Filmmaker Highlight: John Rhode

John Rhode has seen it all.  He modeled, acted in the theatre, shot the Buckeye’s football film as well as PSA’s for the state of Ohio, had a film critic show in Columbus and received an MFA in Cinema from Ohio State University.  Destined to come to LA, he later studied at USC cinema and got into tons of music videos.

Then he worked as a camera operator and had the opportunity to work with Academy Award winners like John Seale (Harry Potter films), Vilmos Zsigmond (The Deer Hunter), and Vittorio Storaro (Apocalypse Now).  John has won Telly and Eagle Awards for his own cinematography, and has now turned to directing when he’s not shooting, having directed three movies as well as commercials with Southwest Airlines and videos for Google.  His list of credits is impressive.

John Rhode

I got to know John’s work from an excellent short he worked on with Frank Chindamo for one of our branded competitions.  Their short, “Quit Your Day Job”, included YouTube stars in a hilarious comedy about two lazy husbands who try to make millions by filming their own reality shows.  Their wives are not amused, but our viewers were!  I asked John about what he thinks is happening with web video.

“I’m definitely looking to do a lot more, and we’re pitching different companies,” he began.  “Amazon, Yahoo, YouTube, even Craigslist all have their own webisodes. I think the YouTube experiment is over…I heard the subscribers to their webisodes — the ones they spent $100M on one year and another $200M the next — didn’t amount to the subscribers compared to their existing wacky YouTube celebrities.

“But everyone is still trying to find their way.  I’m looking to shoot more narrative material including webisodes or even commercial-tainments.  Some webisodes have been very successful, and some networks are picking them up for TV shows.”  For some examples, read this recent article from IndieWire or this one from The National.

In addition to his efforts on the web, John is still inspired to work on his own features.  “I’m developing screenplays with several writers, looking to develop features for under $5M as well as mega-budgets.  We have several scripts in development, from family to thriller genres.”

JR Filming

Introducing ZoomTilt Analytics

Today, we’re pleased to announce the beta release of ZoomTilt Analytics – a self-service software tool for A/B testing videos to help users identify and optimize their top-performing video content. The goal of ZoomTilt Analytics is to help businesses and video creators:

  1. Make better, more audience-targeted videos by compiling feedback and data from real, relevant viewers;
  2. Make smarter decisions about what videos to create, how to edit them and how to release them; and
  3. Increase video marketing return on investment.

The trial version of ZoomTilt Analytics, which allows experimenters to easily set up and run video A/B tests from YouTube, is now available as a free service on ZoomTilt.com. In addition, our ZoomTilt Analytics Premium service now gives brands, agencies and media companies the ability to create and customize video A/B tests around specific target audience profiles and marketing metrics.

We’re very excited to share ZoomTilt Analytics with you, we have plans to introduce lots of new features and capabilities, and we welcome any feedback or questions you’d like to share with us. Interested in learning more about the benefits of ZoomTilt Analytics Premium for your business? Contact us today to get started.

Check out the video below for a demo of ZoomTilt Analytics in action:

YouTube Creator Academy: Lesson 1 – 3

This week our Manager of Brand and Community Relations, Amy DePaola (also known on Twitter as @TheeAmyDee), dove into her first ever MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) with the YouTube Creator’s Academy.

Amy, who has produced several web based series, including 617 The Series and the second season of The Rookie Bartender, decided to let us in on some of the secrets that only 32,000 YouTubers are partaking in.

In lessons one through three, which were led by Tastemade’s SORTED Food, Amy learned the difference between subscribers and non-subscribers and how they effect “watch time” and “clicks.” Ultimately, it is subscribers who up your channels “watch-time” and the YTCA is divulging insight into how to increase your subscriber base. In fact, in the new welcome module that YouTube deployed, your subscribers and your non-subscribers see two different page set-ups. Non-subscribers are prompted with a welcome teaser video while subscribers are led right into a channel’s playlist and related content. Both of which creator’s can control.

In addition to how to gain subscribers and design/layout, Amy learned about branding, which brought some perspective as to how you should treat your YouTube page. That is if you are serious about making yourself or your creation about a business. Amy has mentioned that this experience has been motivating for her and she would love if you will follow her as she rebuilds her individual YouTube presence.

YouTube Creator Academy: What is a MOOC?

This past Monday I began taking my first ever MOOC with the YouTube Creator’s Academy.

What’s a MOOC? Well, its a Massive Online Open Course, of course.

I took an online course at Harvard Extension School a few years back, it wasn’t the best experience for me. A MOOC is different from what we’ve seen with “web-based education” to date because unlike online courses from selected colleges, MOOCs, don’t have a cap on the number of registrants.

In order to better understand a MOOC and how the creative industries can benefit from them I took to my Emerson College colleague, Loudon Sterns, who is also a professor at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Loudon has been teaching online courses for several years now and recently dove into the grand task of organizing and instructing his first ever Music Production MOOC with Coursera.

@TheeAmyDee: I know you had experience with a Massive Online Open Course, can you tell me why you chose to get involved with one? Seems really daunting to organize.

@LoudonStearns: I have been teaching online for 4 years now through Berkleemusic.com. I found the transition from classroom to online teaching quite easy. At BerkleeMusic I have class sizes of 20 people or less and I have weekly contact with every student through e-mail, assignments, discussions, and realtime audio video chats. With the introduction of MOOCs that has become the traditional online class. It is kind of funny that we now have “traditional online teaching!” Berklee is creating a series of MOOCS in partnership with Coursera.com and asked me to author one. I jumped at the idea because I love a new challenge. It was a chance to experiment with new modes of education and have a wide impact on the world. Also, as a music teacher I think I have a responsibility to try new teaching methods. Hopefully what art educators discover works(and doesn’t) can provide examples for other disciplines.

Personally, I was also very interested on what impact this would have on the teacher. It seems like a huge amount of exposure, which is unusual for a teacher. I was curious how being a public figure like this would impact the rest of my life. As a musician I am comfortable, even excited, by this type of exposure. In the end the personal impact wasn’t as great as I thought it would be, but that was one of my reasons to get involved.
@TheeAmyDee: What were some of the take-aways for you? Any lessons learned? or Advice you would give someone on how to maximize the potential of a MOOC?
@LoudonStearns: Humans are amazing! Every day, as the MOOC ran, I saw people helping each other, treating each other with respect, and working hard to understand this difficult topic. The community was wonderful and I was blessed to be part of it. The biggest lesson would be the need for research and iterative design. We can’t expect to know how to do this right the first time. Every class I have ever taught got better after 3 or 4 runs as I refined my presentation and what I expect of the students. The same must go for a MOOC. Teaching here is quite different. The teacher must think statistically instead of personally. A single student’s problem is my problem in a traditional classroom, but in a MOOC I must focus on the community. This shift is tough to adjust to, and I think any teacher will need to run the MOOC, adjust it and run it again before the MOOC will really work perfectly. We are running my MOOC again later this summer and I am really interested to see how the course changes with the adjustments we are making to the assignments, grading, scheduling, marketing and class communication. The other big lesson was the importance of a team working together. In a traditional classroom the space belongs to the teacher and the teacher is largely autonomous. In my MOOC experience I realized how important it was to have a strong team working together to make it work well. Because of the large community and the teaching team, it felt that success of a MOOC really revolves around communication. Clear communication between the team members and within the community is essential. Because of the highly international student body the communication must be carefully crafted and I found myself really examining how I communicate with that community in mind.
@TheeAmyDee: As an artist, it seems strange to think about a MOOC. I’ve been concerned with this as I dive into the YouTube Creator’s Academy; do you think that MOOCs have the capability to promote individuality?
@LoudonStearns: They definitely promote the teacher’s individuality! The thousands of students that finished my course watched 83 videos of me teaching music production, so they got a good dose of Loudon for sure.
I think there are opportunities for students to promote themselves. Within the class forums is a large community of fellow musicians. I am not sure that was the best place to promote their music, but it is a great place to get honest feedback about their music. In looking through the forums I found many great supportive comments and some insightful feedback.
On the whole, I think people were at my MOOC to learn. While it is a community, and socialization is part of that, the most important thing is to create an environment focused on learning. I had expected more socialization and personal relationships in the course, but there is this huge crowd feel to it. And now that I think of it, I have rarely met someone within a huge crowd that I have maintained a lasting relationship with. I think to really promote individuality we need to find ways to create smaller groups within the crowd. This is a known issue with MOOCs and one that I tried to solve in a few ways while running my MOOC, and I know of other teachers that have tried it with various amounts of success. Really, I think it is a design problem, and this is an evolving learning/teaching format. As it develops teachers and students will work together to improve the environment. Right now I feel that we are just starting to understand how this works. We should be careful about judging the success or failure of this format for a couple of years. Give the teachers and software developers time to identify and solve the issues. Right now there is amazing support for MOOCs from colleges and they are creating so much of this amazing content and supplying it to the world for free! We really owe a huge debt to the colleges, like Berklee, and the individuals that are taking the risk to create these classes. Creating these classes takes time and money and the rewards are uncertain. I could go on and list other issues with the current MOOC situation, but that pales in comparison to the one thing that I do know: thousands of people were able to study with me, a Berklee professor, for free, and that is an amazing thing.
@TheeAmyDee: Thanks so much Loudon! This has certainly made me more excited about participating in the YouTube Creator’s Academy MOOC. I’m going to keep an open mind and embrace it with full force.
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For more from Loudon Stearns follow him on Twitter: @LoudonStearns. You can also register to be apart of his next Music Production MOOC with Coursera here:

To stay up to date with our experience and opinion on the YouTube Creator’s Academy follow ZoomTilt on Twitter: @ZoomTilt

YouBrand RoundUP: Auto Edition

ZoomTilt is bringing you YouBrand RoundUP, a once a week in-depth analysis of  video content from top brands in focused industries.

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The auto industry is no stranger to viral video marketing. In fact, there is a reason why we chose this industry as our first industry of focus in the YouBrand Round Up.

Last week Crain’s Business Detroit published this article that discusses how marketers in the auto industry are focusing on delivering TV content that jumps to the “second-screen”; those devices hardly anyone can live without: lap-tops, tablets and mobile phones. It is proven that TV content drives internet search so the logic is that eyes that are watching advertisements on TV, especially ones that leave them with something to search for, or something that has “repetitiveness” and it just has to be watched again, will generate “second-screen” attention and more importantly it will be shared on “second-screen” platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Another Crain’s Business Detroit article highlights the “Top 10 viral auto ads” however, all the listed ads also began on television and only entered into the “second screen” sector following their television debut. Yet, in order to be considered “viral” they had to go to the second screen. Interesting.

It is fair to say that the auto industry considers a successful advertising campaign to have “unimaginable Superbowl like numbers,” and these days marketers have to look to the “second-screen” chatter to calculate these numbers accurately.

So, who is taking the brave and the incredibly smart leap over the budget-wasting step of television and heading straight to the “second-screen” from the auto industry. Here’s our YouBrand RoundUP: The Auto Edition:

The 8 YouTube Original Channels: Automotive:

What began as eight featured “original channels” promoted through the “YouTube Original Channels Series” now lists about ten channels that focus on topics that affect consumer opinions on their car/motorcycle purchases, fantasies and general knowledge.

On the Drive Channel, Swedish luxury car designer, Koenigsegg, had their own show which goes inside the meticulous process to create the car, which is a sleek, high-end, sports car, in nine-episodes.

Jaguar F-Type presents Desire:

The most recent video campaign in the auto industry accompanies Jaguar’s release of their first sports car in 50 years. The 12 minute short film that debuted online last month stars Homeland’s Damien Lewis and features a commissioned song by Lana Del Ray. The film itself only has about 43,000 views on YouTube while additional videos such as the behind the scenes and the making of have between 1,000 and 3,000 views.

This is nowhere near “viral” or the Superbowl like numbers that advertisers in the auto industry like to see but there is a lot we can learn from this. I’ll explain further.

Audi and BMW, been there, done that:

In 2010, Audi released an original mini-series The Next Big Thing which starred Justin Timberlake. Big Thing, unlike its predecessor BMW’s The Hirewas told serially, meaning you had to watch the episodes in order to understand the story, whereas Hire was a series of different stories with the same lead character portrayed by Clive Owen.

Both Big Thing and Hire had views that dipped into the several hundred thousands. It is hard for me to sit here in 2013 and even state a fair and accurate number because fans of the cars as well as the actors and the series’ themselves also uploaded the episodes to their channels as well to share (key word here) with their friends.

Ford, still doing it and doing it well:

Ford has a decent amount of original content that they have been churning out over the past few years. Late last year they announced the launch of their original series to accompany the release of the new Ford Escape, Escape My Life.The series has over 2,000 subscribers to its channel and over 1 million views. Its channel page has added features that allow viewers to create their own content that relates to the series, such as the Barry memes, of which one can assume that when it is shared (huh, huh, that word again!) it will spark the interest of others and they’ll click through a bunch of hyperlinks to find out where the source of the meme was – and oh – “ta-da! Its part of Escape My Life…that’s weird I was just thinking about a new car . . “

I really enjoy the series over the other’s that I’ve discussed in this YouBrand RoundUP but that is because I am a woman, who works in the film industry that needs a car that is not only functional for my work but is comfortable, stylish and affordable (I’m single too.).

At first glance, one would say that Jaguar “did it wrong” because they chose to make a 12 minute film as oppose to a short episode no more than 4-5 minutes. Something shorter would’ve gotten them more views, no?

I wouldn’t consider Jaguar a failure based on their low number of views. The Jaguar F-type clearly has a very niche customer. And there aren’t many of them. The average consumer isn’t purchasing a sports car, let alone a luxury sports car. Those guys, well, they are like Damien Lewis in a gray suit and tie, classy, educated and fantasize about beautiful Latina women.

I’ll stop beating around the bush: Visual marketing and advertising these days needs to go beyond showing your consumers what the product is or who uses it. Brands, such as the brands listed here in our YouBrand RoundUp: Auto Edition have gone beyond the traditional commercial that does so and have told the stories of their consumers, or at least how their consumers want to see themselves.

I’m just saying. I’m a quirky, fun-loving, humorous, late twenty-something who drives a crossover very similar to the Ford Escape.

 

 

5 Lessons on the Future of Video from Mary Meeker

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byer’s rockstar, internet-trend-watching analyst Mary Meeker has just released the 2013 edition of her annual internet trends report at the Wall Street Journal’s D11: All Things Digital Conference.

And while Meeker focuses the bulk of the report’s attention on sound, mobile and wearable tech, the 2013 Internet Trends Report also gives a big nod to the importance and evolving presence of video in the digital landscape. So without further adieu, here are 5 key lessons on the future of video courtesy of Mary Meeker (with some analytical interpretation via ZoomTilt).

Lesson #1: Mobile isn’t just a “second screen”

We are moving beyond an era where your smart phone is just the thing you use to Tweet during TV commercial breaks. The majority of mobile device use occurs somewhat counter-intuitively within people’s homes, the average phone user checks social media on their phone nine times per day, and mobile as a share of total internet traffic is showing exponential (not linear) growth.

Mobile Internet Growth

Lesson for the video community: If you work with digital video content, expect your content to be consumed (and hopefully shared) via mobile. Whether it’s a Twitter Vine or longer-form content, mobile is not just a second screen – in many cases it is a primary screen, so make sure (1) your content is discoverable on mobile and (2) anticipate the viewing experience on a small screen (potentially with poor audio and a time-constrained viewer). See also ReelSEO’s great article on 5 ways to optimize your video for mobile viewing.

Lesson #2: YouTube is a social network (and a big one, at that)

In addition to being a subsegment of the world’s largest search engine, YouTube is also the world’s second largest social network. YouTube is also demonstrating user growth at rates much higher than Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+.

YouTube is a social network

Lesson for the video community: try actually being social both within and outside of YouTube. On YouTube: be active in the comments feed, comment on other videos you like and response to comments and messages about your own videos. Outside of YouTube: network and collaborate with other creators to formulate great original content, help get your work more exposure and get better economies of scale with audience-building.

Lesson #3: Short-form video is exploding in popularity

In large part thanks to the momentum of Twitter’s Vine, Meeker points out that short-form video creation and consumption is growing rapidly:

Twitter Vine

However, short-form video presents both a tremendous opportunity and a tremendous challenge. Because of the format, successful Vines must be immediately and impressively visual, and the medium makes telling a story, developing characters or provoking audience emotional engagement highly challenging. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of vines get very low engagement, with few views and even fewer retweets. By comparison, the Vine’s that break through and achieve a degree of viral lift typically showcase highly clever, thoughtful cinematography optimized for the animated GIF-like repetitive format.

Lesson for the video community: despite what your agent or agency might tell you, Vine isn’t the holy grain for your branding, social media or content creation needs: it is a tool, and one that must be used wisely. Think your audience really wants to watch your Vine? No, your audience would rather sit down and watch a full-length episode of Mad Men with riveting plot development, so if you’re going to start cranking out Vines do your best to get creative with it and experiment.

Lesson #4: America does not equal the internet

One of the most awesome lessons from Meeker’s presentation is just how international the internet has become. Compared to America’s 244 million internet users (at a population penetration of 78%), India already has 137 million internet users at a population penetration of only 11%. Meanwhile, China boasts 564 million internet subscribers, while Brazil is coming on strong with 88 million web-connected people. Also, interestingly according to Meeker, we don’t share as much content on the internet as other cultures:

US social media sharing

Lesson for the video community: Think about an international audience when you’re creating and distributing digital video and look into things like foreign language programming or captioning on your YouTube content, both areas where Machinima typically does a great job.

Lesson #5: Content is becoming more democratic (and, thereby, more competitive) than ever before

Wondering why nobody’s watching your videos? Well, it might be because of this, but it probably also has something to do with the fact that 100 hours per minute of video are uploaded to YouTube every single minute. Talk about a flood of content that’s showing no sign of slowing down.

Damn Thats a Lot of Video

Lesson for the video community: be really deliberate about the content you create a give people a compelling reason to watch it. The best type of content to achieve this is video that creates value for the viewer – ideally a combination of emotional value (e.g., funny, exciting, shocking) and relevant information value.

Learn anything else from Mary Meeker’s presentation? Agreed or disagreed with anything we wrote above? Feel free to drop us a line in the comments below or give a Twitter shoutout to @ZoomTilt.

Brands Take Note! Online Video Was in the Headlines Today (and yesterday..and probably tomorrow too).

Other than the fact that the humidity in Boston was turning the mop on my head into something that looked straight out of Welcome Back Kotter, I noticed something this morning: The topic of online video was prevalent in my Twitter feed.

That’s right, my brand ambassadors, online video is making headlines and it is time to take note.

From, local Boston based media outlet, BostInno to industry insiders such as Tubefilter and REELSeo, to the Wall Street Journal, today’s news highlighted the key notion that online video is coming close to viewer domination.

Tubefilter, the curator of online video and online video news, reported this morning the Comscore Online 2013 April Rankings boasted that online video ads were up to a whopping 13.2 billion views.

With that many eyeballs glued to online video, BostInno’s business editor, Walter Frick asked the question “can ad targeting be creative?”

Frick goes on in his article (a part of Genuine Interactive’s sponsored series, Branding that Clicks) to say that “[he] expect(s) that as our targeting technologies continue to improve, a new form of creativity in advertising will arise, one that seeks to tell stories through targeting. Just like a TV campaign might begin with one ad and then progress throughout a narrative, expect ad targeting campaigns to be even more elaborate.”

Obviously, you know over here at ZoomTilt we’ve gotten rid of old-fashioned words such as “ad” and “advertisements” and have replaced it with “web-series.”

What better way to get creative than trimming the fat and just using the ingredients your brand cares about? Let us streamline your message to your consumers. Let’s do without your “ads” having to support another narrative. Let us make your “ads” THE narrative; the reason why consumers and audience members are watching; the reason why consumers are sharing content. Call me crazy but to me that sounds more like “branding that clicks.”

Established brands are hopping into the ocean of YouTube distributed content with Discovery announcing just this week plans for expansion with online video. The cable network’s original channel is joining the likes of Yahoo! and Amazon, who also recently unveiled original programming plans.

Investors are taking note too. All the buzz on Wall Street is over which platform will get them their big golden seed of ROI. 

Tubefilter’s Sam Gutelle, sums up our thoughts exactly by adding this fun fact:

“84.7% of Americans are now online video viewers. We can’t rest until that number is at 100%. Tell your grandparents about YouTube today!”

At 15.3%, grandparents probably do allocate for the only members of the population that aren’t watching online videos. Even my 4 year-old nephew watches video on my sister’s cell phone while she tries to enjoy a meal in public. Reaching a younger audience was Discovery’s “big reason” for taking the leap into online video. How are you reaching those consumers, you know the ones who have a lifetime of spending ahead of them?

But no really, take note and ask yourself, how are you spending your advertising dollars these days?