March 20, 2011

How To (Not) Make A YouTube Video...

by Chris Randall

Okay, here's the deal. Either you're a media professional of some sort, or you want to be one. Concurrently, you got a new piece of kit and want to show it off on the 'Tubes, to amaze your friends and amuse your enemies. So why, oh why, do you insist on doing something like this?

The days of "Fucktard Of The Week" are long gone, and I didn't pick this video just to give the dude who made it a hard time. Rather, it embodies virtually everything nobody likes about YouTube gear demo videos in one fell swoop.

1. The Disembodied Hands. I'm guilty of this myself on occasion; sometimes it can't be helped if you're demonstrating a product, or making a video for eBay or something. But seriously, if there is any way you can fit an elbow or something in that frame...

2. That Boy Can Play! Jump? Blue Monday? Born Slippy? You're fucking killing me here. This may come as a shock, but we can all play those parts. Most of us can play them right, even. Unlike you.

3. The Rarest Of The Rare. The reason for making this video is obviously the super rare blue JP-8000. Nobody ever sees one. Seriously, if you're gonna put up a video of parts everyone can play, on a synth everyone has, at least wear a funny costume while you do it.

4. The Shit Quadrella. In short, shitty video, shitty audio, shitty performance, shitty gear. This is the very definition of a waste of bandwidth.

That video has 45,000 views. If you put all those people in one place, that place would need to be a football stadium. If you were going to play a stadium show, is this how you'd want to present yourself?

Crandall's Golden Rules Of YouTube Videos:

1. Play something we've never seen before. Either gear or technique, but ideally both. That way, you're adding to popular culture rather than taking from it.

2. Never apologize. If you plan to spend the whole video or description box telling me how your performance or gear or whatever isn't the best you can do, why should I watch it? Go back and do the best you can do, then hit the "upload" button.

3. Ditch That Cell Phone. The shittiest camcorder currently available takes video that is an order of magnitude better than the best cell phone. And for fuck's sake, buy a tripod, unless your BFF is a steadicam operator.

4. The Mic On Your Camera Is Fucking Useless. Record the audio of your performance anywhere but via the camera's mic. Record in the DAW you're using as a mixer, render, swap that shit out in iMovie.

Seriously, it's not that hard to put up something that is at least mildly interesting, if not outright entertaining. It's harder than recording a video on your iPhone 3GS and pressing the "Upload To YouTube" button, I'll grant. But if you're the sort of person that wants to do things half-assed, you wouldn't be reading this part of the article, anyhow.


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Mar.22.2011 @ 12:07 PM
@afreshcupofjoe 15,000 in 48/hrs?! I put up my first YouTube performance video over a week ago and I just broke 140 views last night. (Note to self: Self-promotion. You're doing it wrong.)

If CR will indulge me. I won't take credit for inspiring this post but I did tweet a link to my video a week and CR hit me back with #2 (and ruminated out-loud about writing this). I mean, Chris has watched a shit-ton of these things so no doubt this post was in the making well before I sheepishly pushed my link live. But, man, was I guilty of trying to head off criticism by anticipating every possible negative thing someone might think while watching.

Since my video isn't so much a gear demo as me composing a song on a hardware array I've been experimenting with (big nod to the micronaut live-in-studio videos), I was trying for a bit of finesse, not just showing cool presets I built or selling something. So especially my reflexive self-deprecation was doing me no favors. It isn't that I honestly believe that my gear & performance are all that crap. First, the gear may not be rare or enviable but the setup/chain is of possible interest (plus whatever, how's it sound?). Second, the performance isn't simply the first thing I captured. Beyond deleting a lot of takes because some key element was just too far off for me to live with, I could've captured many variations on the same performance. And there would always be something that I could do 'better' no matter how practiced I was. (When the cat made his cameo I decided that was a good place to wrap.)

We musicians and 'producers', we're rarely 100% pleased with our performance or technical accomplishment. There's always that one part we nailed during rehearsal but didn't really work on stage, or I should have mixed the kick down a little and put less compression on the bass, and damn, we nailed it that time except for the ending which was really sloppy; or, my favorite, what was that setting/signal path again? But, indeed, it doesn't make any sense to point this out and moreover is actively self-defeating.

Perfectionism is dull to most everyone but the perfectionist. But even more dull is someone who needs to qualify everything with a defensive posture of 'I know it sucks.' Because we all know, dude, that you don't really think that, you just don't know how to handle criticism.

Anyway, here's the video link []

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