Inside artists' studios with Etsy

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With Creator's Corner readers in mind, the folks at Etsy recently pointed us to their series called "Process." Rather than being step-by-step instructional videos, the series brings you into artists' studios and demonstrates, in a very creative and intimate way, how crafters do what they do. Here's an example about someone who makes felted mouse booties:

Making behind-the-scenes videos like this is a great way to take your viewers inside your creative process and make them feel like they know you. Etsy also makes some helpful how-to videos, which speak to the crafter, but actually contain lots of widely applicable tips. Go to their YouTube channel for the whole selection.

Meet Arturo Perez: Project Report '09 Winner

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Last year, Arturo Perez won the Project Report contest for aspiring journalists. This year, he's back with a short documentary film called "Jerusalem: War in My Land," which is now playing in the Screening Room. Here, he discusses the intersection of citizen reporting and documentary filmmaking, winning contests on YouTube.

As a winner of Project Report, what advice would you give someone who's entering a YouTube contest for the first time?

Read the rules and be strict about following them. There's a reason why they exist. Then, (and most important) be creative and think outside the box. Try to go above and beyond what the contest is asking. You want to make something that will surprise the judges and that will immediately stand out.

With the advent of video, the line between citizen reporting and documentary filmmaking is becoming more blurred than ever. Can you talk a little bit about the differences and where you see this trending?

I agree. Everyone has a voice now. But this comes with responsibility for being balanced, fair and honest. Citizen reporters have to take this seriously. But how exciting is it that anyone with a compelling story can make a film now? Five to 10 years ago this would not be possible. I see citizen journalists playing a very important role in how we get our news and how important and compelling stories will be told.

What are the elements of a great piece of citizen reporting? 

I think it’s the same elements that any good narrative or good doc have. A good character(s), a focused narrative and narrative device, and a unique story.

Can you tell us a bit about your process for getting the most from the subjects you interview?

Listen. Listen. Listen. Too many interviewers ask questions and don’t listen because they are worried about asking the next question. If you listen to your subjects and ask questions based on what they are saying, it will be much better, you’ll get good interviews. Also, smile. If you smile, you’ll make them feel at ease. Weird? Maybe. But it works.

What new opportunities do you see for young documentary filmmakers trying to establish their voice? What are the new challenges?

A young person right now doesn’t have to wait to raise money to tell a compelling story. They can just do it, and that’s very exciting. The challenges? It can seem like there are too many people trying to do the same thing and you can get discouraged. But you just have to work harder than anyone else, and trust that people will enjoy and feel moved by your work.

Broadcast yourself with YouTube business cards from MOO



Yo, creators! We're partnering with to get you free YouTube business cards (all you pay is shipping and handling). Get a peek at what these could look like below, and read the full post in our blog for all the details.

Weekend Project: Calling Teen Documentarians in U.S.

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This one's for all the teens out there with nothing to do this weekend. AFIScreenNation is teaming up with YMCA Y-Arts for a contest called TEENDOCS. The top three films will be screened at the AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs International Documentary Conference held in June 2010 in Silver Spring, Maryland.

The task is simple (sort of): make a video about something you have an emotional interest in.

Outside of that, visit for the official rules, but right here, right now you should also know that:

- It's open to all 13- to 19-year-olds living in the U.S.
- The films must be 10 minutes or less
- You must upload your film to YouTube, and then submit the link to your film at
- You may enter as many films as you wish
- Films are due by May 1, 2010

For inspiration, check out some of the powerful films submitted by teens so far, as well as the "how-to" videos on the AFIScreenNation channel:

Teen cancer survivor:

Post-Katrina waters:

Get started!

Meet Nash Edgerton: Filmmaker, Stuntman, Dark Humorist



Nash Edgerton is an award-winning director, former stuntman and member of the film collective Blue Tongue Films. His film "Spider" has notched over half a million views on YouTube, and his feature-length film, "The Square," is now playing in theaters across the U.S. In this interview, he discusses the importance of screening your film to an in-person audience and the collaborative process of a collective.

Can you talk about how you guys work as a collective?

Basically, Blue Tongue Films is a loose collective of filmmakers who help out on each other's projects in whatever capacity they can. We encourage each other to make stuff. We give feedback on each other's work. It's like a healthy competition thing. You help your friends make the best film they can so that it inspires you to have something new to show that is hopefully as good or better than the last thing.

Do you ever use YouTube for inspiration?

YouTube is a great source of inspiration. Sometimes it's great to find reference material; other times, purely for entertainment. Not a day goes by where someone in the gang doesn't send one or more things on for the others to check out.

What's your distribution strategy for your short films?

We always first send our short films to the major film festivals because, as filmmakers, the first time you really get to see your film and know whether it has worked is through the eyes of other people. Seeing it with a crowd and getting their instant reaction is very telling. After that, the films usually play some of the smaller festivals as well as various TV stations around the world that take short films; now we have started putting them on YouTube as well. The picture quality of YouTube has really improved, and I think it is a great way to share our work with people all around the world. YouTube really has given filmmakers an opportunity to gain a much wider audience than ever before for short content.

Your film "Spider" was one of the early popular hits on YouTube. Why do you think it resonated with so many people?

"Spider" came out at a time when short films on YouTube really started to take off. It gets quite a vocal reaction from people – and people seem to love watching other people watch it. Maybe I'm not as alone with my dark sense of humor as I thought I was. :)

Where do you see independent film distribution heading in the next five years?

Independent film distribution is constantly changing. I hope that people will continue to see films in the cinema, as some films are really meant to be seen on the big screen with a large group of people. But the marketing is definitely being focused more and more online. You really think about who you think your audience is before you put it out in the world. With so many things out there vying for people's attention, every film really needs to be treated differently and marketed carefully to find its audience.

What would be your most important piece of advice for someone who's just finished shooting their short film?

Make sure you get to see your film with a large audience. It is the best way to find out for yourself whether the film works or not. And don't just give up if you get knocked back by the first bunch of film festivals or places that you send your film to. You can't please everybody.

Behind the Name: MuggleSam


Following VenetianPrincess's revelations on the origin of her YouTube channel name, MuggleSam confirms what you might have guessed about hers:

"I am a huge Harry Potter fan so when I was trying to come up with a YouTube username in 2006, I had Harry Potter on the brain. I came up with MuggleSam. In the Harry Potter books a muggle is a person without any magical powers. Basically a normal human. And Sam is short for my name Samantha. I then handed my daughter a Harry Potter doll and that was the inspiration for our very first YouTube video."

Secrets to making a great nonprofit video

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Today, we announced the winners of the YouTube Nonprofit Video Awards, a celebration of the best videos from organizations in the YouTube Nonprofit Program over the past year. The four victorious videos are spotlighted on the YouTube homepage today.

Over 750 videos were submitted to this year’s awards, ranging from quirky narratives about how life on another planet relates to equal rights on Earth to honest testimonials from young dancers. In other words, these videos don’t have a lot in common, except for these central tenets which should guide anyone wanting to create compelling videos for nonprofit organizations. (If this is you, please check out our Video Volunteers program.)

1. Content is still king

First and foremost, you want to make sure that your video is appropriate for the organizational goals you want to hit. Before you start filming, sit down and figure out what you want to accomplish and whom you want to reach. A video targeting high-dollar donors may look very different from one that’s intended to train your volunteers.

Then, think about ways that you can put a creative spin on your video. Good, original content — whether it’s heartfelt and serious or light and humorous — goes a long way on YouTube. Here are a few approaches you may think about taking:

a) Tell serial stories. Engage viewers with a series of videos that tell a story around a specific theme, and keep them coming back for more. Once you've created a few episodes, put them into a playlist. This allows you to develop several video narratives targeted at particular demographics. A good example is Rainforest Action Network’s “Greenwash of the Week” series or “Oxfam’s Green Granny” series.

b) Respond to current events. Address relevant news stories by posting videos that explain your position. You can then embed them in emails to your supporters — a video message can be more effective than a text-laden email. Also, users are probably more likely to be searching for topics currently in the news and may be more likely to find your video organically through the YouTube search bar. You’ll want to be sure to tag your video with timely and relevant words.

c) Make your audience part of the video. Using annotations, you can create a “choose your own adventure”-style video, which puts the viewer in the driver’s seat and allows them to decide their video “fate.” Two great nonprofit examples of this style are “A Different Ending,” a campaign combating knife crime in the U.K., and “That’s Not Cool,” a campaign from the Ad Council about staying safe online.

2. You don’t need a Hollywood budget to succeed

Gone are the days when you need a large camera crew to make sure people watch your video; some of the most successful videos on YouTube have been created with an extremely minimal budget. Your organization can get started with video even if you only have a few hundred dollars; for example, the Flip Video Spotlight program offers nonprofits a two-for-one deal on their Flip Ultra cameras (which averages out to about $60 per camera).

Another alternative, if you’re low on staff and monetary resources, is to participate in the YouTube Video Volunteers. Each month, the program features a different issue (this month it’s climate change) and matches nonprofits who need help with video creation with passionate YouTube users who can produce content. The top three volunteer videos are put on the YouTube homepage at the end of the month. Here are the winning videos from last round, which focused on global development:

3. It’s OK to follow the leader

Here’s a piece of advice your boss will probably never give you: start watching a few popular YouTube videos every day, even if they have seemingly nothing to do with your organization. You may not see the connection between your issues and Fred, a sneezing panda or Dancing Matt, but these videos are resonating with a huge number of people on YouTube. See if you can replicate elements of these viral videos in your own organization’s content. Seriously, couldn’t Keyboard Cat be the next poster cat for animal welfare?

The Pink Glove Dance,” arguably the most viral nonprofit video ever with over 8 million views, followed this method beautifully. The Portland St. Vincent Medical Center snatched a page right out of the J.K. Wedding playbook.

Nonprofits can also apply for the YouTube Nonprofit Program, available in U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia, which offers free premium perks like branded channels, the ability to add call-to-action overlays to videos to drive traffic to external sites, and the ability to add a Google Checkout button to your channel. These tools can add another layer of interactivity to the content you’re creating.

Comedian heads to TV while sticking to his roots: "Producing for YouTube means freedom"

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Comedian PaulTelner is one of YouTube's most popular Canadian partners and recently parlayed his YouTube experience into a show on MuchMusic. His co-writer is his director/editor Jason Fisher, and they also maintain a separate behind-the-scenes channel, which makes all their hard work look like a lot of fun. Telner took a break from telling people they're "sooooo weird" to do this interview.

Where do you get inspiration for your sketches? 

We love silly; LOL moments where you can just sit back and laugh at weird / irreverent situations. Most things preach they have to have meaning, but we really like the David Letterman/Andy Kaufman school of comedy: the absurd, the random and the weird. When I play a character, we pull from real life. Everyone we meet has traits we find pretty funny. We try and adapt the ones that really make us laugh.

How did you catch the eye of MuchMusic? 

Our YouTube channels! They were interested in doing something prankish, daring and fun. They liked the edge and look of what we were doing online. Some existing segments from YouTube, and new material we shot airs on MuchMusic on their flagship daily entertainment series called MuchOnDemand. It also airs as half-hour prime time specials.

How do you think traditional media like TV can enhance your YouTube presence and vice versa? 

Producing for YouTube means freedom; no notes from execs and total control. People who know us through YouTube get excited when they see that you're on TV. It's like your community has finally gotten recognition from the mainstream media. 

Being on TV can redirect people to our online presence. 

Thanks to producing all this content for YouTube it’s given us more experience and skills to produce for TV. 

What advice would you give to other YouTube users who want to make a career in online video? 

BE ORIGINAL. Understand how YouTube works. See what’s out there, what’s missing, but it comes back to being yourself. YouTube has a place for your voice. 

Interact with your audience. 

Work as hard as you can to entertain and create something you're proud of. 

YouTube can be a very inspiring place but if you see someone is getting millions of views and you're getting a few hundred it can really deflate you. Drive in your lane and don't look over at traffic.

How about for those who want to parlay their YouTube channel into something in a different medium?

You can take your YouTube fan base anywhere. Of course that doesn’t mean you’ll get the opportunity to have a TV series or a movie. 

Just because someone is big online, doesn't mean they know how to make a recurring series. Meet producers who have been successful in the other medium you want to explore, impress them and learn from them. 

Relationships, talent, great numbers, hard work, luck, and so many other factors are involved. For some, YouTube is a launching pad. For others, it’s their world. For those that can create great content and make enough money from YouTube, they’re living the dream. 

What should people know about the Canadian YouTube community? 

Some of the most interesting, quirky and unique people on all of YouTube are from Canada. We produce the funniest comedians in the world in film and TV; ideally more Canadian YouTubers will come together and create something epic. 

Tell people something they wouldn't know about yourself. 

People always ask me what I’m like in real life. The answer is pretty much the same as the videos to some degree. I love people, and feed off their energy. You see me hugging random strangers, being silly and not being afraid of talking to anyone. That's who I am. I hug random people, talk to everyone and basically treat the street like a playground. 

As a kid, I was extremely shy and would never ever do that. Comedy gave me the ability to break out my shell. With YouTube, people starting to recognize me, my hug frequency is on high alert! 

I love strangers! I treat every person I just met as if we have known each other for years. That's the way I'd want others to say hi to me! Yes, it definitely creeps some people out! That's cool with me!

Mememolly's journey to the anchor desk

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We knew Molly, aka mememolly, way back when, when she was a student in Canada and helped us launch our site there in 2007. Now she's moved to the Big Apple and has a regular gig with Rocketboom as an on-air personality. Here she tells Creator's Corner about the transition from bedroom vlogger to pro anchor, and how she's come to get used to all that planning.

How did you catch the eye of Rocketboom?
The first time I spoke to Andrew Baron was in June 2009 when I received an email asking if I had any interest in being Rocketboom's anchor. I had started watching the show when Caitlin (thehill88) hosted it earlier in the year and was definitely interested.

I think what Rocketboom found attractive was how many places they could find me online. I maintain active accounts on a number of different social media sites in many media. Beyond YouTube and Twitter, I love Dailybooth, Lookbook, and even gaming sites like Kongregate. I've been told that the video that got people's attention was one I made in 2008 called "The Internet."

What kinds of adjustments have you had to make, going from your own vlogging style to a more "formal" anchor role?
The first few videos I shot were pretty bad; I had absolutely no experience in actual production besides my high school's digital broadcasting class, where I read the morning announcements once a week.

When vlogging, you may only do one take and make everything up as you go along. Jump cuts are also very forgiving. Whereas when shooting a show with a script, you have to read accurately, from prompts or by memorizing the lines. It's harder than it seems.

I also had to adjust to the many levels of approval. I first present the video concept, then the script is approved. After that, we shoot the episode. Drafts of the video receive notes as it is being edited and then the final version is approved and published according to a schedule that we prepare weeks in advance.

I have never stuck to a schedule or style for my personal videos, but I'm used to the process at Rocketboom now and it helps to produce higher quality videos.

What do you do to prepare before you go "on air" for Rocketboom?
 I drink a glass of water and put on translucent powder. I also make sure I haven't worn the same clothes in a recent video and sometimes Leah D'Emilio and I get all hopped up on sugar!

What advice would you give to other YouTube users who want to make a career in online video?
The best advice I could give is to develop your personality and to network. 'Networking' is really just a clinical term for 'making friends'. It can be pretty daunting to first approach people, but once you become involved in a community, you'll encounter more and more opportunities.

When opportunities present themselves, it's important to listen but also understand that you need to be comfortable and careful not to be taken advantage of in any way. I'm still getting acquainted with the industry side of online video, but the people aren't so different from the people I met early on.

Which meme that you've covered still blows your mind as unbelievably weird or fun?
I think my favorite Know Your Meme episodes are "Autotune" which guest-starred Weird Al Yankovic -- that was an exciting day in the office -- and "Om Nom Nom." Otherwise, I like the "Rollercoaster Chess," "Geddan" and "Sexually Oblivious Rhino" memes.

Tell people something they wouldn't know about yourself.
I was especially shy and logical when I was younger. I actually wanted to be an accountant. I started making videos when I was about 16 and it changed my perspective towards doing what I enjoyed and doing what I had decided was respectable.

I moved to Ottawa, Canada, where I was encouraged to try creative things in an academic environment. In the last year of high school, I took my first real art class and the following year, I ended up attending the Emily Carr University of Art and Design on a scholarship.

Somewhere between finishing a year in Vancouver and today, I moved to New York to work for Rocketboom. I've been incredibly lucky to have so many opportunities, and I'm extremely grateful to everyone who's had a hand in that.

Weekend Project: Make a Video Panorama


Over at PhotoJojo, they've got detailed instructions on how to make video panoramas from your digital camera's video clips. Video panoramas are like wide-angle moving collages. You kind of have to see it to see how neat it looks.

You'll need Apple’s Final Cut Pro or Macromedia’s Flash Pro to make a "videorama." There are tutorials for both on the PhotoJojo site (just click on the earlier links).

If you do try this out this weekend, we want to see how it turns out! Please leave the link to your video in the comments below. If we get enough cool landscapes, cityscapes and other videoramas, we can help promote them to a wider audience.

Get inspired by Adventure Time animator Pen Ward

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ChannelFrederator's just posted an interview with Cartoon Network's Adventure Time creator Pen Ward, who talks about the show, animation in general and advice to those just starting out in the field.

He says: "Stick with it. You'll get good at it if you practice it. If you're serious, you...can't stop trying, even though there are a lot of hurdles. Keep producing ideas."

April Feature Opportunities


For a sneak peek of a few feature opportunities coming up in April and how you could submit your videos for consideration, click here. Feel free to also leave a comment below if you have an idea for a spotlight, holiday or theme we should showcase in April. Thanks!