This January marks a phenomenal achievement: Youtube, the little independent company that could (which was bought by Google for the trivial sum of $ 1.5bn) has reached the 4 billion views a day threshold, which translates to one hour of video being downloaded every second. Between the fact that Youtube has successfully integrated its platform to mobile technologies, the trend for the last few years has been to produce and attract original, made-for-youtube content.
As film editor I look at Youtube to see how it helps independent filmmakers position themselves for exposure; ultimately, they seem to get lost in the number of channels offered up for subscription. And then, there’s unending cyclone of animal videos, however cute they may be (and let’s not forget that brilliant amateur video of the kid coming from the dentist and still high from the anesthetic gas–the video’s been since removed) that we may be destined to perish in.
Youtube’s indie and DYI structure is likely contributing to filmmaking a lot, since it allows a filmmaker to potentially leverage a large share of their intended audience. Big-name filmmakers will sometimes make their entire feature film available for viewing, such as when Yann Arthus-Bertrand put up Home (you can watch it here)–being able to watch Home on Youtube was a cool moment in the site’s history. To discover shorts and feature-length projects I tend to gravitate towards other sites that have similar aspirations as Youtube but which seem more niche-oriented, or just indie-proud (Vimeo, for example).
But in fact, choosing what you watch on Youtube is more complicated than that, given all the new personalization and preference-based schemes on offer. In the end, it’s up to the user to choose, of course, but given the unfathomable breadth of choice of videos to watch, one feels burdened (and there’s only so many hours in a day).
On Youtube I have a long list of favorited content that includes Kimbo Slice destroying opponents in unsanctioned fights, street motorcycle racing and various engine sounds, eighties music videos, footage from live bands at the Hacienda in Manchester and the occasional Boney M video. Old habits are hard to break.