Web Video Edward Frank
August 26, 2009


Do you have videos online?  I would disagree about comparison between web videos and the professional videos on television.  The main point I think is the poor quality of the content of the documentaries as shown on television.  The images are beautiful and fit together perfectly, but for most of them they have been polished until the life is sucked out of them.  Most of them are visual equivalents of musak - elevator music for your eyes.  The content has been dumbed down till it tells you nothing.  There is more content in a second grade text book than most videos.  There also is the question of integrity of the documentary programs shown on television.  In certain famous historical documentaries, photos of different battles and event were mixed together in order to improve the story flow- accuracy be damned.  The stories of the cute baby foxes out on a day of exploration are typically mixtures of shots taken over the course of several weeks and edited to some editor's cutesy story line.  I will not get into a further rant on the current poor state of documentary on television and film, but only say that well edited and polished video does not a great documentary make.

I am not arguing that web videos are great.  Most of them are not.  There is a saying that 90% of everything is crap.  (The percentage may be higher for web videos.) Nor am I suggesting that the lack of or poor editing in the videos make them quaint or endearing.  Many could use some editing for content.  What makes them interesting is the immediacy of their content.  They are interesting to watch in spite of their limitations.  

I was posting video clips in Real Media format since the mid 90's YouTube.was created in 2005 and marked the true beginning of the web video explosion.  It is a much more democratic medium in which everyone can participate. It is egalitarian rather than elitist.  Forums like YouTube are changing our perceptions of how documentaties should be created.  Many of the accepted conventions in movie making and video making were not originally designed out of a sense of artistic integrity,  but as a reflection of the limitations of the equipment used in the filming.  People posting on the web are ignoring these conventions for better or worse.  These experiments are seeping into the broader world of television and movies.  There was a TV movie set in the last major earthquake in California showing some of the heroics of average people.  What jumped out in this movie was that there was nota sound track.  There have been sound tracks for movies since before there were sound in the movie.  This was a direct result of news cast video styles and home movie styles.  You look on the news, often incorporated into the broadcasts are raw footage shot by people using their home video cameras, cameras, or cell phones.  Correspondents are being interviewed overseas during wars via cell phones.  Home videos of tornados and disasters are a mainstay on the Weather Channel.  There are still limitations in this medium in streaming over the web and with the mechanics of capturing motion and sound with the equipment you have, but with the ability to shoot video clips available in an $8 digital camera the trend will continue to grow

It is this immediacy of the medium, the grittiness of the medium, the first person perspectives that make web videos interesting to watch.  Could they be better?  Sure, but they are interesting to watch in spite of their limitations. The web is the place to see the next phase of television documentaries evolve.  As I said for better or worse.  

If we are to make an impact as individuals, or as a group in the future we need to be part of the medium as it evolves.  We need to make these web videos and experiment with the medium.  We need to embrace the phenomenon.  Some things work out, some do not, some techniques now considered to be unacceptable will become the new standard in the future.   So for everyone out there shooting and posting web video, keep shooting, and keep posting.


PS: Don't be disappointed that people don't comment, it's difficult to
get anyone to take 8 minutes out of their day to sit and watch a video,
no matter what the content. For my longer videos (9+ minutes) I expect
only a small number of people to watch them all the way through,
remember that today's viewers are used to professionally edited
video/movies with tight segments of concentrated information. Maybe
consider doing some editing to get the length down a little, if you can
have more focused "segments" you might have greater success getting
people to dig into your video, keep up the good work!

Andrew Joslin wrote (August 26, 2009)
Hello Ed and ENTS,
I think you misunderstood my comments, I'm not saying that web videos
should be more like professional/polished video but that the public has
been conditioned by watching professionally produced film/video to
expect tight editing and highly focused content. I completely agree with
your analysis of the state of popular documentary film and video.

Barry had commented that he wasn't getting much response to his video
postings, I sympathize and was offering some explanation, ie: people
aren't used to watching real-time unedited video and it's difficult to
persuade anyone to take 9-10 minutes out of their day to watch anyone's
video no matter how interesting or compelling it may be. Some judicious
editing can keep the feel of the real-time walk through the woods and
keep the length of the video down. Something to think about anyway.

I've been shooting video for 3 months now, I'm in the middle of my
learning curve, I've posted everything here:

My most popular (most viewed) videos are usually purely technical
content related to tree climbing technique.

My personal favorites get very few views, for instance this meditation
on a small woodland brook:

Or this study of a male Pumpkinseed Sunfish on it's nest:

Best watched in HD if you have the bandwidth.

Looking forward to seeing more video from Barry and the rest of the ENTS!

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