Tuesday, May 01, 2012


Sometimes I tell Tim something I don't understand or want to know about, and he suggests "homework"--things I can look at that will help answer my questions. Sometimes he is thinking about something and wants to know what I think, and he suggests "homework." So today both of those collided, and I got some very delightful homework.

A few days ago I told him I couldn't tell the difference between different video qualities on viral videos, so he sent me to a few different videos to see. Now I can tell the difference. But I've been looking at video a different way since then, noticing camera shots, camera angles, film quality, etc.

Today, he said he was thinking about these two artists and how they differ from each other.


Specifically, we were trying to figure out why the top guy, Mike Tompkins, has gotten national media coverage and consistently gets well over five MILLION views on his videos, and the bottom guy doesn't. He gets in the low hundreds of thousands of views, but his videos can't even strictly be labeled viral.   The question is: Why is that? Given just the videos to look at, why, when both guys are doing exactly the same thing, does one get lots of views and one get fewer?

To make it easier to compare, I give you two interpretations of the same song:


I have some theories about what is different, but I'm curious what you think? Tim and I certainly had a great deal of fun talking about it!


C. Wilson said...

I'd say there are some big differences here that are possibly the make-or-break-it difference.

Their presentations produce completely different effects on the audience. It's all in the visual presentation.

Taio Cruz not only has a cool name but a studied cool/boy band look. It is consistent and so are his facial expressions. He never goes for goofy, which appeals to less people than cool mockery does. You can see the reason for his split screens. They are labeled with parts. It's not just a bunch of shots of his mouth moving, with occassional labeling. We know why we are seeing these different screens. The colors are simple and bold, with no complex or changing landscape backgrounds (you shouldn't generally have a bunch of these with split screens as it's distracting). We don't feel like we're missing out on one screen when we look at another one. He's doing almost the same body movements in all of them, though there is still a central "story" screen to look at which shows a little more motion/emotion.

Peter Hollens' problem is that he has crowded up his screen with too much activity. You have the split screens showing mouth movements, but no labeling to show which part you should be listening for as you see his mouth move. In Taio's video, you can see that he's doing a certain instrument and listen for it. There seems to be a reason for each screen. On Peter's, it's on and off. Sometimes it clear, sometimes it's just uninteresting filler, and unfortunately Peter is not good-looking enough to pull off the close-up mouth shots. He tends to look like a dork. Peter's other problem is combining the single-color background studio takes with a main story video. It is not done well, because the main story is too small, and jumbled up by all the other activity showing his mouth moving. It is distracting from the video. Also, if you're going to be goofy, keep it goofy. He needs a hook.

Anyway, one could nit-pick on the differences that work and don't all day long, but the overall presentation of one seems cleaner and gives a cleaner, more directly stimulating delivery than the other, which, though obviously well-done and creative, just doesn't have it. Taio is probably also working with a publicity company that gives him lots of hits to drive up his ratings. ;)

Becca Jones said...

You noticed some of the same things I noticed--and some I hadn't. Very interesting to think about, though, isn't it? (I totally agree with a lot of what you've said, by the way).