Welcome to another Viral Video Lessons Round Up. It's our attempt to have some fun by watching some of the week's biggest viral hits. But we also attempt to learn something. By reverse-engineering these clips—analyzing them to see if we can determine why they got popular—perhaps we can inform our own future video efforts and have a greater chance of success.
Let's get to the videos, because there are some truly amazing clips this week:
Stop Motion Rap Video
I've written many times before of my love for stop-motion videos. And we've seen a resurgence of the format this year, with hits like the T-shirt war, the Big Bang Big Boom street art video, the post-it-note Mario clip, and many more. It's a trend that shows no signs of slowing. And why should it when the videos are this good?
This week I stumbled upon a clip called Lyrical Spread, which acts as a bit of a music video for a song called "The Batter, The Rapper, and the Mad Hatter" by an artist named Chameleon. The concept is much more simple than the execution must have been: a guy uses a knife to spread his lyrics over bread, crackers, English muffins, and more. Take a look:
This video is just bursting with creativity. I've certainly never seen anything like it. It's a fun way to bring the lyrics to life—admit it… you can't help but pay attention to the words of the song.
But imagine the work that went into this. Actually, we don't need to imagine; the creator tells us right in the video's description. It took him four days, using 438 printed labels, and 2,295 still photos. Geez. I think the main reason I like stop-motion videos so much—aside from the one-of-a-kind visual flair they possess—is the sheer volume of work that goes into them.
I can't help but respect even the most mundane and average stop-motion clips, because even they represent an enormous undertaking. A stop motion video is a labor of love—you don't create one unless you're passionate about it. Which is why you might consider building your next video around stop-motion. Why not show your viewers and your audience exactly how passionate you are about what you have to say? And the beauty of stop-motion—one reason it's so popular lately—is that anyone can do it. You just need a clever seed of an idea… and a truckload of free time.
Our second featured video—also from Vimeo—is a sports-related clip that should appeal to even those of you with no interest in sports whatsoever. Because it's first-and-foremost an amazing time-lapse video. Sports is just the setting.
In the NFL, the New York Jets and the New York Giants have a unique stadium-sharing arrangement—they both call the same stadium home. It's called the New Meadowlands, and it just opened this year (though they shared the old Meadowlands stadium for years as well). And on the first week of the NFL season, they both had home games about 24 hours apart. The Giants played on Sunday afternoon, and the Jets played on Monday night. But in between the two games, an awful lot of work goes on behind the scenes to change the stadium over from Giants-blue to Jets-green so that fans of both teams can truly feel at home in the stadium.
So Ken Friberg and Daniel Life decided to time-lapse the changeover, and the results are pretty fantastic:
This video appeared online three days ago, and is already creeping up on 400,000 views. Impressive. I'm sure it was helped to popularity by the fact that several prominent sports blogs and websites embedded the clip.
Which actually brings me to my first lesson we can learn from this video's success: choose a setting, venue, topic, or focus for your video that crosses over with a mainstream audience. These two creators could have time-lapsed anything they wanted. And they would still have gotten plenty of views from time-lapse fans and video fans. But setting it in the world of sports—with two of the most popular teams in the NFL, no less—allowed them to find exposure with a huge audience that otherwise would never have noticed their work. Genius.
There's also something to be said for time-lapse video. When it's done right—with the right subject, camera angles, intervals, and quality of picture—it can be mesmerizing. And it's pretty low-maintenance work too. Sure, you need a good eye and some technical know how to get everything set up correctly, but once that's out of the way… filming a time-lapse video isn't much more complicated than pushing the "record" button and waiting.
Nothing goes viral faster than video pertaining to breaking national and global news. Things like natural disasters and public figures. If it's national headline news… and there's video of it… there's a good chance that video is going viral.
Case in point? The 109 mph wind and rain storm that blew through Brooklyn last night—officials are still trying to determine if it was a tornado. It's pretty rare for the New York City area to be hammered by a Midwest-style storm like this. Which makes video of such a thing a bit of a rarity.
And it also creates buzz among the public, as everyone wants to read about and see evidence of this once-in-a-century weather event.
Today's mobile culture means that almost anyone can, if they desire, pull out a camera and start filming. Which many New Yorkers did. Check out the clips below (some may contain bad language):
It's nearly impossible to plan for something like this as a filmmaker. You have to rely on good fortune, good planning, and good instincts.
But that doesn't mean you can't be ready for anything from a video standpoint. You probably have a mobile device capable of recording video—many can record high quality video these days. Why not film something that's making news in your community or in your industry, and base your viral efforts off of that?
Pay attention to strange weather conditions. Go to school board meetings. Keep your eyes out for crazy public behavior. What are people talking about, buzzing about, and writing about on Facebook? Be mindful of the things your community is paying the most attention to.
Why not follow the news in your area and stay on top of current events… always on the lookout for something filmable. If the topic is hot among your core audience demographic, then video of that topic will definitely be hot as well.
And stay flexible. None of these filmmakers planned or caused that intense storm. But all three acted swiftly once they realized they were witnesses to something unique. And that's the frame of mind I'm talking about.
I can't wrap this up without mentioning:
- This jaw-dropping play by a high school running back.
- This cat that can catch a ball with its paws… repeatedly.
- This oddly compelling clip of "Irish Hand-Dancing.”
- Twitter's fine video this week announcing their new redesign.
Not Viral Yet, But Deserves To Be
- This clipof the Ghostbusters car and the Back to the Future car in some kind of caravan together, headed down the highway.