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Video: The Next Renaissance

This is a guest post from Byron Evans, Owner of Wallop Video

Why do millions of people watch a cat playing the keyboard? We do (and let’s face it we all have) because we can, we can watch whatever we want, whenever we want, pretty much anywhere. Thanks to laptops, cameras, smart phones and tablets. It wasn’t that long ago that we were regaling the benefits of the LP function on VCR machines, now look how far we have come.

The advent of faster broadband speeds, social media multi platforms and high quality user friendly equipment allow us all to become story tellers through video. From a flash mob singing in a London train station to a woman dying in a riot in Iran we consume it with an unrelenting appetite.

There are billions of hours of video available to view online, 35 hours of video content is uploaded to YouTube every minute, 2 billion videos are viewed on YouTube every day and 13 million hours of video was uploaded to YouTube in 2010. Impressive statistics especially when you consider how highly regarded viewer counts, comments and subscriptions are as the fundamental measurements of success in the video world. That is just one video sharing site, it is the major player but of course there are others like Vimeo which although not as familiar with the masses, has a mass appeal especially with those who are a little more advanced with their production skill sets.

An instant dismissive criticism of this vast quantity of user uploads is that the majority of the content – is let’s be honest – rubbish. It serves no real purpose other than being a distraction, welcomed or not. It’s just a quagmire of flickering drivel that appeals to the creatively slow and simple natured folk.

Wrong. It’s like a giant sale rail at TK MAXX, on the face of it an over laden, jumbled mess of colour and texture. But have a good root around and it’s not long before you discover some real gems. Take a step back and you’ll notice what other people are looking for, what are stylish reoccurring favourites and what are trendy flash in the pans.

I think it would be an error to simply dismiss the plethora of irrelevant and irreverent video as useless; it is a fascinating pool of research.  Decades of studying the development of cinema and television crammed into a crash course. It’s a simple evolutionary process; getting familiar with the kit, the trial and error of constructing a good story, the self teaching of filming techniques and finding your audience.

The flip side to the rampant video mosh pit are the businesses that are using videos online to not only sell you stuff but be your BFF. T Mobile’s online presence is continually boosted by the power of their clever viral video campaigns; the new Angry Birds Live is a cracker. Old Spice just got dragged out of the 80’s courtesy of millions of potential new customers, online. Working alongside traditional advertising video is becoming more adaptable and versatile at engaging with the consumer. Instead of being an expensive one off tool video is now being used to complement campaigns, work in collaboration and get out there faster than ever before. This is not exclusive to commercial sectors but just as rife in media editorial outlets.

Turn on the TV and you’re likely to see camera phone footage of a gun battle in the Middle East on the news or a webcam sound bite from a war torn nation. Hollywood, not to be left out, has made a film using amateur videos. Kevin McDonalds Life in A day is a feature film made from over 15 thousand hours of video made by citizen film makers from 192 countries around the globe, recording as the title suggests a snap shot of the world in one day.

It doesn’t matter if audiences don’t become more sophisticated in their viewing habits and clamber to watch animated babies fart in the bath. We are only just getting to grips with the capabilities video can offer. Call me an old romantic but we really could be in the early stages of another creative renaissance and let’s face it video is so much easier to consume than actually having read something. I would say that because we are video hustlers for the online generation.

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