Friday 30 January 2015

figurative reality, youtube and my notes on starting 2015

This post started as a three lines at g+. It's now 3,327 words and will take a while to get through.

the g+ bit, i wrote so need this, the Social Blade dashboard, I use it to track highly specialised and targeted media companies ie channels at youtube. Social Blade is the only site that offers a balanced analysis of youtube channels. This is super important. If you're a modest creator, then it could be a small step to give up your day job and scale up.

As a former teacher, I find it uncomfortable to talk revenue, money always clouds judgement and loses academic clarity. But having said that, people working from a home studio now have the power to be in partnership with google/youtube. This means making one video and scaling to as many people who care to watch. If you are fortunate and live in one of the many countries that qualify for the YouTube Partner Program, then every view could get you paid (read many as about 60 countries, i can never find a proper list).
The important part for me, being surprised that google sent me two sets of $100 last year (via adsense). I've never really classed myself as a proper youtube creator. But on comparing what my monetisation data told me against some other channels (with Social Blade's help), I was able to piece together an expected earning rate for others.

And here's the surprise, there are some very silent channels out there, some that are taking the world by storm. They are the ones who have no face and no personal name, just great videos with millions of views (I'm not getting into who they are here).

With my all studies into YouTube Audience Retention, it's given me a perspective to evaluate the efficiency of a channel. And then dispel a few of the many myths. 

YouTube is not so full of those personality vloggers - it just so appears they are the ones who seem to be mainstream media newsworthy. 

With all the talk of collaborations, it seems they are fuelled by their respective network. And YouTube themselves are making it easier than ever for a creator to do it alone (and not rely on a said network).
My benchmark is to look at data post October 2013 - look at a channel data for Views (and not Subscribers). Views get you paid - subscribers do not. 

Media will often say, ''Sally has 8.9m subscribers, wow'' .. that means nothing. Some channels have a huge view number, but as it's all about people behaviour, many will watch and come back for more, but just not hit the sub button (of course, having a ton of subs will help get those views, but as a rule when I am channel checking, I want to know views). The social blade calculator is brilliant for this.
end note 1 The worst part for me, the more evidence & data I'm getting - the worst it's getting. Some people have told me not to look at the success stories and to ignore the top five percent. 
I read that as wanting to run really fast, but making sure you never watch or learn from Usain Bolt. Or wanting to sing, but not being aware of the busking Ed Sheeran, who got better and later played Wembley. 
This is all about survival in a changing world. I've said before we need to pay attention to what's under our feet, watch what our hands are grappling with and then try hard to work against the gravity of our bad habits.
For then, and only then, we can properly hear and we can definitely see. Those kind of ideas have been here since the beginning of time. Where only now technology and the web, is allowing us to see through walls while stepping across time zones and be anywhere and everywhere in realtime.
There are themes that live on like the an opportunity only exists if you can see it. Or the many social games like if only... or well, it's ok for them... or if it weren't for you (for more on the games people play look up Dr Eric Berne).
In a simpler form, it's like saying, we all have a pen and paper, so why aren't we all novelists? Or artists, or architects, or mathematicians? It could be, we just don't know how. My idea is here is a philosophical one, a little like if something is so easy, then why don't we all do it? It can applied to healthy eating, exercise or reading books in a library. The seat must be in people's wants, needs and their ability to tell one from the other.
I think we are giving up quite fast on the people we know face to face (and the opinions or help they provide). I do not mean that in a bad way..
For example, years ago, we would go to the local bar, ask around for a solution to a problem, stare into space and thrash out an answer (all with little or no factual injection). Now, the web gives us virtually any answer in seconds - but as human animals, we are lame and unpredictable. If a fast answer is given to a hard problem - maybe it's in our nature to dismiss it. I'm rambling, but at least I'm rambling in public :)

If it fits for you, get out there are make short timeless videos that hold a viewer's interest. 

Each upload, will cost you virtually nothing to produce, and can scale to a global community immediately. 

That's to say, one heartfelt baked real life muffin cannot do this - as soon as it's eaten, it's over. When you do this in video, it will last for ever.

Be careful a this point, as the nay sayers will give you more doubts than grains of sand on a beach. You will get people tell you how for every video that has a million views, there will be a million other videos, exactly the same, with just one view each.

Maybe so, but what's the cost to try? And if you have done your data homework, you will have nothing to lose.

Children do not blink, they will devour any adult that steps in their path, or dares to stamp on their dream. Yet adults do blink, and they blink a lot, they tremble and they do give up, and sometimes very fast. Do not let that happen to you.
Exercise your freedom and create something truly special. As the web was founded on a network of niches, it's easy to play to your strengths. 

Look beyond the literal and delve into the figurative. 

For me, that's dipping into the twenty years of classroom teaching, and why I spent all day designing and teaching lessons to seven to eleven year olds. Why I had to make it fun with play, to convince those young minds to get involved and better themselves.
The test and we've all been there is to, let an hour slip by like it was a few minutes. Or the torture of a few minutes seeming like a day. We need hope and we need spirit.
The ultimate test for me, to produce a video that plays on a loop in an airport. Where a family are stranded for a few hours while waiting for that delayed flight.
On a screen in the lounge, maybe without sound, is a set of watchable images that tell a story. It maybe a sequence about baby animals, a spider's web, eyes or the sun rising and setting - it really does not matter. 

It takes people away, for a few minutes, it alleviates their humdrum. It allows them to escape reality.
The art will be in the arrangement and the beat. I class my job title these days as a beat sheet writer. It means, I take an idea and solve a puzzle with it. 

Create a storyboard, with or without words, often with music to tell a story in my target 90 seconds. I need to take out everything that isn't needed.
Everyone of these digital creations must be about love. If it isn't then I won't do it. In fact, I can't do it. I have to invest a part of myself into that event. 

Every one of these should be poetic - about freedom and about life.

But here's the thing, it's killing me. As an educator, it's natural for me to help others, but as a realist it's just not working. 

People just don't want to know. For example, I watched a brilliant animation video, it had 133k views, the creator made another video showing how he made it - it had just 14k views.

Maybe it's the human nature where we want to eat the cake, watch the movie or wear those lovely shoes - without any regard for how it was made, or how you can do it yourself?
Which leads me the one thing that I loathed in teaching - the endless marking and assessment. I was all for telling each child how valuable they were, how they could improve their work and be a better person. I was against the never ending justification to record all of this on paper for the headteacher, the inspectors and the metal filing cabinet (that's british education system.
The trick here is to make everything work for you. I love, like Love finding and enjoying what other people create - it makes my day. 

It's the moment in a video, the serpentine line in an image, or the skilful use of a few words in a post. 

I would say I've made more online friends than any other way, by spotting and saying something about what they have done. I think I put myself second - it's in my nature.
Paying homage One easy and fulfilling way for me, to give a shout out, kudos, props, to big up, pay respect, celebrate or give a pat on the back to others. 

I've tormented myself recently, on how I make my next move in this online world.
When the idea of homage first came to me, I said out loud, I can live with that

It was like doing the thing I've done in all my teaching career, to just smile and say well done, often with an assertive tick next to a child's work.
It's worth saying how I taught these people, not all of them but some. The same twenty something youtube creators of today, were the seven year olds in my class yesterday. I have been with them all along. 

While I feel age is totally irrelevant in all this, I will say the seven year olds I taught in 1992 will be thirty years old in 2015. Which is no surprise the web talks of millennials as the key (those born around the year 2000).
With that in mind it's really simple, I go out, look for anything at all that is truly inspiring, it could be a person, a thing or an idea. And then I make something, in this case a short video (while obeying all the rules like copyright).
It's really important to say, I have no self and no ego in this - it's not in me. The truth here is to celebrate the good, not hard on about the bad, then dismiss it. In teacher training we were told, praise the positive, and if you do say anything negative, make sure you make up for it with nine other positives.
Students sometimes crave attention, and in a volatile classroom situation (I was a supply/substitute teacher sent into schools, often where other teachers had failed) that meant getting a class onside pretty fast. So when you saw a child kicking tables and chairs, throwing stuff around, sometimes the best policy was to just ignore in the hope they would stop. They often did (yes so much psychology in play).
But in the online world we have created, there is so much noise. No more so than the endless gossip and spreading rumours. I have no time for it, I see it all as playground talk. A lie will circle the playground much faster than truth (as people know, I've followed the news for a few years, I've now virtually stopped - I've made peace with it all).
I also cannot cope with reality, it's too terrible. And I know I'm not the only one. From stopping class teaching and focussing on blogging and looking outward at the world, not a day goes by without balance.
I called 2015, the art of noise and for people like me, if not all of us, we witness the world in realtime. And it's not pretty, not the parts that get to us first. I realised a month ago, the opening statement to someone face to face was the news and usually what was terrible news that day.
For any conscious human being, they would ask themselves what they can do to make a difference, and if your conclusion is nothing at all then it may destroy you. I cannot let that happen to me. On reading a book a few years back, the author said at the end he thought life was like a see saw, good things up one end and bad the other. 

What he said, make sure that balance weighs just a little, like a tiny amount in favour of good. The realist may say, it's a win at 51:49 .. I guess my aim here in 2015 is to be less angry. I think to balance the inside of me, to what's on the outside.
As I work alone, and many of us do these days, it relies on a system that works. For me, I have mechanisms in place, I write a lot of stuff down on paper pads. No one ever reads them except me. I have a list of people I class as heroes, people who I can go to for inspiration (these are real people who have done something I admire). 

I put myself in a situation, usually outdoors that gets as close to nature as I can get. This often involves wildlife and I just listen, I'm always alone - you need to do this for at least few hours. It's at that point, you will feel bursts of being truly alive. It's like hearing every twig break at eight metres, every scratch of a squirrels claw on tree bark, or the rare sight of being eye to eye with a wild deer (that's my favourite, until you have done it you will never know).
Last idea I use, take any simple object and split it down to it's simplest form and figure out why it became into being. This will help you understand the passage of time and design. One example is the arrow, on how it has a pile up front (of heavy mass) and a nock at the back (with vanes).. somewhere is the centre of mass, and also the centre of drag. As the arrow flies, it must have the drag behind the centre of mass - otherwise it will not fly, it will be unstable ..
The lesson here, slow down and find your own pace and your own place. And for me that's creating stuff that I like and what others may find interesting, maybe I can just about cope with the world. As a kid, I was natural at maths, I had no clue I was until I was twelve. I sat the summer exam (along with a few hundred other people) and I came second. I was hauled up in front of the year head and promoted to the top class. I always loved playing Chess too. It was the most intense, pure and emotionally draining gameplay I've ever experienced.  I think it was about love too.
Which is exactly about the geometry and simple math involved in making a short video. It's about expression for me, matching the emotions of a heartbeat with what you see on screen. How each second of each clip is made up of a set of frames, each with their own rules, order and behaviours.
I was not blessed with the ability to sing, play a musical instrument or draw. However, I do have an eye for detail and an ability to join a few dots. As a kid, I studied black and white photography which still remains a love to this day.
Video allows us to speed up and slow down time. We can create anything we want. I don't really think there is a difference between crying as we are happy or crying as we are sad, all we know - something has broken us in two. This can happen a few seconds into a youtube video, the start of a movie or even the written word. It's the visual images our brain receives in tandem with how that matches to the truth of our own lives.

figurative reality meets the mercenary where our passion and voice allow us the freedom to do anything at all. One of the ways any of us go about breathing from one day to the next is to understand the cockpit of our brain, and how that interacts with our heart. Especially those people, like me, who work and create alone.
Recently, I've been looking at how a pilot, navigator (and cargo) work together. A pilot steers, a navigator plans while the cargo does very little or a lot (depending on the task). Stepping back, there is the overarching purpose that binds them all together. An example would be a helicopter team (to search and rescue, but also to be part of a much larger idea, like serving in the RAF, the oldest independent air force in the world). In the real world, aircraft can have a single pilot doing all these jobs, or up the ten (in a B-17). 
If we equate that back to youtube and creating videos on your own, then there has to be a mercenary element (I prefer the latin of hiring for reward as opposed to the broad, primarily concerned with making money at the expense of ethics). Whatever it is, it's Get the job > Get in > Get out > Get paid.

wrapping up I invite anyone to build some youtube longevity and set out their stall. There is enough room for everyone. There are 1,142 free music tracks and thousands of sound effects to get you started. All you need is an idea..

This is all about people and their behaviours fitting in with their culture. Although it's not really about technology (like computers and cameras at all), the education to use them is required, but again I am a self taught video editor as I watch a ton of youtube videos.

They are animals first and humans second. That's what I told myself as a teacher when I had a tough class to tame. I had to position myself, and the class in such a way to increase every chance that learning would break out. There are so many what ifs in play. No real different than launching a post on the web.
Again, look at the history of smoke signals, messages in a bottle, carrier pigeons, morse code, a helium balloon or a snail mail letter.. all examples of what came before the fantastic audio visual experience that is the video at youtube.
Talking of math, what would you rather have, a million dollars right now or a penny doubled for 30 days? Of course, day 22 sees you break past the million (with 536.8m by day 30). My point, you need one to start, a zero times by two is still a zero.

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