Next Generation TV
By Stephen Warley
Let's Talk Video Blogging (Or Is It Vlogging?)
I know some of you are still probably trying to wrap your heads around blogging and podcasting. Now all of the sudden here comes video blogging! What is it? What's its potential? Why should you care? Those are just some of the questions I hope to answer for you.
It's Not TV
"It seems that so far, when TV tries to do the web they try to make it into TV. It's not TV. It's a different medium with different rules," says Michael Verdi . A filmmaker by trade, Verdi got involved with video blogging last fall. He had been blogging for three years, but decided to merge his two interests, "My original idea was to post short films to my blog every week as a sort of experiment. I wanted to make more stuff, get better, and get my work out there." While he doesn't receive the traffic of a top news site, it's still impressive for a blog. Each of his videos gets downloaded 2,000 to 3,000 times during the first week they are posted. "I couldn't imagine getting 3000 people to turn out in person for a 2-minute film."
Quite simply video blogging is a variation on text blogs, but uses video clips instead. Much like the first blogs, video blogs are about sharing personal life moments with the world. They aren't necessarily shows as we think of in television, but rather unfiltered clips of real reality. "I have the freedom to capture moments of my life and then immediately share them with the world, without any filter," says Steve Garfield , one of the most well-known video bloggers. He is the founder of Vlog Soup a weekly video blog taking a look at the most interesting and quirkiest video blogs from around the web.
One of Garfield's favorite video blogs is by Josh Leo . He describes watching Leo's video blog as "subscribing to a person, not a show." This is exactly what makes video blogs different from television he says, "We're making connections with other people through comments on their video blog or via email."
Video blogging is also about being unique, not being objective. "When you speak your mind or choose to have an opinion, that's what really interests people," shares Amanda Congdon , the popular host of Rocketboom , a 3-minute daily show about a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Congdon freely admits she and Rocketboom founder Andrew Baron are "biased". It's not so much that they are pushing a personal agenda, as they are just being themselves. (By the way, Garfield also serves as a correspondent for Rocketboom.)
Their "bias" is counter-balanced by the vibrant feedback they receive from their viewers. They are active participants in the dialogue Congdon begins every morning with her video blog. "We come from the standpoint that our viewers are probably smarter than we are. Our audience in many respects controls the direction of the show," explains Congdon.
This two-way dialogue does not exist in broadcasting. Video bloggers understand there are infinite perspectives on each topic that need to be brought together into a larger conversation, unlike the paternal ethos of broadcast journalism. In traditional media only a few "professional journalists" participate in the discussion, handing down "the final word" to a mass audience of mere observers. Sparking conversations is more important than the concept of "objectivity" in the vlogosphere.
Garfield captures the ease of producing video blogs compared with broadcast video, "No rules! No heavy equipment! No trucks! No soundperson!" Ideas, stories, and thoughts are not encumbered by sluggish technology or bureaucratic red tape. This new type of production enables video bloggers to respond to events faster than any broadcast organization ever could, as well as deliver their finish product on-demand, whenever it is convenient for people to consume.
While having lunch in Boston recently, Garfield happened upon the "Eyes Wide Open" display , an arrangement of soldiers' boots and civilians' shoes representing those who had died thus far in the Iraq war. Using the movie feature on his Canon S400 digital camera, he recorded the scene, which included a lone woman reading a list of names of the soldiers who have died.
He retuned home. Using Creative Commons licensed music from music.podshow.com (Creative Commons is a nonprofit that offers alternative copyright licenses), he edited the video together and posted it to his video blog to share with a worldwide audience. "I think that in addition to being able to get a story on the spur of the moment with minimal equipment, videobloggers have an advantage over broadcast journalists in that their videos can be seen by a much larger audience, the web audience, as well as on demand."
Just Jump Into the Vlogosphere
"My advice would be for a broadcast journalist to start by publishing a personal site just for fun. . . . Intellectually, it's not difficult to understand, but actually doing it provides something that you can't get from conceptualizing," advises Verdi.
"I was not at all tech savvy when I started doing Rocketboom. Now I'm totally immersed in the video blogging culture," says Congdon. Just over a year ago, Congdon was one of 450 applicants that answered Andrew Baron's call to become the host of his new video blog. Congdon is an aspiring actress, but says she could never imagine giving up her gig at Rocketboom.
She is also quick to note that video blogging is not a replacement for television, "It's something that is separate and different. It's an intimate medium. Mainstream media should view video blogging as an addition rather than as a competitor." In fact, Garfield believes there is also an opportunity for broadcast journalists to share their expertise with video bloggers, "We'd also like to learn a few things from them. Lots of people who are videoblogging are learning things as they go. Some have no video experience at all. Techniques in sound and lighting would go a long way in improving the quality of videos."
So what are you waiting for? Go Vlog!
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