced, high quality, catchy, youthful, and successful. This video received very little press but has more views (and in the right age categories) than the Yale video that you referenced in your post. This video has students in high school and college all over the nation singing that they want to be “Midd Kids.”

  3. Tim Nekritz

    ANDREW: Agreed on all points. I do, however, love that spoof of the Yale video you posted. And I’m glad so many people gave us great video examples to build a body of work.

    MALLORY: Should have known it would be the famous Midd Kid vid. ; ) And how is it you don’t have a blog yet?

  4. Thanks for the round-up, Tim. I think I’m going to send this post around the office for inspiration.

    I definitely agree with Mallory’s point that “Web video” or “YouTube video” of “flipcam video” or “cheap video” does not equal “sucky video.” The Web videos that my assistant has done may not have the slickest of production values, but they still have work as a visual narrative.

    My mantra: Web video is harder. Always harder than you think it’s gonna be. How would a video tell this story in a way that beautiful still photography and well-written words cannot? No answer? No video.

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