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The Old Internet Is New Again: ‘If I Can Dream’ and Chatroulette March 11, 2010

Posted by Aymar Jean Christian in Uncategorized.
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Original at SpliceToday

Does anyone remember Jennifer Ringley and Sean Patrick? Over 10 years ago, tens of thousands of Americans brought The Truman Show to reality by broadcasting themselves live for anyone to see. Webcams, people forget (especially people my age), were the original web videos. JenniCam and Sean Patrick Live drew thousands of viewers and became one-person brands long before Fred and Ryan Higa. Webcams were low-res and low-energy, but they were voyeurism incarnate.

You know the Internet is old when it starts to repeat itself. (more…)

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The Rules and Meanings of Vlogging November 5, 2009

Posted by Aymar Jean Christian in Uncategorized.
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My first academic article has been published! The article, published in First Monday, titled, “Real Vlogs: The Rules and Meanings of Online Personal Videos,” looks at how users on YouTube talk about what vlogs are “real” or authentic, and “fake” or inauthentic. Here’s the abstract:

This paper explores what the “rules” of vlogging (video blogging) are: the various visual and social practices viewers and creators understand and debate as either authentic or inauthentic on YouTube. It analyzes a small, random set of vlogs on YouTube and highlight several controversies around key celebrities on the site. This essay concludes by challenging whether conversations around authenticity will persist in dialogues about online video.

The paper looks several different kinds of vlogs to see to examine what visual strategies count as a real vlog and which ones do not.

In general, however, what is interesting is that even though, for some users, certain vlogs are definitely more authentic than others, a number of YouTubers either don’t care or expressly advocate for doing whatever you need to do to your video to get views. This pits the “authentic” with the “commercial.” But it’s not always an either/or presumption. The essay concludes by stating that the distinctions between what is real and fake may be collapsing, and users instead defer to whatever moves them emotionally — through hilarity, seriousness, etc.

I think the most valuable contribution of the piece might be the section on Lonelygirl15, which has been written about, but I really speak a long time combing through blog posts and new reports to figure out who said what about Bree, who thought she was fake and why, and what all of those conversations meant for the meaning of online video. I also narrate an interesting incident about LisaNova — when she first started LonesomeRhodes — that is a small incident within the scale of YouTube, but nonetheless a significant one, I would argue.

I’d also like to throw in, which I only allude to in the article, that many of the debates I highlight are really remnants of YouTube’s early days of popularity (2006/2007). By now, most people on the site have seen it all, and few things shock. These debates still happen though, as with the young girl who cried about her legal problems with sexual abuse, and the Raz-B incident, two incidents I write about elsewhere.

What is a Web Series? A Guide and Introduction October 9, 2009

Posted by Aymar Jean Christian in Uncategorized.
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Michael Buckley and his popular YouTube show, "What the Buck"

Michael Buckley's show, "What the Buck," is a snappy daily overview of celebrity current events.

Crackle's new zombie/comedy series, Woke Up Dead

"Woke Up Dead" is a comedy horror series premiering on Crackle in the fall 2009.

"Valemont," MTV's hyper-interactive series from TV to Web

"Valemont" is a web series that premiered on MTV, is sponsored by Verizon and has multiple extensions in mobile and online.

easy-to-assemble

Ikea's web series "Easy to Assemble" is a comic romp set inside its own stores.

What is a web series? To anyone in the industry right now, this post will be elementary. Apologies in advance. But I think for academics and maybe aspiring producers, this might be useful. I’ve had a bunch of hits on my old primer, but it’s rough at best. I’m also posting this so if you’re doing something with web series I don’t mention you can let me know — I want to have the most complete picture possible of this medium.

When I talk about researching web series to friends and colleagues, I often hear: “what do you mean by that?” There are hundreds (thousands, likely) of web series. Here’s my attempt to give people some basic information, based on ongoing interviews with producers, marketers, distributors and others.

Please, if I’m missing something or made an error, comment or contact! I’ll update with new information; I want this to be a resource.

(more…)

ONLINE VIDEO: Where and How to Publish Your Videos, Web Series September 29, 2009

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finebrothers

UPDATE: For the full interview, click here.

I had an email interview with Benny and Rafi Fine recently, the pair that makes up the Fine Brothers, the duo of producers making some of the most popular viral videos on the net, along with a couple of web series. They’re razor-smart, and I hope to quote extensively from our interview in future articles, but I wanted to pull out an interesting statement from Rafi that I think is useful for producers starting out in the space. It’s about where to publish your videos and knowing which websites are good for specific kinds of videos. The Fine brothers publish everywhere: YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, Atom, iTunes, FunnyorDie, Break. This is in part because they do all kinds of videos; so take the advice with a grain of salt: they’re more versatile than your average producer, so they publish more places.

Rafi: YouTube is of course the bread and butter of everything online. No other site gives any ad money to independent producers on that scale, and no other site gets us steady views like YouTube (thanks to their subscriber system which over time has stood out as the best). That said, the other sites have their specific merits… whether it’s the million views you can get in a day or 2 if Break puts you on the homepage, to the more traditional media cred Funny Or Die gives you.

It all depends on what ones goals are online really, and changes month to month on which websites can help you achieve those goals. That said, YouTube should be the base of operations since it has stood out as the only place other than iTunes that can generate a reliable fanbase that will always come back for more.

Not all producers have found success on YouTube, of course. I got an email the other from a web series creator whose YouTube videos have not taken off in the same way. The Fine Brothers probably do well on the ‘Tube because they’re really funny. Their videos go viral, because people like to share them. They’ve used the visibility from YouTube to build a fanbase and support their other activities — like their Atom project MyProfileStory, which, despite being of one the more creative web series ideas, did not go past the pilot, though Benny tells me it’s not over quite yet: “It was a huge success though and we have several companies interested in the series.” So there’s still hope!

Although they are still invested in the future of web video, the Fine brothers told me they are taking meetings with traditional TV companies; it’d be great to see the aesthetics of web humor make it onto the TV screen (aside from the activity already happening in web video, like YouTube on AppleTV and the Koldcast/TiVO deal, noteworthy developments on their own from the past few years).

If you haven’t seen them yet, here’s one of their latest viral vids, part of their “spoilers” series, which apparently they shoot in one take (looks like it to me)! I can’t imagine how hard it is to memorize all these lines, and then say them so fast — though I guess Michael Buckley knows something about that.

spoilers-fine-brothers

For more of the interview you’ll have to stay tuned and watch for them in other publications!

TV: “Adam On The Road” and Other Web Series July 10, 2009

Posted by Aymar Jean Christian in Uncategorized.
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You’re forgiven if you don’t watch any made-for-Internet television — also known as: web series, webisodes, web shows, or web originals; they’re still working on the name. Most people don’t. Ever since Lonelygirl15, the faux-vlog on YouTube turned ridiculously over-the-top web series, debuted three years ago, the web show has been consistently on the rise but never reaching a breaking point. Sure, there have been breakouts, most notably Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, the Neil Patrick Harris starrer recently honored with a few Streamys — a web series Webby — and now available on Hulu, and of course there is YouTube’s Fred, perhaps the most obviously popular (with 12 year-olds). But nothing has broken through the culture in a huge way. Not that celebrities aren’t trying.

More at Ronebreak

YOUTUBE: Black Vloggers article LIVE May 5, 2009

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UPDATE: I’ve since been writing on black web series, black distribution of online video, and specific shows. For all new posts, see my web series page.

Vlogging While Black

A few black vloggers are beginning to make a splash on the scene. But it doesn’t mean it’s easy. “YouTube is very, very white,” explained Tonya, the blogger from TonyaTKO, who has 22,000 subscribers. With so many videos being uploaded, vloggers vie for prime placement on YouTube’s home page. “It’s very hard for black people to get seen on YouTube.” Like the many types of media that came before YouTube, the black vloggers who get noticed can often fit a stereotype. From the bizarre to the hilarious to the inspirational, here’s a sampling of some of the up-and-coming black vloggers and their winning formula…

Read the full article here.