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Why you should not do "video responses" on youtube

 1:09 am on Sep 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

So, you're on youtube and you just watched someone's video saying something controversial, and now your knickers are all knotted. Don't flick on the camera and start filming your rebuttal. Stop, take a few breaths, and heed this advice.

Why you probably shouldn't do a "video response".

  • you're not as photogenic as you think

  • you're not as eloquent as you think

  • the dulcet vocals you hear in your head are actually a whiny screech to everyone else

  • the incandescent lighting in your bedroom makes you look jaundiced.

  • you're probably just pointing out the obvious. Do we need that?

  • the flake who posted the original video is probably just trolling. Why else would they rant on youtube? They want attention. You, by replying, are being an enabler. If they get lots of hits and replies to their video, they'll make more, and more, and more...

  • have you read the comments on those youtube videos? it's like they went to a perverted idiot illiterate toddler convention and handed out keyboards. honestly, it's beyond puerile into the realm of pathetic. This is the audience to whom you are preaching.

Tips for doing a "video response"

Before you film

  • write a script, or at least a point-form outline of what you're going to say. Practice it once. Nothing makes you seem more like a dolt than trying to congeal complex thoughts while the camera's running. Sometimes writing down what you're going to elocute will illustrate that you aren't really saying much.

  • Imagine that this video will be shown to your boss at work, your mother, your uncle Bucky and your highschool music teacher. 5 years from now, when you're shortlisted for a job interview and they search your name, this video will show up. Think whether you want this to be your legacy.

  • know that this is not going to increase your perceived level of dignity

If you still want to do it,

  • make "eye contact" with the camera

  • Don't say "um" or scratch yourself or play with your hair or any of those other nervous tics

  • wash your face and maybe apply a light powder so you aren't so shiny. adjust the lighting. frame the shot, and all that cinematographer crap.

  • brush or style your hair, and put on clean-looking clothes

  • take many, many takes. If you have to, use bits and pieces to edit together one that doesn't make you look like a fool

  • We can see your personal pleasure device on the bedside table in the background. For the love of regis, tidy up - or throw up a backdrop!

[edited by: jatar_k at 12:14 pm (utc) on Sep. 21, 2008]



 2:10 am on Sep 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

Is a video response a way to piggyback on someone else's popularity?


 10:06 am on Sep 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

That's a fantastic summary, Httpwebwitch. I'm not planning to do a rebuttal, but I have been wondering whether video is a better way to present some types of content. But I've always been daunted by the preparation involved, for most of these reasons. TV presenters make it look simple, but it's not something everyone can do well.


 12:02 pm on Sep 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

I have been wondering whether video is a better way to present some types of content

Yes - but only some types of content.

There is currently a fashion for gratuitous video where it would be better to present the information as text, which can be indexed by the search engine and scanned by the visitor in seconds (rather than having to wait two minutes for the point to be conveyed).

I've always been daunted by the preparation involved

Don't be put off - it is perfectly possible to make good web videos with a laptop and a webcam as long as you follow the excellent tips given above by httpwebwitch (particularly the ones that come under "all that cinematographer crap").

Once you get used to setting up your shot it is all about performance (which can be rehearsed), and as most people will only be using one camera there will usually be very little editing involved.

The only thing I would add to "If you still want to do it" is "don't waste a second of screentime".



 1:43 pm on Sep 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

video is an excellent medium for origami tutorials. And skateboarding FAILs.

It's not so good for posting blog comments, arguments, debates... When was the last time you saw a "video response" of someone talking into the camera, and actually watched the whole thing? Or, at all?


 10:31 am on Sep 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

Video is great for CERTAIN things, like demo'ing a product (great sales tool), does more than photos ever can.

But for most web content sites, it's a TERRIBLE idea and these sites that think it's trendy to try to turn themselves into little wannabe news networks are just disappearing from my Favorites list VERY quickly of late.

Tom's Hardware is (was as far as I'm concerned now) one of the worst offenders. They link to what look like regular stories (don't even label them as videos) from their homepage... then when you click on an interesting headline, you get the ubiquitous Flash player... and if you grit your teeth and put up with the rubbish graphics and amateur 'presenters' trying to be funny, you lose 10 mins of time (and 100MB of bandwidth) to absorb some info that would have occupied two paragraphs and 30 seconds of time. Plus you missed the damn picture that was the interesting bit anyway.


People visiting websites expect to find written information. This is the nature of computers and the internet and will be for a long time. It is one of the reasons of the success of the internet (and libraries hmmn? think about it). To all these nuts with cheap HD handycams, Premiere Lite, too much time, and NOT ENOUGH TV training: hey, guess what, I can read 10x faster than you can talk - learn how to write!


 3:11 pm on Sep 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

I think the same can be said for text content (there is a lot of bad content out there). But guess what? We live in a free society and it is somehow condescending of us telling others not to do "whatever." While I may not tolerate one more minute of Paris Hilton but there are millions others who will digest every bit of "no news" on her.

Personally I like to believe that everyone should have the freedom to express themselves and no one has a right to tell them not to. The only right we have is not to watch it. Plus tastes of one should not dictate the tastes of others. We are so over the era when a few told the rest what to do.


 3:27 pm on Sep 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

* watch what is in the background - maybe you can right down the hallway to where the toilet seat is up...


 3:41 pm on Sep 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

What - nobody is "telling others what to do". Don't be so sensitive. There's nothing wrong with critiquing what people do, it's not the same as saying they can't (or even shouldn't) do it.

Besides, all publishers (including the YouTube talking web-heads) respond to perceived demand. You can affect that perception, and perhaps the demand itself, with criticism and commentary. Media is a conversation.


 3:42 pm on Sep 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

P.S. My first post above comes under the "rant" classification. And should be treated as such.


 2:46 am on Sep 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

- you're not as photogenic as you think
- you're not as eloquent as you think

Speak for yourself! I give Obama a run for his money :)


 6:57 am on Sep 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

if you worry to much about what other people think, you won't reach your full potential. There will always be people who say you aren't photogenic, eloquent, or innovative. Don't spend time trying to make the videos perfect for these naysayers. Just do it. So long as you're getting more viewers over time, it's a worthwhile endeavor.

My one piece of advice: keep it short at the start. 1:00 max.


 7:13 pm on Sep 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

I would hope that a majority of people do NOT follow the advice of "httpwebwitch".

Youtube is what it is, and most of the fun (such as it is) is seeing what "normal" people, who aren't cinematographers come up with.

If I wanted professional, rehearsed "news" I'd go to a well-established news site or even TV station for that.

That said, I don't get into the whole "video response" thing. However, my sister really enjoys it. She puts one up every other night regarding some soap opera or nighttime drama that she watches.

I don't personally care for it, but she gets a lot of viewers, who then follow her to her site where they discuss even further. It's not something I could ever do (I hate being on video or even photos of myself!) but it really works for her. I have to admit I'm impressed.

She doesn't rehearse, and yeah sometimes the lighting is hosed, and sometimes her face is shiny, and there's a whole lotta junk sometimes in the background, and she screws up the pacing (she's a fast talker), but people subscribe to them and ask for more.

I wouldn't want her or all the people having fun with this to ever change her process to fit someone else's view of how a video "should" look. What a bunch of sterile, boring videos that would be.

I've certainly been guilty of feeling condescending toward the whole youtube crowd. But really, it doesn't do me any harm at all, so let others have their fun with it.

If anything, I'm way more upset with the trend that badbadmonkey was describing. All these "video tutorials" and what not wasting my time when they could have wrote it up into 2 pages with far less preparation. Plus the fact that I read far quicker than most of these people talk, it's a huge waste of time.

travelin cat

 7:52 pm on Sep 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

All these "video tutorials" and what not wasting my time when they could have wrote it up into 2 pages with far less preparation.

Some times video tutorials are much better then text. As an example, I would rather watch a [good] video of someone installing RAM then read it.


 9:47 pm on Sep 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

I wonder how many of the gazillion web surfers actually spend much time with youtube or other video based sites... er... we know "millions" do, but what percentage of ALL is that number? Personally I don't waste time on these, even when the subject might interest me and others send me links. Bandwidth is not the issue...quality is and all TOO MANY of the youtube vids are so low res unappealing (and time wasting) I don't bother. I suspect I'm not the only one who feels that way.

HOWEVER, I DO watch streaming video of good to high quality that interests me from more professional sources, so I guess that makes me a youtubephobe. :)


 10:18 pm on Sep 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

One of the best reasons for making a video response is the limited amount of space allocated for text comments. You get 255 characters. That's not much room for a well thought out reply/rebuttal. If you use video you can pack a lot more info into your reply/rebuttal.


 5:43 pm on Oct 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

How about the audio playback feature they have on comments now. It gives some people an opportunity to hear just how stupid their comments are before they hit submit.


 6:35 pm on Oct 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

The audio preview feature is really quite a joke in my opinion.

I post a lot of well-thought-out comments on YT and still the few times I've tried the audio preview it makes me seem like exactly like what YT is trying to prevent: me looking like a total moron! :)

As with so many voice systems the words all run together. There's no pause between the end of one word and the start of the next. Combine that with the amateurish Microsoft Sam voice and I just don't see how this feature is useful to anyone, except perhaps a visually disabled person.

The audio preview feature was sort of added as a joke. The guy who draws the wildly popular web comic, "xkcd", published a strip a week or so before this feature was unveiled about how forcing an audio preview would help people seem less "moronic" than they normally do. It was really quite funny. :)

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