Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Evolution of Entertainment

It's interesting to see how multi-million dollar deals for new movies and tv shows are made through YouTube. Last year you probably saw the Mortal Kombat Live Action video, way back in June, after Kotaku splashed it all over their website/blog. It became a huge success for Kevin Tancharoen in ways that were never imagined.Why? Because it was never meant to be seen by the general public. Which is probably why you don't post stuff on YouTube, even if you have a private channel.

It was literally a 2 day shoot, pulling some strings with people he knew in Hollywood, to make something for Warner Brothers, who owns Midway and bought the rights to MK, in order to green-light a full movie. Which didn't happen. It took well over half a year for Tancharoento get a call from WB and was given the chance to make a mini-series for Mortal Kombat for the web. The first video released just under a week ago has more then 5 million views. And even with WB backing them, they're still using the same guerrilla tactics to keep the project low budget. Actors working pro-bono, borrowing sets from other films/tv shows. Whatever it takes to keep it on the cheep.

It's an interesting trend that we're seeing with the push towards more non-traditional content being backed by media corporations. Just look at Justin Beiber or the Friday song girl. To note, I'm only linking the video so as not to cause people to Google and get some weird pron images appearing, but I in no way condone the song, even with 2 million dislikes, the 110 million views is disturbing.

The face of YouTube is changing. What once was a website featuring farting pandas and the dramatic gopher, has turned into a starting point for new "talents," such as Abby Victor, or in a good scenario Kevin Tancharoen. Most of these videos are produced by studios, yes even the music for the Friday song was produced, and have an upscale feel in comparison to the farting panda video. But these are still done on very low budgets. Why? Accessibility. So much of the technology for high end movies 5 years ago is now available to the general public for a more reasonable price. It's possible for anyone to make a decent quality product on a very low budget. And it saves the studios a load of headaches. They can throw away a project they spent $20 grand on, over the $100 million venture. And if it's a hit, loads of money and advertising opportunities abound. Does anyone remember when YouTube wasn't plagued with ads? I do. Probably a side-effect of Google's purchase.

At the same time, YouTube isn't the best place to start out for new talent because you're still going to get buried by the thousands of laughing baby videos, at 20 million + views each. There are wonderful performance art pieces, movies, animations, and the like on YouTube that are not given the same notoriety as an evil cat video. Partially because of the history of YouTube being more of a mindless entertainment source. But you could argue that advertising plays a big part in it. Check out the YouTube homepage. Know why those particular videos are on the front page? They paid for the spot by whatever company sponsors them. Just like an ad on a blog. You click on the ad, the blogger makes money, even if it's a fraction of a penny. YouTube offers a similar system. Pay YouTube for page space, you get more views, and if people click on your ads in or around the video, you make your money back and then some. It'd be nice to think that the face of YouTube was changing to provide a better outlet for artists and independents. However, it's a market still dominated by 20 second silly videos and corporation endorsed children. Maybe the Google changes, such as removing Google Video, will be a step in the right direction. At least the MK video proved to be a gem in the rough.


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