Kickstarter

My newest web fascination is Kickstarter.

I’m by no means an early adopter of the crowd-funding site, which has been around since 2009, but after recently discovering it, I’m pretty close to hooked on it. If you’re a creative person looking to fund a project, it’s definitely a website worth looking into.  Coupled with the power of social media, it’s no surprise to see successfully-funded projects raising five, six and even seven figures by enthusiastic people like you and me, eager to see someone’s vision become a reality.

As a creative person whose first steps in the art and illustrative world were comic book-based, this also gives me ideas for how I may be able to take a few things “off the back burner” and try to finally make them real. So for that burst of inspiration, I say thanks Kickstarter!

Kickstarter projects are all independently created, meaning if John Doe has a really cool idea for a film, Doe and his team will produce that film (if successfully funded). Kickstarter is a platform to let people know about it, but the site does not take any role in the development of that work.  For a project to be made, it must be successfully funded – meaning that, when a creator posts their project, they set a financial goal.  If that goal is met, they go into production.  If it’s not, then the backers’ donations are returned and the project gets no funding. Kickstarter calls this “all-or-nothing funding” and on the website says that, to date, 44 percent of projects have met their goals. Learn more about how Kickstarter works here.

From technology to games to art, there is a wide array of projects to choose from on the site.  As a comic/graphic novel/film fan, I’ve tended to lean towards those projects while casually searching the site, but not exclusively.  Thanks to social media, I’ve also discovered a few interesting things outside of those categories.

Here are a few current projects I’ve discovered:

ART STORY

This is an animated feature film that Disney veterans Aaron Blaise and Chuck Williams want to produce. They’re seeking $350,000 to get this made, and from what I can see of the film so far, it looks impressive.  Of course, this taps into a few of my passions – animation, film and art history. I’m not yet a backer, but expect to be soon.  The story is about 11-year-old Walt and his grandfather, known simply as Grandpa, and their adventures after they magically get sucked into some of history’s most famous works of art.

Learn more from Aaron and Chuck in the following video:

 

POWER-UP POKER

What happens when 8-bit power ups are added to Texas Hold ‘Em?  That’s the question that led Casey Ayers to create Power-Up Poker, which seeks to put a new twist on one of the world’s most popular card games while at the same time tapping into nostalgia with its 8-bit Nintendo-esque flavor. Casey needs $17,000 to fund this endeavor, which has a week left in its fundraising period.

This particular project, of which I am a backer, is one I might not have found by casually searching the site, as it falls outside of my general search categories.  But thanks to Twitter, I learned about this project from Casey, who is a fellow #NASASocial alum.

Learn more about Power-Up Poker from Casey himself:

 

SPIKE LEE

Most Kickstarter creators are unknowns. But once in a while, you’ll find an  established professional like Zach Braff, a TV show like Veronica Mars or, currently, a filmmaker like Spike Lee turning to Kickstarter, which I find pretty interesting. It’s a truly creative community on Kickstarter, which is pretty cool. Spike is looking for $1,250,000 to fund his next Spike Lee Joint. If you back this project for $10,000 you can even sit courtside, front row with Spike at a New York Knicks game in Madison Square Garden. As of this post, there are already three $10,000 backers.

 

What cool Kickstarter projects have you discovered?  Have you backed any?

 

YouTube Capture

So, a funny thing happened while I was tweeting about my last blog entry, in which I looked at Instagram and Vine video and wondered why YouTube wasn’t yet in that space.

Twitter user @emeyerson pointed out that YouTube did have a similar app available:  YouTube Capture.

So, while Vine and Instagram video have gathered significant buzz in their short lifetimes, YouTube Capture – at least in my circles – has remained relatively invisible.  I’m not really sure why that is (I may devote a separate blog to that later), but I was excited to learn this tool existed and I have begun using it to compare to those other, more popular social-video-sharing apps.  Here are my initial thoughts and observations.

THE GOOD

YouTube Capture gently reminds the user to record their video in landscape mode.

First and foremost, YouTube Capture does what I wish Instagram and Vine did: It shoots video the way  you expect to see it. Or, at least, the way you expected to see it before those square-video apps came along.  When the app is open, on-screen icons will adapt to the screen depending on if it’s in portrait or landscape mode.  But if you try to record video in portrait mode, the app gently reminds you to turn your phone 90 degrees, as seen at left.

This function is known as “Landscape lock” in the app.

YouTube Capture 2Knowing that, one might try to outsmart the app by simply turning off “Landscape lock,” which you can certainly do.  Before you do, though, YouTube Capture gives you the message seen at right, gently reminding you that if you do this, your video will suck.

Kudos to you, YouTube. Kudos.

Another aspect of this app I like is it does not limit you to six or 15 seconds.  You can record as long or as short as you wish.  I will admit that six and 15 second-videos do force you to think creatively, but in a number of instances are just not enough to get the job done.

I’ve produced a variety of digital videos in my career and am trained to think about video in the one-to-two minute context.  While I have had some fun with Vine and Instagram, I also need the option to record longer.

Another thing I really like about this app is the Soundtracks feature.  Once you’ve recorded with YouTube Capture, you can choose from a selection of moody music to go along with it. Once you select a track, you can also adjust its volume so it doesn’t drown out your main audio.

THE NOT-SO-GOOD

As much as I do like the ability to record longer videos in YouTube Capture, I wish I could edit video in the app like Vine and Instagram do. In those, you can incorporate multiple shots into one video simply by tapping.  YouTube Capture doesn’t offer this option, meaning anything you shoot and share has to be recorded in one take. Hopefully, in-app editing will be available in a future iteration, because that function is probably one of the main reasons Vine and Instagram have become so popular.

THE JURY’S STILL OUT

I’ve had mixed results with the social sharing from YouTube Capture.  It seems to communicate really well with Twitter.  It also links up with Google+ pretty well, EXCEPT for the fact that the video thumbnails all look like some trippy emoticon on top of a gradient, as seen below.

YouTubeCapture on GooglePlus

There were also some issues playing video in the Google+ iPhone app, although simply upgrading the app to its latest version seems to rectify that.  Still, YouTube, can’t we do something about those thumbnails?  Or, if there’s something I can do on my end – some setting I might have missed somewhere, perhaps? – please let me know.

(Because these crazy emoticon faces are really starting to creep me out.)

As for Facebook, the results have been inconsistent. I tried sharing several videos with Facebook, but only saw one of them actually show up.   And that video does not appear on my timeline, but went into my “Recent Activity” module on my profile. It did receive a ‘like’ from a friend, so I know that it was at least seen by some others, but it feels hidden and buried inside my profile. In all fairness to YouTube Capture, though, I’ve also found Vine video to be inconsistent when I try sharing it (I haven’t shared enough Instagram video with Facebook to comment on it).  Since that may be a FB setting I haven’t uncovered yet, I will not yet hold that against YouTube.

Thankfully, videos recorded in the app are also stored to your camera roll, so a workaround for that is simply uploading the video directly to Facebook once it’s been shot.

Speaking of Facebook, I would also like the ability to share with one or more pages that I administer, from the YouTube Capture app.  When I initially linked my accounts, I only had the option to link my personal FB account to it.  Assuming that my previously-noted sharing issues with FB are resolved, I can see some enormous benefit with being able to share to a page as well.

THE BAD

YouTube Capture is only available on ios devices (iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch).  Depending on which online site you believe, an Android version is coming, but I couldn’t find an ETA for it.  I find this curious, due to the union of YouTube and Google and considering the Google Play Store services Android devices.  So, I have to believe it’s only a matter of time before it does come to Android devices.  Still, the clock is ticking, YouTube…

WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN?

First and foremost, I’m continuing to test and use the app.  But so far, I like what I see.  A lot. In the immediate future, make this app available to Android users. In the near future, if YouTube could incorporate some in-app editing capabilities, I would be ecstatic.  Thanks again to @emeyerson on Twitter for pointing this one out to me.  If you enjoy sharing video, this is definitely an app I’d recommend you download and try out.  And please, let me know what you think about it.  Tweet me at @carnolddesigns, comment here or email me at chris@carnolddesigns.com.

Vine, Instagram and YouTube

YouTube CaptureUPDATE: After originally posting this, Twitter user EMey (@emeyerson) pointed out YouTube Capture, a free iPhone and Android app that was recently released.  I’ve downloaded it and will test this out to see how it compares to the 6- and 15-second apps.  When you install it and sign in, it gives you options to link to YouTube (duh), Google+, Facebook and Twitter.  It also gives you recording options like “Landscape Lock” and some image enhancing capabilities. There are no time-limits that I see at first glance, so you could record a lot more than 15 seconds if you so choose.   I’m eager to see how quickly/easily it shares between the social media but, so far, it looks promising.

 

Instagram-Vine-YouTube

 

The big social media news this week revolved around Instagram and its introduction of a Vine-like video-sharing capability. Some of my peers are excited by Instagram’s longer videos – up to 15 seconds versus Vine’s 6 second cap, its array of available filters and an impressive anti-shake technology.  I’ve tried Instagram video a little this week and, so far, I think I’m most impressed by that last item.

When the news broke, I was asked by a visibly-enthused journalist-colleague ‘How excited are you by the news?’  To which, I just shrugged.  The news didn’t exactly give me goosebumps.   Yes, Instagram and Vine videos are fun to use.  One of their biggest appeals (if not their biggest) is the ease and speed at which you can record and post something.

MORE THAN FUN?

Are these apps more than fun?  While ‘fun’ is a fine purpose in and of itself – I mean, come on, who doesn’t like to have fun? – what other purposes exist for these apps?  I think we’re still figuring that out.

From a journalist’s perspective, it’s important to look at apps like these as a component of a story that may utilize a variety of media.  Take, for instance, a breaking news event like a brush fire.  Journalists are now tweeting from the scene as their stories are being written. They’ve been trained to take iPhone photos and immediately post them to social media.  Vine and Instagram videos give these storytellers another tool to quickly share details of the scene with our audience.

Other industries are finding other uses for these tools, and because they are so easy to use and to post, their popularity continues to grow.

COULD YOUTUBE BE NEXT?

This is purely speculation on my part, but one of the recurring themes in this week’s news is Facebook/Instagram taking on Twitter/Vine.  So where does that leave Google/YouTube?  Google recently entered the social media space with its Google+, and is already married to the original online video-sharing service.  While Google+ is still trying to compete with Facebook and Twitter in terms of social, it is still the number one search engine.  And depending on which survey you follow, YouTube comes in behind it at number 2.

YouTube already knows how to share videos well.  Google, with its assortment of office apps, mapping solutions and search tools, knows how to do everything.  To me, it seems like it would be relatively easy – and a no-brainer – for YouTube to add that capacity.

Vine’s original purpose was to share video.  Instagram originally served to share photos, and has so far received pretty positive response for adding this video component – a move, to many, that just seems natural.  Imagine if YouTube, which has been all about video from the get-go, entered this space.

IS IT REALLY HIP TO BE SQUARE?

If YouTube does enter this space, I hope it doesn’t emulate the square video precedent set by Vine and Instagram.  Call me a video purist, a cinematic snob if you must, but I’m a 16×9 guy.  I like wide video, and as fun as Vine and Instagram may be, I still wish the video was wide.   I can’t be the only one.  Maybe YouTube can give us the aspect ratio we’re used to?

My other gripe about the square video model set by Vine and Instagram?  You can only shoot your video with your phone held in a vertical position.  This particularly gives me a headache because, as someone who’s led training sessions on producing smart phone video, the number one item I stress is turning your phone to its horizontal (landscape) position to shoot video.  Learn more about this in the PSA for “Vertical Video Syndrome” below.

Doing this with Vine or Instagram, however, doesn’t work, and may recondition people to shoot vertical video in other video apps.  And, excuse me while I rant a minute, but if the final video is going to be square anyway, why not make it so you can shoot that video with your phone vertically or horizontally?

DOES  YOUTUBE NEED THIS TO REMAIN RELEVANT?

YouTube is synonymous with online video.  And being united with Google helps its videos rank high in search.  But does it risk becoming stale if it lets this very real video craze pass by? Time will tell.   But, really, what does YouTube have to lose by not at least exploring this capability?

It is fun, after all, to share quick-hit videos with family and friends.  And, really, who doesn’t like to have fun?

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

What are your impressions of this quick-and-easy, square-video craze?  Share your thoughts in the comments below, or tweet me @carnolddesigns.

 

Vine 101

So, despite my best efforts to resist, I gave in and have been using Vine for the last month or so.

(Aside: I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out to my colleague, Laurie Blandford, who was enthusiastically sharing Vine with pretty much everyone in the office after she got hooked by it.  This is all your fault, Laurie. All. Your. Fault.)

But I must admit – it’s actually an app (and social network) that I have fun using.

A LITTLE BACKGROUND

So, for those unfamiliar with Vine, you may be familiar with its parent company, Twitter. In the same way that Twitter makes you be concise in 140 characters or less, Vine allows you to record and share up to six seconds of video.

Yes, you read that right. Six seconds of video.

This was the source of my initial apprehension with the app.

As a multimedia journalist with a background in digital video production, I’m used to producing content anywhere from about 30 seconds up to nine or 10 minutes in length, with the average being one-to-two minutes. But six seconds?

Yes, six seconds. Just go with it.

USING VINE

The Vine app is incredibly simple to use

Here’s a quick look at the Vine app’s interface.

The Vine app, which is available only on iPhone, is amazingly simple to use. It doesn’t burden the user with an abundance of functions or controls. Simply press the ‘Camera’ icon in the upper right-hand corner, then tap the screen to record video. It will record for as long as you press the screen, up to six seconds. When you take your finger off the screen, it will pause, allowing you to cut to another scene if you wish.

Users can add hashtags, tag users or add location information to their posts as well, which are functions familiar to users of Twitter, Instagram and other media.

You can only share video that you record using the Vine app. So, if you happen to have a five-second clip shot with your phone’s native camera – sorry, not going to work.

WHEN IT WORKS…

Creative people thrive off creative challenges. While exploring what users are sharing on Vine, I found a few sources of inspiration, including:

1. Stop-motion animation. There’s lots of it on Vine, and a lot of it’s done really well. Like this one, by yelldesign, which is featured in the Editor’s Picks section:

2. Brian Carroll. Who would’ve though post-it notes and lip-synching would be a recipe for fun on Vine? Apparently, Brian Carroll did, and he’s one of my favorite Viners because of 6-second clips like this one:

3. Loops. When your first frame and your last frame are the same (or pretty darn close), you can create a pretty interesting clip that loops on and on and on. Like this one, by Charlie Love.

HOW I USE VINE

I’m still discovering my “Vine” voice, but so far I have:

  • Experimented with stop-motion and plan to do more;
  • Used it to share quick behind-the-scenes/scene-setter visuals (from photo assignments and work events) with my Twitter followers (as well as the Vine community);
  • Taken lots of videos of my basset hound, Missy – like this one:

What can I say? I’m a sucker for my furry, four-legged, brown-eyed girl.

HOW DO YOU USE VINE?
Follow me on Vine, or connect with me on Twitter and share with me some of your own Vine creations. You can find me on Twitter as @carnolddesigns.

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