Why is cheap media best?

Last night I was on a fun game show yesterday at the NewTeeVee conference, with a bunch of people who’ve created some of my favorite media sites. Aside: the conference was a lot better than I expected, congrats to Om and Liz Gannes for a great show. Andy Plesser took some video behind the scenes. Here’s the shows that were on stage yesterday during the game show: Break a Leg. Mahalo Daily. Goodnight Burbank. Wallstrip. Epic-FU. Justin.tv. Galacticast. Diggnation. Geek Entertainment TV.

What’s in common with all these?

They are all cheap baaaahhhhssssttttaaaardddds. Er, cheap shows to produce. I mean really, one show is two guys who drink beer while talking about what’s on Digg.com.

After reading through my feeds I realize that this trend continues even outside of these shows.

What’s hot on the feeds today? This video:

It’s done by a writer for the daily show talking about the Hollywood writer’s strike. Notice something? No studio. No expensive talent. No expensive camera. No expensive lights. No expensive microphones or makeup artists.

But it’s freaking attention grabbing and very viral.

Let’s keep going on our tour of fun cheap videos.

One of my favorite songs is Daft Punk’s Harder Bodies Faster Stronger.

Notice something? Cheap to create! A pen. An idea. A cheap camera. Two girls (who really are great in this video). Some music.

Let’s keep going. iLike’s Ali Partovi had a fun time with U2′s Bono. They filmed this little video. It’s going supernova. No cost media. Ali’s not a video guy. Oh, someday I’ll tell you about when he had to take away a tape I made at the recent iLike party. But only if you buy me a beer.

Anyway, let’s bring this all around. Read/Write Web talks about how the VC’s don’t see a way to make money in this business.

I think we’re all stupid if we think we can’t make money in this industry. Maybe we’re focusing too much on building expensive studios, buying expensive cameras, and all that. I’m as guilty as anyone here, but I look back at my best shows and they are pretty inexpensive to create too.

Heck, go back and watch the first video in this series again. And again. Until you get it.

There’s money in being a cheap video baaahhhhssstttaaarrrrdddd! :-)

Oh, and James Cridland you didn’t need to point out that Veronica Belmont’s videos are “so, so much better” than mine are.

Tell me something I don’t know! :-)

26 thoughts on “Why is cheap media best?

  1. The Hollywood Strike video is good and is viral, but it could become good and viral because of the weirdness of our times, it might not work at any other juncture, the times make the video, sometimes.

    I disagree about the Daft Punk video. The girls are lame and uncoordinated and a half beat too slow at points. I think some far better-produced kids, say, young and skilled black break-dancers with some practice, would just do this a lot better. The set could still be simple. Not everything is automatically conferred with art and simplicity status just by being arty and simple.

  2. The Hollywood Strike video is good and is viral, but it could become good and viral because of the weirdness of our times, it might not work at any other juncture, the times make the video, sometimes.

    I disagree about the Daft Punk video. The girls are lame and uncoordinated and a half beat too slow at points. I think some far better-produced kids, say, young and skilled black break-dancers with some practice, would just do this a lot better. The set could still be simple. Not everything is automatically conferred with art and simplicity status just by being arty and simple.

  3. “One of my favorite songs is Daft Punk’s Harder Bodies Faster Stronger.”

    No, clearly, it’s not because you don’t know the actual name of the song.

  4. “One of my favorite songs is Daft Punk’s Harder Bodies Faster Stronger.”

    No, clearly, it’s not because you don’t know the actual name of the song.

  5. I think it’s WAY cool what a person can do with a “cheap” video camera, free video editing software (like Windows Movie Maker) and a video service like blip.tv.

    The things needed for video production (always):
    * Money
    * Time
    * Talent

    Money. Because of technology coming down in cost, and sites like blip.tv, the money issues has really faded. In this area the field has definitely leveled a great deal.

    Time. Again, because of technology, computers and software in particular, post production takes way less time than it used to. I think more work needs to be done here to level the field but it has come a long way.

    Talent. This is ultimately the sifter. At least now it can be the MAIN item in determining the success of a video/movie/show now. You can’t buy yourself talent (though you can hire someone with talent). If you got what it takes and are willing to work hard, success can be yours!

    To write a book one needs only a Word Processor, dictionary, and thesuraus for tools. But not everyone who has these is automatically a great writer and best-selling author. Again, talent and hard work are needed for success.

    I’m playing around with a video show myself and I’m having a blast! http://orville-chomer-show.blip.tv/

    Am I talented? Some may question that! :) Am I hard-working enough to succeed? Honestly, I don’t know the answer to that question yet!

    Cheers!

  6. I think it’s WAY cool what a person can do with a “cheap” video camera, free video editing software (like Windows Movie Maker) and a video service like blip.tv.

    The things needed for video production (always):
    * Money
    * Time
    * Talent

    Money. Because of technology coming down in cost, and sites like blip.tv, the money issues has really faded. In this area the field has definitely leveled a great deal.

    Time. Again, because of technology, computers and software in particular, post production takes way less time than it used to. I think more work needs to be done here to level the field but it has come a long way.

    Talent. This is ultimately the sifter. At least now it can be the MAIN item in determining the success of a video/movie/show now. You can’t buy yourself talent (though you can hire someone with talent). If you got what it takes and are willing to work hard, success can be yours!

    To write a book one needs only a Word Processor, dictionary, and thesuraus for tools. But not everyone who has these is automatically a great writer and best-selling author. Again, talent and hard work are needed for success.

    I’m playing around with a video show myself and I’m having a blast! http://orville-chomer-show.blip.tv/

    Am I talented? Some may question that! :) Am I hard-working enough to succeed? Honestly, I don’t know the answer to that question yet!

    Cheers!

  7. Writing is the basis of every professionally made TV program. It generally determines whether something will be watchable. It’s also very expensive to do and it only requires a pencil. The barrier to entry for an amateur to post consistently and to get a big download from time to time is the effort it takes and a payday… and those are huge barriers. Find a way to eliminate the effort it takes to write and create compelling video and to send amateurs checks in the mail, and the user generated video revolution you hype might happen.

  8. Writing is the basis of every professionally made TV program. It generally determines whether something will be watchable. It’s also very expensive to do and it only requires a pencil. The barrier to entry for an amateur to post consistently and to get a big download from time to time is the effort it takes and a payday… and those are huge barriers. Find a way to eliminate the effort it takes to write and create compelling video and to send amateurs checks in the mail, and the user generated video revolution you hype might happen.

  9. steve: you’re right. But notice what it doesn’t have that “professional” media usually has:

    1. Studio. When I visited TechTV I used to imagine $100 bills being burned in the middle of the floor. I wasn’t too far off. Paul Allen lost a ton of money on that venture.

    2. Lights.

    3. Expensive talent. Having a $150,000 a year writer on camera is FAR LESS than having Jon Stewart.

    4. Expensive cameras. Look at the cameras that usually film the Daily Show. They are 20x more expensive than the gear that did this video.

    5. Expensive editing equipment. This was probably done on a Mac. Expensive to you, maybe, but in comparison to a regular TV station? It’s probably 1/100th what the usual editing setup costs.

    And there’s quite a few other differences as well. The staffs that run the big TV stations are quite large. Have you ever been in the director’s booth on 20/20 or CNN? I have. Those things are hugely expensive compared to what was used to create this video above.

  10. steve: you’re right. But notice what it doesn’t have that “professional” media usually has:

    1. Studio. When I visited TechTV I used to imagine $100 bills being burned in the middle of the floor. I wasn’t too far off. Paul Allen lost a ton of money on that venture.

    2. Lights.

    3. Expensive talent. Having a $150,000 a year writer on camera is FAR LESS than having Jon Stewart.

    4. Expensive cameras. Look at the cameras that usually film the Daily Show. They are 20x more expensive than the gear that did this video.

    5. Expensive editing equipment. This was probably done on a Mac. Expensive to you, maybe, but in comparison to a regular TV station? It’s probably 1/100th what the usual editing setup costs.

    And there’s quite a few other differences as well. The staffs that run the big TV stations are quite large. Have you ever been in the director’s booth on 20/20 or CNN? I have. Those things are hugely expensive compared to what was used to create this video above.

  11. “It’s done by a writer for the daily show talking about the Hollywood writer’s strike. Notice something? No studio. No expensive talent. No expensive camera. No expensive lights. No expensive microphones or makeup artists.”

    You should watch it again carefully. It appears several very talented writers collaborated on the script for this video. Much of the hard (and if they were not on strike expensive) work was done before the camera was rolling.

    It also had at least one talented camera person, sound engineer (note no street noise interfering with the message), and video editor (dozens of well placed edits, graphics, end video clips).

  12. “It’s done by a writer for the daily show talking about the Hollywood writer’s strike. Notice something? No studio. No expensive talent. No expensive camera. No expensive lights. No expensive microphones or makeup artists.”

    You should watch it again carefully. It appears several very talented writers collaborated on the script for this video. Much of the hard (and if they were not on strike expensive) work was done before the camera was rolling.

    It also had at least one talented camera person, sound engineer (note no street noise interfering with the message), and video editor (dozens of well placed edits, graphics, end video clips).

  13. Would you say that those are authenticcally trying to be not authentic though? Or rather honestly trying to be the best at being fake that they can be? In my comment, I just meant that you have to be willing to play the game and be the best. Not stand around idly posting terrible content on YouTube.

    The Daily Show writers had a good story, a script they probably wrote, and took the time to create something authentic and unique. FSJ writes excellent articles not because he is a hack, but because he is a skilled writer. I still lean on the fact that you have to have skill and passion if you want to succeed.

  14. Would you say that those are authenticcally trying to be not authentic though? Or rather honestly trying to be the best at being fake that they can be? In my comment, I just meant that you have to be willing to play the game and be the best. Not stand around idly posting terrible content on YouTube.

    The Daily Show writers had a good story, a script they probably wrote, and took the time to create something authentic and unique. FSJ writes excellent articles not because he is a hack, but because he is a skilled writer. I still lean on the fact that you have to have skill and passion if you want to succeed.

  15. Jake: I used to agree with you until Fake Steve Jobs came along. Not to mention Lonely Girl. And many other “popular” videos out there that aren’t based on being authentic.

  16. Jake: I used to agree with you until Fake Steve Jobs came along. Not to mention Lonely Girl. And many other “popular” videos out there that aren’t based on being authentic.

  17. Scoble,
    You can’t intend to have a video be viral. It has to be good first. A good viral video has to have a good story, or a good point. Gary Goldhammer presented at the Blogging for Business conference the other day and mentioned that being viral is an outcome, not a strategy. I think there is a lot of wisdom in those few words. You have to be authentic or you are going to fail.

  18. Scoble,
    You can’t intend to have a video be viral. It has to be good first. A good viral video has to have a good story, or a good point. Gary Goldhammer presented at the Blogging for Business conference the other day and mentioned that being viral is an outcome, not a strategy. I think there is a lot of wisdom in those few words. You have to be authentic or you are going to fail.

  19. There are some great shows out there trying their hardest to make some money. Revision 3 has quite a few, including the aforementioned Diggnation, which has some stellar numbers. Another up and coming show on Rev 3 is The Totally Rad Show, which features one of the presenters of Diggnation (Alex Albrecht) and two of his friends who discuss movies, video games, TV and comics. The production values on that show are excellent to say the guys don’t make a dime (yet).

  20. There are some great shows out there trying their hardest to make some money. Revision 3 has quite a few, including the aforementioned Diggnation, which has some stellar numbers. Another up and coming show on Rev 3 is The Totally Rad Show, which features one of the presenters of Diggnation (Alex Albrecht) and two of his friends who discuss movies, video games, TV and comics. The production values on that show are excellent to say the guys don’t make a dime (yet).

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