BTM: GOD BLESS ‘MERICA

Camera: Samsung Camcorder

Editing Program: Windows Movie Maker

Other Equipment: Fourth of July accessories from Claire’s

My first year of YouTube was an adventure to say the least. I had no knowledge of how to film or how to act or even what worked best with the audience so I simply made videos with the most relevance to events happening at the time. But since I’m such a huge fan of stockpiling videos, I had to guess what would be relevant at the time of the video being posted. That lead to the creation of this video.

Posted on Canada Day, just three days short of the Fourth of July, I thought I was so clever for making a video about the Fourth. But I didn’t account the fact that most of my audience at the time lived in the United Kingdom/Canada/other and posting this video led to my very first dislike.

dislike
It’s still there….haunting me to this very day.

Then again, the dislike didn’t have to come from my very un-American audience. It could’ve came from the awkward jump cuts, the lack of focus, or the general obnoxious tone of the video. Really this video wasn’t very good. The filming and acting had potential, but the poor editing completely ruined the video. Even if I had just layered a song in the background, it would’ve been tolerable.

Despite this video’s flaws, it was the first of many things. Along with the first dislike, it was the first time I included music in a video other than my end screen ditty and it was the first time I made a video completely without a script.

I’ve been making videos without a script for a while now. My ‘Top 5 Disney Never Afters’ video is the most recent video with even an inkling of a script, but even that was only a list on my phone. But in the beginning, I insisted on using a full-on script for every video. Even when my friends told me they preferred me unscripted, I argued with them that I didn’t want to lose my channel or have my life threatened because of something I said out of line.

But this video had so little focus that I couldn’t write a script even if I tried. I just had to rely on my wit and my pure love for America to make this video. With ‘Fear’, it may have lacked a script but I still had an idea of what I was going to say or at least a subject in mind. This video is basically just the camera rolling while I came up with America-themed antics. It’s probably why the editing process went so poorly is because I wasn’t used to editing without a script to reference.

Now, of course, I’m more used to filming and editing without a script and feel sort of restricted when I have to follow one. But back then, this was revolutionary for me to go completely off-the-board. It’s the start of something new for the Maddness and it’s one of many videos that helped shape my channel to what it is today.

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BTM: The BatDance!

Camera: Samsung Camcorder

Editing Program: iMovie/Adobe Premiere

Other Equipment: Acer Aspire Laptop, a stack of my roommate’s books, my bedsheet

I like Batman. I like being Batman. I am also crazy.

So if I’m stuck in an empty dorm hall for three days with no money due to a bank error, well I might just spend two hours dancing around to a playlist of songs in my Batman costume.

This video was a lot of effort for what it’s worth. I spent about an hour prepping everything (to give you some hindsight, the costume takes about 10 minutes to put on), another two-three hours filming, and around three hours of initial editing time on iMovie. When I edited it a second time a year later on Premiere, it took another two hours. Even the thumbnail took a solid two hours to create because I just couldn’t get the blur working right on Photoshop. Adding it all up, that’s about 11 hours of work for a three minute video that only got 65 views after three months.

The craziest part is that I spent all of this time on this one video and I never planned for it to go on YouTube. I only put it up because I needed a filler video to buy me editing time for next week’s video.

But I made this video and put all of this effort into it, not even planning on publishing it or anything, because I wanted to.

 

It was an idea that plagued me for months. I just thought that the idea of someone dancing to various songs dressed as Batman was hilarious. So on day two or three of my terrible spring break locked up in my dorm room, I was suffering from torturous boredom that I don’t handle well and finally fulfilled the idea that has always sat in the back of my mind.

That’s the beauty of making videos and running your own channel is that you get to do whatever you want. You can dress up as Batman and dance to songs that were miraculously never caught by Content ID. You can make videos stating your opinions on other YouTubers. You can teach people about copyright. You can do whatever you want with your own channel and video making abilities!

where did it goooo
This is a good example.

There’s a certain freedom with running your own channel and making your own videos. It’s all on you on how you want to run a YouTube channel. If you want to listen to the industry experts and make each video a replica of what they say a perfect viral video is, then that’s fine. I’m just saying that it’s pretty fun to dress up as Batman and dance around to a playlist of silly songs. It’s even more fun to share that video among your friends and watch them get a kick out of you making a fool of yourself.

Making videos should be fun. You shouldn’t have to force yourself to be this viral internet sensation. I think WheezyWaiter said it best in this video, but honestly YouTube shouldn’t just be about going viral. It started out as a community of people who enjoy making videos just for the fun of it, so why can’t we continue that now?

BTM: How To Not Be Socially Awkward

Camera: iPod Touch

Editing Program: Windows Movie Maker

Other Equipment: The little brother, a nail in the wall

How ironic of me to make a video on how to not be socially awkward in the most awkward way possible.

-sigh-

Alright let’s get this over with…

Obviously, not the best quality video. This video is far more cringe-worthy than “LoL So RaNdOm” and look where that video ended up. But in my defense, this was back in my iPod touch days where like three people knew I had a YouTube channel and I had hardly any experience with any sort of video-making. It was a miracle I could even get my brother to help me with it, but it’s probably the reason why he refuses to help out with any subsequent productions.

LOOK HOW ADORABLE
Sorry Nate.

Even though it’s at such a low quality and it’s so incredible cringe-worthy, it’s popular for two reasons:

  1. Because some people are genuinely looking for advice on how to not be socially awkward. Even though this video is clearly NOT a good example, comments and analytics show that a solid portion of views come from fellow socially awkward people.
    kind of feel bad
    Sorry socially awkward people.

    My only hope is that when they see this video, they get a good amount of self-confidence and knowledge that their situation could be much worse.

  2. Beautiful, wonderful, magnificent Nerdfighteria.

I got lucky. I posted this video around Nerdfighter Idol 2013 back when there was still a thing as video responses. Yeah, I know. That was a thing. I miss that thing. Anyway, I used that thing known as a video response to submit this video to Nerdfighter Idol 2013 to try and win a chance to replace John Green for a week during his paternity leave from Vlogbrothers.

Once again, obviously I had no chance of winning this thing. But I thought I did. I thought my videos were the best thing since Fred (oh god I’m dating myself again, aren’t I?) and so I gave this Nerdfighter Idol 2013 thing a shot. Thankfully Nerdfighters are kind beings and either gave me encouraging comments or ignored my video. I had a huge subscriber boost and honestly this video kept my channel going. I saw that people at least liked the idea of my videos and so I kept making them, even if it took two years to get them to a semi-decent level.

There are several morals to this story. For one, don’t be afraid to be a little confident. If I wasn’t confident with this video and submitted it to Nerdfighter Idol 2013, I never would’ve received the positive comments and support that encouraged me to keep making videos. That leads us to the second moral: EXPOSURE IS YOUR FRIEND.

Exposure is never going to be a bad thing when you’re starting out. Unless you already have a good-sized audience to build off of, you need to promote your videos everywhere and anywhere. Look for those mid-sized contests like Nerdfighter Idol that encourage self-promotion and networking. You can’t get subscribers unless people actually watch your videos and they’re never going to watch your videos if they never find them.

Finally the third moral is to never watch your first ten videos again unless you’re some sort of YouTube video-making prodigy because wow this was a trip. Please do not judge my current video-making abilities off of this video because wow.

stopppp
Sorry world.

 

Judge my video-making abilities instead off of my most recent YouTube video! Or better yet, my music video!

The Brutal Murder of So Random | BTM: LoL sO RaNdOm XD

~VIDEO UNAVAILABLE~

Camera: Samsung Camcorder

Editing Program: iMovie

Other Equipment: Humanity being awful on the internet

It started out with such innocence.

I conceived the idea during softball practice, scripted during class, and filmed in the middle of the night while my family slept. Basically, it was a typical Maddness video.

After editing the video, it sat on my computer for a couple of months before I uploaded it in the late summer as a filler video. I knew it wasn’t the best video, but it was good enough to get me to the next week so I could work on better content without missing my weekly deadline. Most of my subscribers ignored it so I figured it was fine. It was just something to hold the weekly viewers over until I could film and edit other videos. I didn’t think much about it and promptly forgot about it, moving onto better projects and videos.

Then it went viral.

If something goes viral, it’s either for the best or for the worst. In this case, it was for the worst. I managed to stumble upon the invasion right when it was starting. At first it was just a handful of comments, completely manageable and nothing more than some trolls poking some fun at an awful video. I played along, thinking that they will either leave me alone or realize that the video wasn’t serious and play along with the joke too.joking aroundBut it got worse.

Although some of the new visitors played along,thanks for playing along the majority refused to do so and the comments got nastier.  The dislikes grew with every passing view and I was beginning to panic. I started texting and calling every friend who was active on the internet to try and track down the source of this invasion. I scoured 4chan, Reddit, tumblr…anything and everything that could build an immense army of trolls to send to my innocent video just to try and save myself.

that's nice

After making a desperate plea in my comments section for a source, one kind commentator finally confessed that they were all coming from Reddit/cringe. But that hardly helped. I couldn’t find the video in the tag and some of the trolls were beginning to find their way onto my other videos. It looked like there was no end to this nightmare of going viral on Reddit.

cool cool

Now if you know anything about the internet, you should know that I couldn’t possibly fight back. That would just fuel the fire. If I continued to try and play along, they would resent me for acting like a “cool mom” and make things worse. If I deleted the video, I risked the chance of them calling me a coward and trying to take over the rest of my channel. If I did nothing, I would have to deal with the endless barrage of hurtful comments and risk being known as the “So RaNdOm” girl.

thanks dude
Thanks dude.

It was a torturous situation.

When I finally made the video private and everything settled down, the poor video had taken a serious hit. Over 1,500 views with 92 dislikes and a comments section with enough hate to fuel a Linkin Park song, it’s remarkable how the invasion only lasted for 45 minutes.

views

This is the closest I’ve ever gotten to going viral and it felt awful. It made me reconsider my entire channel and my goals for video-making. For a small period of time, I even considered straight-up deleting my channel. Obviously I didn’t, but it was an option I took very seriously for the time. I still don’t know who originally posted the video to Reddit and caused it to nearly go viral, but to that person who caused so many people to say so many hurtful things to me and forced me to delete one of my precious videos: I have one thing to say to you…

Thank you.

Sure you caused me a lot of anxiety and almost ruined my channel, but you also helped it grow. This incident has ensured that every video from now on will match a certain level of quality before being uploaded and there will never be another filler video again. I’ve worked harder on improving every video so that this incident will never re-occur and there won’t be any excuses for an army of trolls to harass my videos.

The next time a video of mine goes viral, it’s going to be for the best and it’s all thanks to the person who murdered this video.

BTM: Pottermore Sorting Quiz Part 1!

 

Camera: Debut Capture Software

Editing Program: iMovie

Other Equipment: Headset microphone

Sometimes it can be very hard to make videos on a budget. Sometimes your crappy laptop that you love with a passion can’t record audio so you have to get a cheap headset from Target with a $20 gift card just so you can put audio onto your laptop. Sometimes that same crappy laptop can’t handle the free video capture software you downloaded so the video you capture lags. Sometimes all of that cheapness is hidden away and you can still somehow make a good quality video.

This video is not that.

This video is an accumulation of all of my stinginess and cheapness. The audio is terrible because the headset I used is cheap. Editing was a disaster because the capture footage lagged like hell because my budget of $0 a video only allowed for a crappy free video capture program that my three year old laptop can barely handle. Also I made the mistake of cropping the video footage after I already cut and clipped the entire sequence so the video, which should’ve been in just one set place, is jumpy and moves around a lot.

Luckily the subject of the video is enough to redeem the low quality and make it one of the highest viewed non-reaction videos. If I had made this video when Pottermore first came out, it probably would’ve been a little bit more successful due to the relevance of the subject. I’m just grateful it’s as successful as it is for being posted at a time that wasn’t relevant to Pottermore at all and the fact that it sounds and looks as cheap as they come.

Now I don’t have a choice with my video budget. If I could buy all of the equipment and props that I need/want, believe me I would. But for how small my YouTube channel is, it doesn’t make sense to purchase thousands of dollars worth of audio, lighting, and recording equipment when only 40-50 people watch my videos per week. I need that money for…I dunno…food, college, rent, gas…really the sky is the limit.

The best I can do is make a video with substantial content. There may be technical issues here and there, but I’m doing my best with what I have. I am very fortunate to have two high definition cameras and my iPhone/iPod can take pretty good quality audio, so we’re getting there. It’s just a matter of using my resources to make the best possible quality videos for my beloved viewers. Thankfully I’m a creative person so I’m sure to find some new solutions that stay within my budget that will increase the technical quality of my videos.

Check out the sequel to this video where I learned from my mistakes and found a solution to the audio problems!

BTM: Writer – A Nature Documentary

Camera: Samsung Camcorder

Editing Program: iMovie

Other Equipment: iPod Touch, Apple Earbuds, iTunes

I don’t say this often about my videos, so please believe me when I say that this video is the work of miracles and a true feat in filmmaking. Alright I’ll admit that might be a slight exaggeration, but I seriously did this entire video in one take and that is a miracle for me!

Should I have done this all in one take? No.

Could I have done this better? Probably.

But with my editing, filming, and acting skills at the time, this truly is a goddamn triumph and needs to be excessively celebrated for at least this blog post.

How I achieved this directorial triumph is actually a lot of excessive behind-the-scenes work. First, I carefully scripted out the voiceover and split the script up into sections to accommodate for my live-action reaction. I recorded each section separately on my iPod touch and then imported the audio files into my iTunes. After carefully labeling each audio file, I placed them in a playlist and then played the audio files through my earbud so that I could react to the voiceover in real time. If you’re looking for it, it’s blatantly obvious when I play the next audio track to continue the video. Sometimes it’s a subtle tap of the spacebar, but most of the time it’s physically clicking on the next audio file.

149
It’s especially evident at 1:49 in the video

 Believe it or not, this one-take-miracle really did essentially only take one take. I only restarted filming on the scene once and that was because of a technical error where the audio didn’t play when expected and it was at the very beginning of the scene. The reason behind the success of only using one attempt is that my improv skills are somewhat adequate so I was able to react to each voiceover accordingly with little reference to the script which made it easier to film the video in only one try.

Editing was the truly difficult part. Even though I had the physical actions of playing the voiceover audio to indicate the start of an audio clip, it was still difficult to time the lag between playing the audio and when the actual audio started to play. iMovie, although considerably better than Movie Maker, didn’t help and actually caused some of the slight delays between the reaction and the audio.

I’m very proud of this video. It truly is a directorial triumph in my eyes, which is funny because I only attempted the one-take wonder to make it easier to edit. Regardless, I’m considering this video a success that needs to be celebrated more.

BTM: Heroes Teaser Trailer Reaction!

Camera: Samsung Camcorder

Editing Program: iMovie

Other Equipment: Laptop, All Four Seasons of Heroes on DVD

How do you do a reaction video to a fifteen second clip? Well first off, you don’t.

I only did this reaction video because Heroes truly is my favorite TV show of all time, if you couldn’t tell from my pure fangirl love in the video. I really wasn’t lying when I said I started hyperventilating when I found out the news. It took all of my power to not watch that video until I could do a reaction video to it.

dvds

The result is that although the premise of the video is a reaction video and the title says “reaction video”, it isn’t a reaction video. It’s just me shamelessly cooing about my favorite TV show and using a fifteen second clip as an excuse to do that.

I’m not complaining though. I love Heroes that much that I’m willing to use everything and anything as an excuse to talk about it.my face So that’s what I did. I manipulated the popularity of my reaction videos to make a video about something I liked and spent that time fangirling. Really, you can just refer to it as “Maddie’s Reaction to Heroes in a General Sense” and it would be more accurate than its current title.

But honestly, fifteen seconds is barely enough to express anything fully. The clip itself told me less than the article I read that first broke the news. To make a substantial video, I had to rely on my pure love for Heroes to fill some time and make it something worthwhile.

For that, I’m going to go ahead and say that this is by far my most substantial reaction video.

There’s content alternative to me making faces at a laptop screen and it actually required effort. I didn’t just sit there and let the camera record my multitude of faces. I actually engaged with the content and used that content as a basis for a conversation. handsEven if it was a one-way conversation about how much I love Heroes, it’s still something more than me going “awesome” or “ew” and that makes it worthwhile.

If you want to see someone fangirl hardcore over the TV series Heroes, then this is the perfect video for you. If you honestly want to see a full-fledged reaction video to a fifteen second clip, you should probably expand your interests. Seriously it’s fifteen seconds. Go stare at a painting for fifteen seconds. It’s more worth your time than fifteen seconds of a person reacting to something.

Check out my latest reaction video here!