Tag Archives: video

Seth McFarlane and YouTube are Back and It Feels So…Lame

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Much has been made about the YouTube deal with Seth “Family Guy” McFarlane in which Seth creates VERY short, occassionally funny animated pieces and they are combined with a McFarlane-esque pre-roll ad (this time from Priceline) and distributed via Googles video ad network.

This seems to be working pretty well for them in terms of overall views but I find the presentation to be, well, a total ripoff.

As an example, check out this episode:

If you were paying attention you might have noticed that the pre-roll ad was about 20 seconds and the actual cartoon was also about 20 seconds.  That’s a pretty crappy ratio of sales to original content.  It doesn’t help that the original content is just kinda funny, if that.

I can’t imagine this is a format that will work for most online webseries.  While people do whatever they can to avoid ads on TV they are not going to put up with having to sit through an ad that is as long as the program they wanted to see in the first place online.

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Playboy Tries Out Interns, Tries to Look Relevant

The first issue of Playboy, published on Decem...
Image via Wikipedia

Playboy has definitely faced some challenges over the past few decades, not the least of which is that now, thanks to the internet, getting a chance to see a pair of naked breasts just isn’t that big of a deal and certainly not worthy of payment.

Sure, some will claim Playboy has always been more than boobs, and while it is true that they have had some incredibly good people write for them in the past they have never been a business built on literary laurels.

With Hef on his last legs and his daughter stepping down as head of Playboy Industries, it is a big moment for the company.  Will they be able to reinvent themselves for a new generation or will they suffer a fate similar to that of newspapers made irrelevant in today’s webby world?

If Playboy’s first original webseries is any sign of things to come I can’t say that things look good for their future.

Interns” follows three 20-s0methings who are taking part in a seemingly fabricated internship at Playboy.  Instead of taking a tongue-in-cheek approach like, say, ESPN has done with “Mayne Street,” “Interns” plays it straight, hoping that somehow young people will be excited to see just how dull and tedious it really is to work for a magazine publisher, even with all the bunnies hopping around.

Since this is an attempt to get more mainstream there isn’t even any nudity in the series.  In fact, it is clean enough that MySpace hosts their dedicated channel.

Every webseries faces a similar challenge: how to break through all the noise and distraction and get a dedicated audience to follow along over a number of episodes.  So far, “Interns” is getting just over 100,000 views/episode over on MySpace.  Considering the name recognition and potential these numbers seem pretty low.  Check out the most recent episode and you’ll understand why…

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Cutting the Cable – How I Canceled My Cable, Saved $1000/yr and Still Get TV!

Image representing Boxee as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

Just about two weeks ago I completely severed my Time Warner Cable TV service that was costing me right about $80/month.

This was not because I was tired of TV.  In fact, TV is part of my job and keeping up on what’s on is pretty darn important.  Also, I sort of like TV sometimes, so I was not trying to get rid of the content.

So, what have I replaced my cable with?  Here’s the rundown:

1) Boxee – Boxee is still in alpha but I love it.  It is an app that pulls all the major networks web portals into a convenient central location and is completely controlable by my tiny little Mac remote.  Boxee currently gets me access to Hulu, CBS, WB, CNN, Comedy Central and a bunch of other stuff.  Plus, with my Netflix account, the somewhat disappointing but still cool list of “watch now” films and TV shows are also a click away.

2) EyeTV – This is a TV converter that lets me run an over-the-air HD antenna right into my MacBook Pro.  Since I live in NYC this gets me access to HD versions of NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, CW, whatever UPN is called now and a few random things from Ion.

I also got a 20″ external LCD monitor for $99 at Staples and have a set of inexpensive speakers that go into the headphone jack.

This gets me a vast amount of programming for a very low cost.

The few drawbacks: Still some sports I will have to go to a bar to see – but fewer every day and more networks live-stream.  I bought a super-cheap HD antenna and think I will need to upgrade.  To get a really constant signal means a bit of moving the antenna if I change channels.  Still, the picture is great.

There are also a few shows I love that I just can’t get through any network-approved method.  In these rare instances I take advantage of BitTorrent.  While it might fall into the not-quite-legal category it seems pretty obvious how they can stop me – offer the programs online with limited commercials and I am there!

Overall, while it takes a bit more work to get up and running than just flipping on the TV, I find I am more thoughtful about what and when I watch and I also get a huge satisfaction out of the knowledge that Time Warner Cable, a crappy monopoly, is only getting my $40/month for RoadRunner.  If anyone knows a comparable service available in Manahattan please let me know.

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NYT Sees Gold in YouTube’s Hills (wow, bad metaphore…)

Michael Buckley wears a pair of shorts when he...
Michael Buckley –                         Image by feastoffools via Flickr

The NYT has a splashy piece about people making “real” money posting videos on YouTube.

Actually, it’s about one guy making real money, sort of through YouTube and a lot of other outlets.

“What the Buck” is the YouTube show profiled and it is the one most often trotted out to show how great the YouTube partnership program can be for independent video creators.

The only problem with the article is that makes it seem like what Michael Buckley has done is something that is/could become common on YouTube but that’s just not the case.  The vast majority of semi-pro video makers simply don’t put the sort of time, energy and commitment into their work and thus, do not get much in the way of rev-share from YouTube.

It takes a staggering combination of artistic vision and hard work to make a go of it online, to break through all the noise and to actually produce a consistent product that keeps viewers coming back.

While there is nothing especially wrong with the NYT piece, I think it falls short of communicating how impressive it is for Buckley to have done so well.

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Web Apps/Sites I Am Checking Out Right Now

Let’s start with Xtranormal, a site that begins to bring simple animation projects into the realm of the hobbyist:

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Fun to play with but it would be awesome if you could sync in your own voices instead of sticking with the limited CG voices.

Also worth a look is ZunaVision out of Stanford University.  This is another way to place ads or other graphics onto existing video in a less obstusive manner:

Ah, the internet.  Cool stuff.

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Monty Python Makes Radical Decision NOT To Sue Fans


Image by david ॐ via Flickr

It has never been hard to find Monty Python clips on YouTube.  With a pretty geeky fanbase that seems to renew itself with each generation, that’s not very surprising.

Sure, all that material is copyrighted but the MP gang let it go.  For a while.  Now they want to fight back and gain some control over their online library.  If they were anything like RIAA, they would start by identifying their biggest fans, the ones so excited about a long defunct sketch comedy group that they take time to post their clips, and scare ths crap out of them with  legal threats and law suits.

Happily, they’re not RIAA, so this is Monty Python’s approach:

Well played, gentlemen.  Well played.

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The Strange Case of Gabe and Max (and Details)

One its own merits, there is nothing all that wrong with Gabe and Max’s Guide to Style, a sort of silly, campy webseries that pokes fun at male fashion and sexual ambiguity.

The thing that is weird is that it is for Details Magazine, that actually tries to take both of the aforementioned topics pretty darn seriously.  It is almost like they decided to make a webseries that just made fun of everything their magazine stands for.

Adding insult to injury, less that 20,000 people have viewed episode one on YouTube and episode two hasn’t hit 3,000.

As a point of reference, there are currently 22,003 people watching the puppies.

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