What makes a video go viral? What triggers the act of sharing a clip on Facebook or Twitter? Generally, it's emotion: laughter, tears, surprise, shock, etc. It's not enough to create pretty images or great special effects if the audience doesn't feel anything when your video is over. In the current video age, nothing goes viral without social media coming into play, and most viewers need to be moved or motivated beyond the norm in order for them to put something in front of their friends and followers.
This week saw another great batch of clips go viral, ranging from Star Wars clips to Patriotic scenes. But the one thing they all had in common was that they elicited an emotional response from their viewers. And you can cause emotional reactions through a variety of methods, but without it your video is dead on arrival.
Let's take a look at some of clips this week that moved their audience emotionally in a way that spurred sharing behavior:
Sometimes the universe just creates a coincidence out of thin air. Like when two videos by separate multitasking violinists go viral in the same week.
First we had YouTube user lara6683, who somehow managed to discover a unique talent: she can play the violin AND Dance, Dance Revolution at the same time... and she's pretty good at both. Take a look:
If you're amazed at her ability to perform three tasks at once, you will likely also be impressed by another violinist named layla19781101, who also plays a harp and a piano in the same video:
The third video in this group is, admittedly, a bit of a stretch, considering there's not really any "multitasking" going on. But that doesn't make it any less awesome. The clip features the Trinity College Orchestra performing a song by Daft Punk:
Videos showcasing unique or amazing musical performances will always have a home in the viral community. We are a society that craves music--just browse YouTube some time and count how many of the most-viewed videos of all time are music videos. But the successful video will stand out from the others through some clever wrinkle or twist.
Some videos are just art... and there's no way around it. And art can definitely provoke emotional responses for viewers, as it has been doing for centuries.
Here's a breathtaking time-lapse video of Chicago, New York City, Toronto, Quebec City, and Montreal... it's amazing:
Short films can go viral just like a 30-second commercial can, but the requirements are still the same: they have to make the audience feel something... something strong enough to get them talking about it afterwards. Like Blood On My Name, a short film from Whitestone Motion Pictures:
Sometimes video is the medium for the art. But sometimes it's just a video that showcases a physical work of art. Like the clip of this incredible toothpick model of San Francisco, which is also a ball run:
How much time must have been spent on that model? Seems like it must have been a lifetime. It's an impressive piece, and you can easily see why people would forward that clip to their friends.
Plenty of examples of patriotic videos this week, as the country reacts to the announcement that Osama bin Laden has been defeated. We already talked about the spontaneous chants of "USA" that erupted at a baseball game as the news spread through the stadium. Over at the NBA, at least one team decided to mark the occasion by skipping the tradition of having a celebrity sing the national anthem. Instead, they asked the crowd--and the players--to handle the honors:
Not everyone likes chanting "USA," and the context seems to have a lot to do with it. Take this young man, who tries to start the chant on a New York subway (the day following the bin Laden announcement) only to be met by cold stares, silence, and at least one vulgar gesture:
In a more... rural celebration of Osama's defeat, this gentleman filmed himself riding a four-wheeler while carrying an American flag and shooting his gun. It's not a celebration everyone would appreciate, but over half a million people have watched it:
Good, Old-Fashioned Fun
Some videos defy my categorization system... so I just come up with a broader category name like "Good, Old-Fashioned Fun." It allows me to show you a wide range of viral successes without the pesky burden of an actual central theme. :)
Like the Slow-Mo Guys, who are one of the fastest-rising YouTube creators around---they even won the On The Rise competition last month. Their concept is straightforward: film things with super high-speed cameras, and let the world enjoy the slow-motion results. This week their big hit involved a 6 foot water balloon:
Another great YouTube channel that's getting all kinds of buzz lately is Talking Animals. The premise is deceivingly simple: overdub voices on video clips of animals. But the attention to detail shows these guys are very talented--the animals only "talk" when their mouths move, and when they turn their heads the audio changes to match a more distant-sounding voice.
The first Talking Animals video I saw this week was actually an old clip of a cat that is a terrible mystic. But they also released a new clip this week of a man teasing his dog, and it quickly went viral as well. It's easily one of my favorite clips of the week:
Not everyone involved with the royal wedding treated the event as a somber, proper affair. One man even did cartwheels inside the church:
People love to laugh and smile. If you can make them smile enough, the first thing they'll do when your video is over is share that smile with a friend.
I never have room for all the great videos I see in a given week... so consider this the best of the rest:
- Spider vs. Ant. You won't see it coming.
- Can't get enough high-speed-camera video? Even gelatin cubes are mesmerizing when viewed in slow motion.
- Beyonce surprised a bunch of high school kids by showing up while they were dancing to her song.
- Ducks watching a yo-yo is WAY more entertaining than it sounds like.