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With the increase in broadband Internet use web video’s exponential rise can only be described as a media revolution. Content creators across the board are using web video to promote products, TV shows, political opinion, personal video diaries, books and music. From professional advertisers to aspiring adolescent filmmakers, sites like YouTube, AOL Video, and Google Video are allowing the democratization of video distribution and creating celebrities and fleeting fame on a daily basis. The tools are readily available, the screen never before filled with so many shooting stars, and a real audience is there to witness the rise.
By utilizing the concept of the “webisode,” or a series of short online videos that move along a particular storyline or theme, creators can harness the power of the web to develop legions of fans. One incredible example is that of YouTube’s recent star Lonelygirl15 whose fictitious online personal diary resulted in 2 million views and became the fourth most popular “channel” on YouTube. After months of doubt and questioning as to Lonelygirl15’s true identity by viewers, bloggers, critics, etc. it has come to light that she is in fact a creation of two aspiring filmmakers Ramesh Flinders and Miles Beckett. Though their ploy discovered, the two now plan to take the Lonely Girl series and their hundreds of thousands of fans to their own site. Whether their massive media exposure will continue and if they can translate this splash into longstanding film production careers remains to be seen, but their media impact cannot be denied.
In addition to filmmakers using webisodes for promotional purposes, the advertising industry has jumped aboard with vigor with the inclusion of web video, webisodes, and short film as part of their advertising campaigns. OfficeMax has produced a reality show set to air on ABC Family cable and on Google Video. Home Depot is selling streaming video to home improvement vendors on their website. Smirnoff has released a rap video-spoof commercial on YouTube to promote its new iced-tea malt beverage. Frito-Lay’s Doritos are holding a contest for the best homemade commercial, the prize a 30 second spot aired on CBS during this year’s Super Bowl. Fashion magazine Glamour has produced three short films that will be shown in theaters and will be available on the company’s website. Country Living, Time, and The Washington Post are increasing the use of Web video in their regular coverage and book publishers offer online videos with behind- the-scenes interviews with authors and movie-trailer-like synopses of the plots of novels.
Wow, this is incredible, insane, huge, but so what? What does this video explosion mean for media artists, video producers, flash animators, streaming web producers, music composers, sound designers and basically anyone who wants to expand their audience? Well, from my perspective, two central points emerge. First, media artists can promote and market themselves and their work at levels never before dreamed of with zero advertising expense by utilizing sites like YouTube and Google Video. Any of us could create the next Lonelygirl15, in theory, and be splashed across thousands of media headlines. Secondly, media artists can find opportunities, jobs, work, where none has previously existed. Go ahead, call up Smirnoff and inquire as to who handles their video production or if they have a process for video submission. See if Anheuser-Busch is hiring producers, flash animators, or sound designers for their new network or if Glamour is seeking new content for their film production. Since nearly all facets of our society, businesses in all industries, government agencies and media outlets, are beginning to use video because of its easy and cheap distribution via the web, the demand for video/animation/music has never been greater and opportunities never so present as they are today.
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write by Ahmed Alatari