If She’s Pretty and Asian… She’s Probably a Computerized Virtual Composite

You can stare. But you can't touch.

NOTE: Made a video about this. Watch it!

So you’re trying to sell some candy in Japan (Glico’s Ice Nomi), and you sign  a pop band that appears to be an SNL parody of Gorgeous Tiny Chicken Machine Show (see “fun fact” at end).

Sales are up, but you decide you could sell another 30% of your little sweet and sour confections if only you had a hotter chick endorsing it. Sadly, you’ve picked the best available based humans on in-depth studies of the physical traits that arouse boys and girls… and a DNA composite will set you back two years.

So, duh, you manufacturer a virtual girl, compiled from a composite of the existing girls of the AKB48 band, and you call her it Aimi Eguchi. How much harder can that be than manufacturing virtual candy? Sure news will slip that she’s a fake (see how-to below), but most people won’t know or care. And perhaps weirder than the story itself is this quote from Channel News Asia:

Although Eguchi is not a real person, some observers say she possesses the purest essence of what an idol is – a completely artificial persona created by putting together the traits that fans love the most.

But is that true? I think not. To truly generate the “trait fans love most,” I would suggest turning this “make your own creepy avatar” feature into a “pick your favorite facial features” algorithm. Go ahead and make your own if you have patience for apparently hologram graphics, Japanese text, and music that makes my ears bleed.

Watch the video below at :50 to see how they composited this virtual star.

This girl is not real. I repeat. This girl is not real.

Fun Factoid: Kim Evey plays the host on Gorgeous Tiny Chicken Machine Show, is the producer of The Guild (Felicia Day), and is the virtual wife of Greg Benson (MediocreFilms). Here’s her debut, where Benson had his Hollywood friends create Evey v1.2 (at the time she was called XB09-23).

Gentle Promo in Daily Videos

One of the benefits of having a daily vlog channel (see definition below), is you can drop in subtle product placements or promotions for friends — but still do proper sponsored videos on the core channel. See as an example today’s Unclenalts video (a 356-day vlog channel, dubbed “YouTube Orbit.”

I wanted to plug Daisy Whitney’s new book Mockingbirds, but make something marginally entertaining. So we focused on our little party tricks, and Daisy got a book plug in. Rhett and Link did the same thing (they also mentioned Beyond Viral, my book).

Many top YouTubers have secondary channels for daily video blogs (vlogs), mostly for their core audience who want to see more “behind the scenes” and enrich their parasocial relationships. Some (like shaytards) become bigger than the YouTuber’s primary account.

Go buy Daisy’s book here. She clearly has a better shot as a novelist than doing party tricks for children parties (which is my backup plan).

Best Online-Video of 1986 and 2010

If you know Greg Benson, Mediocrefilms and Mediocrefilms2, then you’ll squeal with delight in discovering this vintage piece. It’s a training video for an upscale fast-food restaurant (or downscale real restaurant). I’m not naming the company name because I’d hate for them to ask for it to be removed. It’s vintage Greg… before the hair loss and hair transplant.

Rush to 3:52 to learn about Greg’s, I mean Craig’s, trepidation with upsells.

Flip Cam Alternative in JVC Picsio?

A month ago while on vacation in Florida I discovered I had forgotten my Canon HV30. I panicked.

I searched my laptop case (a giant man purse) for a Flip cam to hold me over. Note how easy it is to say “flip cam” instead of “small video camera.” No luck. On a trip to Best Buy I look at the Flips, but I continue to be frustrated by Flip’s price rigidity. Instead of bringing any legacy model close to the $100 point (I’m the guy that would own five of them for that price), they keep adding features and pushing past the $200. At $200 it’s a rival to larger but much better $300-$500 cameras. At $100 (or even $150) it’s an impulse buy and almost disposable.

Having been duped by Sylvania’s “Poor Man’s Flip Cam,” I would not go that route again.

So I tried out the JVC Picsio because of a significant sale ($150 if I recall, off a $199 ARP) and the super strong endorsement from the Best Buy dude. Not Billy this time. I was in Florida.

A worthy competitor to Flip in my book, but not according to Amazon raters...

Pros:

  • As small as Flip, but I believe the picture quality is as good or better. You can go 720 or 1080, and in good lighting it looks like a $500 camera.
  • I was afraid the JVC Picsio wouldn’t play nicely with my Mac, and I’d need software to convert. Surprisingly the files were .mov files and ready to roll into iMovie.
  • It takes photos and they’re pretty decent. I’ve learned not to get lured by megapixel promises… consider these pretty nice for a discount video camera ($150 would get you far more in a digital still camera).
  • You can find the price online even lower (see Amazon).
  • It’s very small and goes in the pocket easily. We took some cool swamp footage I can’t remember if I posted! Wait- I didn’t, did I?
  • I like to toggle between photo and video camera easily. It confuses the victim, however.

Cons:

  • It got slammed on Amazon’s reviews, so I wouldn’t have purchased it had I known that. But my experience wasn’t as severe as theirs.
  • No USB plug: you’d be surprised how that seemingly trivial miss can be so frustrating.
  • The playback sound (camera’s speaker) it almost inaudible. Like the Flip, no external mics welcome. Indoors without ambience, it did well. Cars not so much.
  • The power button is hard to use (quite annoying to dig fingernail multiple times to turn off/on), and the navigation is more complex. It began recording in my pocket a few times.
  • Apparently when the battery dies, it’s a paperweight.
  • Some people claim the images are not as steady, but again I was happy with what I got for $150 on an impulse buy.

Would I buy it again? I suppose if I didn’t already own a bunch of Flips (the Hello Kitty one is still my fav), I might have instead sprung for the Flip Mino to give it a try. As I recall, Greg Benson (mediocrefilms) shot this Yearbook parody video with it (amazing). For another $50 or $100 I’d like to see how it compares directly to the JVC Picsio and other portable cameras.

Here’s some footage I shot with it. What do you think?

Bottom Line:

  • I am surprised at Flip’s ability to dominate the market and hold on high prices ala Mac. It’s a great innovation, but I keep expecting for a Canon, JVC, Sony or other manufacturer to come out with a $100 Flip killer. Not yet.
  • As long as Flip keeps innovating (and allowing older models to hit that $100ish level) it may continue to dominate the ultra portable market, and I noticed the bold advertising campaign has continued even post Cisco acquisition. I do wish it would use actual amateur video in its ads instead of the awkwardly over produced simulated amateur clips. Again Flip resembles Mac in its advertising: slick, cool, musical.

P.S. If you Flip peeps wants to loan me the newest (UltraHD or this brushed-steal gen 2 Mino) for a head-to-head trial against the JVC Piscio I’ll gladly take the challenge and return the camera. I’d shoot simultaneous shots of the Flip and JVC (recording in the same conditions at same time), then post them on my daily vlogs on YouTube (unclenalts). Just hit me at kevinnalts at gmail (if I don’t reply immediately, don’t hesitate shooting again).

Even Water Heater Installations Can Be Interesting

Leave it to Greg Benson (mediocrefilms) to make a water-heater installation interesting… with sophomoric pranks and a bikini dancer. And Fast Water Heater stumbles into more effective use of online video than many leading consumer-packaged goods, hotel and technology brands. I spoke with Benson last night, and he wasn’t paid for this. But as a marketer, I’d estimate it’s value at $10K plus.

See folks. You don’t need a huge agency, creative brief and media buy to distinguish your brand or small business online. Just a little luck… having a customer with a camera, sense of humor, and a big audience on YouTube. Oh- I heard you like baby and cat videos.

Internet’s Most-Viewed Live Hair Transplant

Well now I’ve seen everything. It seems Greg Benson, the follicularly challenged brains behind MediocreFilms has selected Earth’s best hair-transplant doctor to update his Bosley transplant (see video). With more than 13,000 live viewers via the Internet, this would indeed make hair-transplant history.

Dr. Alan Bauman, who you may know as SurgeonOfNalts, did the work… and now it’s a race to the finish. Will Nalts (me), the YouTube personality who once pitched Propecia, have the best hairline of 2010? Or will Greg? In a great moment of irony, Benson’s sporting the old Propecia mirrors. Ah, the days that we pharmaceutical firms could give out tissue boxes, pens and mirrors. Those were the days.

Benson made me proud when he, like perhaps every male transplant candidate, made the obligatory joke when one of Bauman’s peeps warned him about the loud, wet and cold cleansing-wash machine. It’s funny because it’s predictable, like his inclination to yell “bye MiniMi” before he runs over midgets.

Nearly 3500 new follicles (which represent a few hairs each) may be a record for a minimally invasive (no surgical slice) transplant. Dr. B uses a NeoGraft to do follicular unit extraction (FUE). Cutting edge that’s so cutting edge, it doesn’t require a cutting edge. Here’s a photo of Benson, with wife Kim Evey (producer of TheGuild and star of Gorgeous Tiny Chicken Machine Show).

Go, Greg. As YouTube funnyman Mark Day exposed, there are some side effects as I well know. Here’s some footage I just found that someone took of my live Internet broadcast during treatment, and here’s my summary video called “Hair Transplant Fun.”

Also worth watching are the educational videos we both did. Here’s my conversation with Bauman (which summarizes the steps in 5 minutes), and here’s Benson/Bauman talking about the entire procedure. Benson said he slept like a baby after his transplant, which is not what he experienced years before with the traditional surgery from Bosley. In a sequel to Alan’s interview, the duo speak about how even a year ago this 3K plus process wouldn’t have been possible, and about the recovery phase. After 6 months, you don’t notice much, but by 10-12 months you’ll see 90%.

Benson and I spoke recently, and are just gaga over this experience. In my Merck/Propecia capacity, I had lots of insights on the best hair-transplant surgeons. When I asked people who they’d chose, Bauman’s name came up constantly. We both know why.

Benson did it for his acting career, and I did it because 3 years working on a medication that treats hairloss will make you somewhat self conscious.

With all of this buzz, one can only hope that hair-transplants don’t need to be secrets (more on this on my http://www.hairofnalts.com blog). Some of the film and television actors and actresses you love have had these procedures, but you wouldn’t know it. Why?

  1. They don’t talk about it because they feel it would hurt their image.
  2. The doctors can’t reference their celebrity patients… unless they’re weblebrities who chose to take themselves a bit less seriously.

Farting Santa and eGuiders Gentleman’s Competition

Check out Edbassmaster’s Farting Santa below… we even get to watch Bob Saget’s reaction.

What’s your favorite video of the week?

I just started to volunteer identify videos for eGuiders (see my profile). My 3 picks:

  • I found Mediocrefilm’s Greg Benson‘s picks and I’ll watch anything he favorites EVER based on these. Cried laughing at one of my favorite videos ever (a French journalist who can’t hold back his laughter in a wonderfully awkward moment with some sex-change peeps).
  • Obama Girl’s Ben Relles picks? Not as good. Sorry Ben.
  • Rhett and Link found a nice duo.
  • Director John Landis had a Michael Jackson pick and a nice remix-movie-trailer site.
  • Shira Lazar chose a Twitter parody, but I didn’t click it. There’s nothing I haven’t heard.
  • Chris Pirillo picked his own video, which is TOTALY cheating.
  • I appear occasionally on “This Week in Media” with Tim Street, so I wasn’t surprised to see he had two good picks.
  • And where the heck is Daisy Whitney?

So I’m thinking eGuiders will work better if people update their picks, and if there’s an incentive to find really good stuff. So I’d like to publicly encourage eGuiders to determine a way for us to compete. Let the viewers decide if our picks suck or if we become a Ninja eGuider. Just figure out a way (beyond me) to not have it become a popularity contest, because then Relles will kick my ass no matter how dull his picks are.

P.S. How come a “Nalts” search on Google doesn’t produce real-time Twitter results like some other people?

Retarded Policeman “Creative Feud” Kills Show

retarded-title

In a creative & financial dispute that began early this year, the people behind YouTube’s popular The Retarded Policeman series recently brought their feud to “court of public opinion.” Mediocrefilm‘s Greg Benson created the show with his wife Kim Evey (who produces The Guild, staring Felicia Day), and hired “Ponce” Perry, who stars as the, well, retarded policeman. Benson also hired Ponce’s brother Scott, who appeared in the first episode, and helped write and direct a few episodes, including the one in which I appeared (so it’s been removed).

Here’s the blow-by-blow:

  • The first episode appeared in September 2007. The most-recent posted video, posted last November (2008), was “Lt. Ballsack” and ironically stars Benson getting pulled over by Ponce.
  • In April, the Perry brothers created the Ponceman account.
  • Five of the episodes have been removed (including the one in which I appeared) because Scott participated in the writing or directing. The rest of the episodes, according to Benson, are his.
  • The DVD is still for sale. Get ’em while they last, folks.
  • The Perry brothers first created a video about the feud, and posted details on their blog. They claim there was an agreement between them and Benson: “We had an agreement with mediocrefilms that has not been honored.  Since the beginning of this year we have tried to work things out but, regrettably, we have reached an impasse. We cannot allow our work on the series to be exploited any longer without our original agreement being honored and all of our attempts to “work something out” with mediocrefilms have been fruitless.”
  • Greg Benson responded to the Perry Brother’s claims in this video, and on his blog. Benson said they had no agreement, and that he paid the brothers thousands of dollars.  He said he offered them various compromises, but was ignored when he requested the Perry brothers to propose terms that would satisfy them.
  • Neither is providing specifics of the terms, and whether the Perry brothers had a “work for hire” or revenue-sharing arrangement.

This debate, only recently brought public, was part of the reason I suggested TheStation (The Station is Doomed) will run into a similar snag. Parenthetically, check out thehill88 and brookers, who provided some informally entertaining responses to that video on their superlazerz channel).

Alas, it’s extremely difficult to collaborate on a channel and share YouTube proceeds, because it’s nearly impossible to determine who contributed to a channel’s success… was it the promotion, producing, writing, acting, directing, editing?

This is the first significant and public feud over ownership rights of a web-video show, and that’s maybe the most surprising piece of news.

So how can you reduce the chances you’ll find yourself in a sad, creative/financial snag like these guys? Get something in writing… the more money a channel earns, the more people will feel cheated unless terms are explicit. Is it 50/50 or are the actors simply paid a flat fee and/or some small percentage of revenue?

It’s no secret I’m a big fan of these guys, and I’m saddened to see them disputing, especially in public. Benson’s Mediocrefilms channel, one of the most-subscribed, continues to monetize the bulk of the episodes. Ponceman‘s channel has a fraction of the following with about 28,700 subscribers.

If there was (as the Perry brothers claim) an agreement that wasn’t honored, would they have a recourse in YouTube? Or does the video-sharing site have no responsibility here?

Perhaps a YouTube community member will volunteer their services to arbitrate. The show was brilliantly conceived and executed, and we can only hope it will return in some form. We can dream the impossible dream, right?

Short Visit to West Coast Online-Video Junkee with “LA Blue Balls”

Yeah I went to LA for one day, and it was the biggest tease of my online-video life! I have LA blueballs.

The near climax was getting to meet Punchy from WaverlyFilms, Captain from ClipCritics and my favorite YouTube weblebrities… but not having enough time to play! There was a spontaneous dinner on Wednesday night, and before I had the chance to spill a second beer, Chuck Potter (who is making a film about YouTube) was kind enough to whisk me to LAX to catch the red eye back to PA.

I’ve got to get back to LA soon, and inject myself into all of my favorite webshows as a lowlife extra – I had a near miss with TomBoys and Freddy Nager, with whom I’ve been dying to collaborate. And I didn’t even get to see Mickipedia Micki or my Revver peeps.

I did have a chance to appear in an episode of “The Retarded Policeman.” You’ve never been on a cooler shoot in your life. Ponce (Josh Perry) was so kind and gentle, and far from the insulting character he plays.

I can’t remember if he’s really got Down’s and he’s faking as a cop, or if it’s the other way around. But either way, I’ve gone from fan to superfan. His brother (who appears in episode one) directs him with precision and tough love that only a big brother can provide. In a future episode, The Retarded Policeman insults me, kisses me and then slaps me. The Nalts is,  of course, shocked and trying to explain that I’m a weblebrity who wasn’t drunk driving but “vlogging while driving.” I don’t want to give away anymore of Greg Benson’s hysterical script, but I hope he will indulge me on this sneak preview from the script.

“Oh, I recognize you. You’re the cup of shit from two girls and a cup.”

Comedic gold. Benson (MediocreFilms) is one of the best producers/directors I’ve seen in action, and that’s his voice (straight and falsetto) in TRP’s opening song. The MediocreFilms model is brilliant. It’s bursting with simplicity and humor, and production costs are minimized (they used a foam white board to bounce light on this shoot).

unicorn cowI had never seen Greg’s “Gorgeous Tiny Chicken Machine Show” until last night, and I’m hooked. Last night I watched the entire series with my 4-year-old Charlie, who was quick to say “that was a short one” or “we already watched that one.” The perverted humor is subtle enough that a child can watch it without too much brain damage. Whether he’s 4 or 40. See Ron Jeremy’s appearance in this episode, or check out this hysterical one that’s a personal favorite.

Have you ever seen anything that’s as funny as that cutaway of the Unicorn Cow’s sad face when he donates his spleen to make Steak Tartar? Honestly, have you? And have you ever seen Internet-video acting as good as the chef’s (who is that guy, Greg, and when can I appear in costume on the show!?)

This stuff is so good it makes me want to stop making videos and start watching them more.