Favorite Online Sensation

I’ve never considered anything I’ve looked at online to be part of an online sensation, but I suppose there are certain websites I visit that fit that description.  Certain viral videos that get forwarded around could be considered an online sensation, I guess.  But what I consider an online sensation might vary greatly from what my co-workers, my family, and my friends consider to be an online sensation.

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, “a 43-minute musical film, initially produced exclusively for Internet distribution in 2008 tells the story of Dr. Horrible, an aspiring supervillain; Captain Hammer, his nemesis; and Penny, their mutual love interest,” won the People’s Choice award for Favorite Online Sensation earlier this year.  If you haven’t seen this little gem, check it out.  Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, among other things) came up with the idea with his brothers and a friend.  According to Wikipedia, “[t]he writing team penned the musical during the WGA writers’ strike. The idea was to create something small and inexpensive, yet professionally done, in a way that would circumvent the issues that were being protested during the strike.”  The video was released online as a miniseries in 3 parts.  After the success of the Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog online, it was released as a DVD with some fun extras, like “Commentary! The musical.”

As you may or may not be aware, Tweedee has been producing its own web video series called “Samie the Intern.”  The webisodes follow Samie’s adventures as she gains experience in video production.  You can watch this series on the Tweedee website by clicking on the News & Notes section of the Tweedee Guide and then going to More.  “Samie the Intern” webisodes are also available as video podcasts, free of charge, through iTunes.

Web video is a great way to get your message out to people.  It’s convenient to watch, and it puts you in control.  Unlike ad time on tv, you are not limited to 30-, 60-, or 120-second videos.  You also have more control over how you deliver your message – YouTube, your own website, a blog, or even through email.  Who knows?  Maybe your next video will become everyone’s new favorite online sensation.

Catch me if you can

Running toward the next big thing

Steve’s on vacation…

Hi there.  Gregg here.  Steve’s on vacation this week and it’s his turn to blog.  So, Sandy told me that I have to do it.  Like I have anything good to say!  Anyway, Steve is spending his much deserved vacation traveling in his home state of Pennsylvania.  He’s even going to attend his 20-year high school reunion.  You might think he’s crazy.  I don’t know – wasting some perfectly good vacation time to go back to high school?  Anyway, it’s his vacation.


Steve Donovan on vacation in Pennsylvania.

Steve Donovan on vacation in Pennsylvania.

Ironically, just before Steve left, I stumbled upon a great, web based video marketing campaign for the state of Pennsylvania.  It includes a series of videos based on one man’s search for a woman he’s had a crush on since vacationing in Pennsylvania as a teenager.  The main character, Peter Arthur (PA – get it?), travels throughout the state looking for Meg, a waitress who served him the best piece of shoofly pie he’s ever had.  I think he’s a little in love with Meg, too.  The videos are a great example of a clever, creative and entertaining way to get noticed on the web.  I give the state of Pennsylvania a lot of credit for going with this rather unique approach.

Just before Steve left I sent him the link to the Peter Arthur videos.  I hope he took the time to watch.  Otherwise, he’ll probably get stuck listening to an old high school buddy he barely knows talk about all of his ex-wives instead of enjoying his Pennsylvania vacation.  I’d hate for him to miss out on a piece of shoofly pie.  Or a look at Meg.

There’s a new kid in town.

          It seems like every other day we hear about a new video production company starting up.  Now, while many of these entrepreneurs are, no doubt, talented, hard working people, it’s relatively easy to get in the game.  For a few thousand dollars anyone can buy the proper equipment to shoot and edit HD-quality video, and post it on the web where the whole world can watch it.  The deal is, I can go out and buy all the professional-quality woodworking tools that I can afford, but that doesn’t make me a cabinetmaker.  And, if I actually could make a cabinet, I’m not sure I would want the entire web-world to see it.  So why would you want the new kids on the block to produce a sub-standard video for you that the whole world could see?

          (Promotional video on YouTube from an actual video production company.  Sorry guys.)         

          Experience is what sets us apart from the new guys (or gals).  I’ve worked for years as a “videomaker” and I can usually tell during almost any phase of a project whether or not the end product will be successful.  More often than not, a project is doomed in the conceptual stage because there is no concept.  Or, if there is no “meat” in the shooting stage, you will not magically end up with steak.  Too often, video producers think that projects can be rescued with flashy editing, over-produced music or fancy graphics.  “We’ll fix it in post” is a popular mantra for a producer not knowing what to shoot next to fix a continuity problem in the field.  Pushing buttons and recording video is relatively easy.  The hard part is assembling the proper elements into a cohesive, entertaining, and easy to understand story.


Gregg Schieve working as a video professional.

           So, am I going to retire and build cabinets in my garage?  No, I’ll leave the cabinet making up to the pros, although I probably could become a pretty good woodworker in 5 to 10 years.  Nope, I intend to continue using my skills to produce, quality, award winning video productions.  Your next video project will be an important reflection on the quality of your company, idea, product or even yourself.  Make it a good one.

communications breakdown…

i may not be the most prolific blogger or the funniest person on the web or the most informative, but because of facebook, twitter and my persistent friends i am becoming a new communicator.  i admit, i’m bad about making phone calls to my friends and family… it sometimes takes me a while to return personal emails… hey – i’m a busy person – as far as you know.
but now with facebook, twitter and other social sites i feel more connected.  i’m not sure when i exactly began to feel this way… but now i’m assimilated into the new media.

soon, within the year in fact, i can join the wave.  what’s the wave, you ask? its a new communications vehicle from google – the search engine people. the wave will be a hosted conversation/live typing tool/add people as you go instant message.  all waves will start at the google “hub”.  once you join the conversation wave you can add comments, just read along or start your own new wave of thought (but you don’t need to get the flock of seagulls haircut). google plans on being your common hub for the other social sites you belong to – just to keep it convenient.   now i’m no techno geek, so i don’t quite understand how it will all work…. come to think of it, neither does google at this point.   now i’m not sure if i want google to have access to all my social activities on the web.  i would like a bit of privacy – even if its just in my imagination.
but i am intrigued.

sandy kowal - trying to stay on top of things.

sandy kowal - trying to stay on top of things.

Let’s Rock

“Let’s use a punk rock song about sex & drugs to promote your company” was actually a successful pitch someone made to Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.

Most television commercials rely on music to provide a little something extra and to set the tone for what you are seeing.  But in almost any video production (whether it’s a traditional corporate image video or the theme song that rolls during the opening credits of your favorite TV show) the music is often intended to affect the mood of the viewer.

That’s why I loved this recent list posted on AdWeek.com about “The Five Worst (and Best) Ad Songs of All Time.” You’d think a song about sex, strippers, and heroin would not be high on the list of songs to use in an ad campaign.  But Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines thought it fit their brand just fine as they used the Iggy Pop punk rock classic “Lust for Life” in their national ad campaign.  I remember seeing this commercial for the first time and thinking:  “Are they seriously using this song?  Have they listened to the lyrics?  Do they know ‘Lust for Life’ is a reference to Iggy Pop’s lifestyle as a hard-living heroin addict?”

The list shares more absurd song choices for television ads such as Victoria’s Secret deciding that a good way to sell ladies undergarments was to have 68-year-old Bob Dylan creeping around singing to scantily dressed young models.

Many choices go into making any kind of video, but it’s amazing how a good music selection can really enhance the viewing experience, and a poor music selection can detract from the message of the video.

I guess that’s the message Simon Cowell is always preaching on American Idol when he lambasts singers for “poor song choice.”  In fact, all of the judges on American Idol harp on the importance of song choice.  They constantly remind the singers that the wrong song choice can eliminate them from the competition (before they even sing) if the song doesn’t fit their vocal style or the image they portray.

Choosing the right music is just one of the many decisions to consider when creating a video concept.  If you want people to focus on the message in your video, then decisions like the graphic look, the pace of the video, the choice of your on-camera spokesperson, etc. should all be taken into consideration before you move into the production phase.

By the way, for more humorous insights and commentary on the strange uses of music in advertising visit:  www.admusicheretic.typepad.com

Mac Chorlton/mac@tweedeeproductions.com