The Worlds of Viral Video | Off Book | PBS Digital Studios

The Worlds of Viral Video | Off Book | PBS Digital Studios


I think when people say viral I think they mostly just mean something that everybody’s talking about on the web. Content
is shareable when it hits people emotionally and makes people feel like
they’re proud to have it be associated with their identity. I kind of call it the new advertainment.
Make us great content and make it good enough that they’ll want to pass it around to their friends. Internet comedy specifically, I think that everyone’s just getting good at being funnier faster. Because people have such a shorter attention span for online stuff. That’s what I love about online is that it’s now created this opportunity where you can
make two to five minute videos and have them matter. People remember them. It has a timeless appeal. One of the interesting things about
viral video is there is actually no generally agreed upon definition. A lot of people like to use the word viral to describe something that takes off or is popular. For me, what counts
as viral is: are people inspired to share with their friends? Oftentimes it’s not even the video itself that’s so important. It’s what you think of the video. It’s what your reaction to that video is. We’re entering this new era in media where
it’s not just about serving your own needs. It’s about finding things for your friends and the
people in your life and people are becoming curators and publishers themselves. It’s what the video says about us when we share it. I like to be the funny guy so i share the
funny video. And so i think what you’re seeing now is the web is maturing, social
signals are becoming a bigger and bigger part of it and there’s going to be a higher bar for content creators to make things that people actually want to watch and share. From two thousand ’til two thousand six, accidental would be the key word in
characterizing these videos. It’s an extension from America’s Funniest Videos. Some of the most prominent themes will include cats, babies, schadenfreude moments, repetitive types of
music videos, animations, and borderline obnoxious songs. About two thousand six, there was the
emergence of a remix artist community on YouTube. Their primary role is to
take an existing clip and, totally re-contextualizing them, it took to the idea of viral culture to
the next level. From there people in the professional fields of video
production started taking notice. Videos like dick in a box, like a boss. These
videos totally took the absurd humor that has been running through internet videos
and they just introduced them to a much wider audience. That was the checkpoint
where mainstream and internet culture is really converging. How do we one up
from there? That’s the driving engine that this
convergence is bringing about. Viral video has been fantastic for
comedy. As much as we try to predict what’s going
to be a huge hit on the internet, you never totally know. And we try our best and there’s
things you can do. For example, I try to always start from a place of relatability. Like some topic that people
have experienced before in some way. Six Girls You’ll Date In College. You’re just like my dad. You’ll keep a picture of her to show to friends. She will not. With internet video, you just have to cram it. It’s visually like Hey keep watching! Don’t click away! Hi! HI! HI! We try to keep everything very visual, very fast and within like ten seconds
everyone needs to be aware of why is this funny, where its going to go. Another thing is it’s just, it’s more about the execution
of a concept that touches on a cultural nerve. Pop culture. That’s the thing
that’s being consumed the most. We did have a One Direction parity where we just totally called them like the seventh sign of the apocalypse. And all the One Direction fans were like we love it! As long as you’re covering things that they’re interested in they don’t care what you say. People are a lot more likely to share with their friends a video that they feel relates to their own lives in some way.
But we’re always surprised by what ends up becoming really popular. Early on, brands started looking at You Tube
creators and the so called viral videos they were making and thought hey we can do this ourselves. Initially they were trying to get
free advertising. That they could mimic what was going on on You Tube and with a gag or a
funny joke or a cute animal or a baby they could replace their television advertising.
Avion babies was sort of the first major super successful viral campaign. It reached over a billion views on You Tube.
Just an amazing success. But what they found over time is that these things cost
money so they’re investing more in it. I like power! Old Spice did hundreds of videos that were funny and made
that campaign last over time. What’s interesting are start-ups out there and some
established companies that are using video as their only marketing strategy. The dollar shave club launched basically on a funny video.
Another example is the orabrush guy. Their strategy is a hundred percent video. Videos that appeal to people’s emotions
also really work. Like the Google campaigns do. And those can be incredibly powerful but you know they’re not mentioning anything
specific about Google. It’s not just trusting that we can make good content and people will love us for it but it’s trusting that we can make good content that maybe really isn’t even about us. This is about brands creating content that people want to watch and
it’s really a revolutionary notion. I love two to three minute stories.
Storytelling is almost all I care about. Motivation or inspiration behind my videos is just whatever I think is interesting at that moment. In two thousand three the battery in my iPod died and I was really broke back then so it was a huge deal and Apple wouldn’t replace it. “Apple doesn’t offer a new battery for the iPod?” “No.” We made a three minute movie about it and put it online. It really exploded. It had about five million views in a couple of weeks and that predated You Tube. I always try to get a character that’s leading me through the story. Whether they care about the specific subject matter or not if they’re invested in the character, it’ll drive them through the videos. I’m a big cyclist so naturally I make a lot of movies about bikes and I live in New York City which is this amazing backdrop so it inspires
you to want to tell that story. And that’s what like texting while walking was. it’s
hard to invest yourself in a generic message but if its humanized, if there’s a face
behind it, it’s something to have a relationship with. So if i have the
opportunity to type a title in using software and it just pops up on the screen or I
can draw the title and then film it, by drawing it and filming it, you’re seeing the human hand. You’re seeing something I actually created. I don’t make movies for them to go viral. I just make the best movies I can and happen to just love three to five minutes. It’s my favorite length
for telling a story. And certainly that’s what I love about life more than anything
else, is experiencing the world through stories. We think about viral as entertainment but we’ve seen recently how powerful
and very dramatic events can also spread very quickly. So all of these trivial rules that we try to assign to what becomes popular on the web don’t always apply. Those videos could possibly lead to a discussion or a bigger debate about an
issue, whether it be interracial issues or bullying in schools. It’s now starting to affect politics. Like at the very start of the revolution in Egypt there is a video of a guy staring down a water cannon. it had elements of the Tiananmen idea. There’s gotta be comforting feeling that
somewhere, someone in the world, other people are seeing the mess that you’re in. So what
we’re seeing is transition from receiving and consuming these videos to talking about the video and starting another chapter. Now people are raising funds and doing
things to actually make things happen. When we think back and remember many of these moments, we’ll remember them through these You Tube videos. And that is a very, very different thing. Ten years ago it would take six months for
something to reach it’s full viral spread. Eight years ago it took something like two or
three months. Then it got down to a week and now it’s something that things can reach there full viral reach within a day or two. I actually think were in this
You Tube created renaissance of content. I think it’s cool that were in an era now where people are paying more attention to like how to get to the funnier thing faster. So
it is kind of a game, the viral contest. I think You Tube is still entirely the
wild wild west. Five years from now the stuff that we’re seeing online will be entirely different than right now. We’re in sort of this transitional phase. We’re just starting to understand what happens when you open up the power of video to the masses. We’re going to continue to see things that surprise us for the next decades.

100 thoughts on “The Worlds of Viral Video | Off Book | PBS Digital Studios

  1. i get kinda sad everytime i think about how in a few years, youtube will be very different. im sure ill love future youtube as well and i know change is good, but i really love youtube now and epic fails and like a boss and sh*t — says vids XD ill miss it, and i cant wait to share those kinds of vids with my kids. ill have them laughing their butts off :')

  2. what a fucking circle jerk. Yea, it's fucking great that peoples level of attention and concentration are so low that…. HEY… HAVE YOU DRIFTED OFF AND STOPPED READING THIS? This is exactly what I'm talking about… you total Zombie.

  3. We got it started! There is a link in the description to a work-in-progress Google Doc. It's about 90% complete. We'll finish it up this week. 🙂

  4. Ok, this is not only my favorite Youtube channel, but it's clearly run by the most awesome people ever! I LOVE YOU WHOEVER YOU ARE! <3

  5. Awesome video guys. I just discovered your channel, and I love the documentary style look at these different subjects. Keep up the great work.

  6. what I've always wondered, if you take the essence of gladwell's outliers, grassroots marketing, and "viral" entertainment… what patterns can we extract by studying who "likes" these videos first, what social media tools they use to share them, and the effects after certain people click on certain buttons (thinking infograph material). i think it would be interesting, and have many parallels to predicting a movie's revenues based on the turnout from opening night. thoughts/comments?

  7. it's key of awesome's parody of bad romance. search for "Lady Gaga: Bad Romance parody" so ridiculously good. 🙂

  8. So the guy's ipod battery died and he does not have enough money to buy a new battery but he has enough money to make a movie about it? my god, just how much does these ipod thingy costs? :O

  9. Josh the cartoon guy wants to know how many of his tax $ went to fund this video. Here's the answer: Corporation for Public Broadcasting received $445 million from Congress in 2012. According to Forbes Magazine (April 2012) 122 million Americans pay federal income tax. Do the math: 455 divided by 122 = 3.65. So all of NPR and PBS broadcasting costs you $3.65 a year. Penny a day.

  10. And just imagine, all of this would be a tiny, hobbled, censored fraction of what it currently is if we let internet-uneducated politicians pass completely broken policy that violates the first amendment.

  11. Mainstream and internet culture are not converging. Internet culture is causing hell for what is known as Mainstream – mainstream, we all should know, may as well be considered a company unto itself. The attempt of mainstream to converge WITH the tumultuous internet riverstream is a flailing attempt to keep money flowing where its been flowing for years..warner brothers..abc..cbs..name your hosting media group. They want to keep their lights on. They will fail. to our benefit

  12. if its propaganda produced by the "masses", its still propaganda. popularity shouldnt be the arbiter of quality. notice how many viral videos are spectacular in nature; designed for short attention spans. the internet still has a long way to go to mature. be wary of these populists, complacent with advertising and the next shiny new thing referencing someone rich and famous

  13. so to speak, incorrect? its called an opinion hipster – take your circle talking to the coffee shop for intellectual woolgathering. i could give a shite…move on.

  14. awesome vid.. hmm anyone knows who is the girl in top right of thumbnail who had that scary smile expression?..

  15. Can someone like list up all the viral videos in this video for me? I need them when im bored or heartbreak or lonely or anything! Please

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