Skyrim Homage: One Voice. One Violin. Epic Video.

Yes, Virginia. You can still go viral… if you have an original idea and push production to a new level. It also helps to pay tribute to a popular video game.

Here’s a video homage to Skyrim Elder Scrolls (a video game), an epic video that’s been seen more than a million times in the past few days. It features 120 tracks of Peter Hollens‘ voice and Lindsey Stirling‘s violin. The musicians are also the video’s actors, and the video was shot in Provo, Utah late last month. As one YouTube commenter states, “why is this not the most watched video of all time?

The duo began tracking the song in early March, and it helped that Hollens is friends with Larry Kenton, the original arranger for the video game’s score.

“Over beer and some sushi we discussed Skyrim, and I asked if he thought it would be a good idea to cover it,” said Hollens. “Then I talked to Lindsey Stirling about doing it together; she is not just insanely talented but incredibly nice.”

Stirling’s friend, Devin Graham, shot the video using the new Canon EOS 5D Mark III camera, with a 18-35mm and the Glidecam 2000 pr thingy.  The video was edited in Final Cut Pro by Lindsey, and the special effects were done by Warialasky.

Stirling’s participation, said Hollen, surprised him. “It blew me away cause she’s the BIG wig, and that never happens on youtube…  She saw a video I did with another YouTuber, and wanted to work together. This when she had 300,000 subs and I had only about 15,000. That’s RARE nowadays.” Hollen’s subscription count has practically doubled in the past week, a direct result of the Skyrim video catching fire. It helps that Hollens has some other popular videos including this Katy Perry Fireworks cover.

Hollens told me he read my book too, so I’d like to take credit for the entire thing… seriously, though, see links below to learn more.

online video marketing youtube

Download the song off itunes
…or at this link

Peter Hollen’s channel

Devin Graham cinematography:
Warialiasky on special effects work.
This was their own arrangement of the main theme from Skyrim Elder Scrolls which was composed by Jeremy Soule.
Arr. Tom Anderson –
Edit: Ben Lieberman –
Mix: Bill Hare –

Peter and Lindsey on Facebook:

“Just Give Me a Damned Cigarette” : JibJab Goes Puppets for Year-End-Review

"Just Give Me A Damned Cigarette," sings Obama Puppet in the 2010 JibJab Review

One of the things that gets me through the holidays is the anticipation and enjoyment of JibJab’s annual year-end song parody. When Twitter rumors about CNN’s announcing Morgan Freeman’s death this week, I called JibJab’s Voice Jim Meskimen (website/on YouTube) to see if he’d do his classic Freeman impersonation. He did in this “Morgan Freeman is Alive” video, and it fooled many.

I’m a raving fan of Jim, who does virtually every voice you’ve heard on JibJab. (Go subscribe to him and you’ll see his Knestor learn ya about gift giving), and he tipped me off to the fact that the 2010 JibJab review is now out! You can also add your face to the first-ever JibJab stop action in “Santa Claus is Coming To Town.”

Check it out below, and notice it’s all puppets instead of the typical flash animation. JibJab took us behind the curtain with a step-by-step “behind scenes” blog. I can’t find what I’d hoped to see: Jim singing in the studio (there is a scratch music page that’s currently sparse).

I Wuv You (pig video)

I love you. No I WUV you. It’s a rainy Friday morning. What else are you going to do? Make a hypnotic and overly cute pig video with your wife’s sqeeked voice. Duh.

Here’s the song “i wuv you” and you have complete rights to use it anyway you wish. Download it, and let me know what you do with it!

Now kids pay attention. This is a desperate attempt to manufacture viral, and comes with great risks. The goal was to squeeze as much cute into 52 seconds, but ensure I spent no more than 1 hour between concept and upload (and that’s counting the custom score). You know my rule… time spent on a video is inversely related to views (my Scary Maze, shot in 25 minutes, is at 23 million). At least I’m transparent.

Best Cartoon Voice in History: TreeTrunks on Adventure Time

I hope you know by now I’m rather infatuated with voice characterizations (Jim Meskimen as new Mel Blanc). Meet the best new voice impressionist ever: Polly Lou Livinston, tapped by animator Pen Ward, 27.

Ward, who created the recently launched CartoonNetwork show, “Adventure Time With Finn and Jake” (a bland name for a quirky, unique and delightful cartoon series, fueled by the proven success of Producer Fred Seibert). Wait! (4/23 update): Correction: Polly Lou is not Pen Ward’s mom, but an artist from his San Antonio origin: “Pen, no doubt, has fond memories of hearing Polly Lou’s definitive drawl while growing up in San Antonio. And who can blame him? Somewhere between a hinge in quest of lubricant and Blanche Dubois as channeled by Olive Oyl, there’s no other tonality quite like it.”

"Adventure Time" creator Pen Ward with his Polly Lou Livingston (not his mother, Bettie). Livingston, an artist, does the voice of TreeTrunks the yellow elephant.

“Adventure Time” creator, Ward, also does the voice of “Lumpy Princess,” a manly valleygirl princess who looks like Chowder’s pet fart. But his mom steals the show with her characterization of TreeTrunks, and you can read more about her in this San Antonio article. The tender voice, gentle whispers and Southern draw were just the beginning. The tiny unexpected speech pragmatics (for instance, oddly timed pauses) is what brings her characters new dimension. Check out this wonderful clip (depicting “old and bonkers” TreeTrunks loving a wall-of-flesh creature). Seriously- a unicorn sticker with a unicorn that doesn’t have a horn? Ward and his Southern Mama bring out the 14 year old in me. Thanks, Seibert. I read you weren’t first impressed with Ward, but thank GOD you had faith.

Tree trunk adventure time elephant yellow
Tree Trunks for The Win

By way of background, my 7-year-old son Grant has always had a keen eye for quirky funny… and this goes back to his watching Baby Mozart as an infant (I think it was the frog that created a euphoric giggle). Grant can watch 20 minutes of television, and detect and replicate the single, isolated moment that is at the DNA core of hysterical. I don’t know how he does it, but he’s now our family’s comedy compass. When he cracks up and replays a moment of a cartoon or television show, the six of us are laughing simultaneously. Here’s Grant giggling from years ago that will help you understand that he’s is to comedy what a metal detector is for quarters on a beach. Who says “boring” about Goodnight Moon at that age? Seriously.

Grant’s favorite shows have one thing in common. They’re all born by Seibert (with the exception of Spongebob, a show I hated until Grant hooked me). Well this week Grant literally grabbed me and said “Dad you’re going to LOVE Adventure Time with Finn and Jake!” Then he started rolling with some quotes that I now get… “yogurt chip, yeah man (in soft, cool voice).”

He was soooo right. Yeah man. I’ve become rather obsessed with “Adventure Time” in the past week (check out a great backgrounder here, which details how BigTime Cartoon Producer Fred Seibert’s discovery of Ward is the best thing to happen to parent/kid television viewing in years). And Seibert, I’ll be sending you Grant’s resume in about 10 or 15 years, and volunteer him to act as a “litmus test” of any prospective shows.

It’s a rare show that amuses dad & kids this well (Modern Family is a recent new one but a bit blue for the kiddies). My fascination with this distinct Masterpiece called “Adventure Time” prompted me to dig and dig through YouTube, stumbling into this wonderful episode called Bravest Warriors. Wowzer is this a cross between the 60s and 10s!? Read a nice POV on this one-episode series. Sounds to me like Livingston is the alien voice, no?

Five words for Seibert, CartoonNetwork and Pen Ward:

Tree Trunks is voiced by Polly Lou Livingston, the Mother of Animator Pen Ward (the inspiration behind Adventure Time With Finn and Jake)

We need more TreeTrunk, baby.

Annoying Orange’s “Hey Apple” Creator

Meet Daneboe of Gagfilms, creator of the extremely popular “Annoying Orange” series. I interviewed him remotely in late 2007 for Metacafe Unfiltered, a short-lived “behind the scenes of popular creators.” Since he was in Florida, Freddy Nager suggested we do a homage to his popular “screaming eggs” video.

So when I saw his recent Superbowl video surging on YouTube, I went on a binge. Imagine me and my four kids laughing hysterically at the wonderfully sophomoric and simple concept: An orange annoys fellow fruits and vegetables, but always gets the last laugh when their rudeness is followed by their demise.

My favorite is episode three, featuring the Tomato that can’t be both a vegetable and a fruit.

Thanks to Dane for digging up the digital file, and allowing me to post it. 🙂

Understanding “Fred,” the Squeaky-Voice YouTube Star

Fred on youtubeFor weeks I’ve been perplexed by Fred, a squeaky-voice YouTube character played by Lucas Cruikshank (Fred’s real name). He caught my attention when I found him appearing in advertisements on my own videos. Lucas lives with 6 siblings in Nebraska, and has emerged as one of the fastest-growing YouTube personalities.

I couldn’t understand the Fred phenomenon and the best explanation anyone could provide (and I asked several of the most popular Tubers for their best theory) was that it’s what the key younger demographic wants. But that’s not an explanation, is it?

Alas I found this analysis by the Sydney Morning Herald, and it all makes perfect sense:

While many boys emerging from their tween years drift into the monosyllabic age of deep introspection and rebellion, the videos made by this teenager from Nebraska reflect a garrulous sense of childish fun.

So now I think I get Fred’s appeal. His manic moves and piercing voice may annoy me, but I understand why people are compelled to watch. The fast-paced and childish bits maybe allow people to forgive their own lack of maturity.

Anyway, I woke up this morning feeling compelled to impersonate Fred’s father. Of course, Fred’s father is in jail so maybe I’m his Uncle (which is ridiculous, but believable by many YouTubers that still think Dylan is my son). Anyway- would welcome ideas on where to go with it, as I’ve only watched a few of Fred’s videos. And if you’re a Fred fan, I could use any script tips that would ensure I dovetail off Fred’s plotline well enough.

What I’m thinking. Got ideas?

  • Fred’s Uncle explains why dad’s in jail. Maybe blames Fred.
  • The Uncle is squeaky voice too, but maybe it’s creepier. So I talk slow and deliberate before speeding up the voice.
  • There’s humor, but almost a playful sadness or dysfunction that’s revealed about Fred’s family- so we understand his behavior even more.

And I haven’t forgotten about the spoof of the paper car. 🙂 Thanks for your ideas on that!

Soundboard Prank: Dr. Phil Speaks to Survey Telemarketer

Heard of sound boards? Here’s one for Dr. Phil, where you can press various buttons to get some of his best soundbites. A new sport for the yougun’s today is the sound-board prank. Here’s a wonderful example that had me in stitches. It works so well because of the strong ego embedded in Dr. Phil’s tone that is such a stark contrast from what we might expect in a self-help guru.

Now enjoy the Spricket24 prank call, which was done by an amateur with a lot of patience. It’s fun to hear people baffled by an audio recording of a video that mentions you.