“There’s something about reading your own quote in print that makes you believe your own BS,” said Kevin Nalts on his blog today. A recent article in StreamingMedia quoted a few of my observations on production quality and how important it is in web video popularity and views:
- “…We’re still at a point where production value doesn’t matter that much; in fact, it can hurt you if you overproduce,” says Kevin Nalty, a top YouTube producer known as Nalts. “There’s a certain level of resentment towards the people on YouTube who are trying to have the perfect shot and the perfect lighting. It suddenly makes them seem like they’re better than everyone else, and the video can come off as more commercial, more canned, and less authentic.”
- “I try to work on my production quality, but it’s not a high priority,” says Nalty. “I don’t give a crap about lighting, and I’ll put my camera on a tissue box to get a shot. Where I work hard is on the editing and timing because that’s what can harm videos. I probably spend zero time planning a video, 10 minutes shooting it, and an hour or so editing it. And I think that’s kind of right, though maybe I should spend less time planning. I’m not like Hitchcock, drawing up a storyboard. I’d never start if I did it that way.”
Let’s look at the proof… who’s the most popular YouTuber right now? Fred. And his production is horrible. It’s what you’d expect from a teenage kindergartner. Now move down the list on the top 10 subscribers, and you’ll find the same is true with Nigahiga, KevJumba, and Sxephil. Of course, HappySlip and Smosh put a bit more care into their shots, but that’s because they’re plots not stories.
Here’s the common denominator of the top YouTube channels… they’re people not production or film studios. People subscribe to people.
While Universal and Machinima are exceptions, the general rule is that the relationship between the creator and his/her audience is far more critical than editing, lighting and scripts. This is why, I believe, iChannel, PopTub and ClipCritics have fewer subscribers than they may deserve. I too have had less luck with storylines, webseries, reviews or sketch comedy. I’m much more likely to get views by pulling a prank or acting like an idiot in public.
As the industry matures, we’ll see fewer “vloggers” as the top talent, but there will always be a place for people who have interesting personalities, stories and connection with their audience. It’s true online, and it’s always been true in television and film. We see most movies because we like the star not because of the director or plot. And certainly not because we saw the cinematographer was our favorite.
My third-most viewed video (Scary Maze) took less time to shoot, edit and post than it took you to read this blog post. And that’s not because you’re a slow reader.