Los Angeles: YouTube built its success on goofy, amateur videos – a child tripping on anaesthesia after the dentist, a crying Britney Spears fan, cats doing, well, just about anything. Many had bad lighting or sound quality but won followers through sheer oddity or over-the-top cuteness.
But in a reflection of its increasing reliance on more professional content, the internet’s third-most popular site has opened a production studio in Los Angeles for free use by its active partners and channel creators.
The YouTube Space LA is a 3800 square-metre, state-of-the-art video studio. Open since November, it also hosts screenings and offers classes and tips on the art of internet video.
One of the goals is to raise the production values of programs on the site, now owned by Google, leading to more time spent on the site and higher advertising, subscription and on-demand viewing revenues.
But what might this do to the handmade, anyone-can-do-it quality of the programs that made YouTube a sensation?
”I talk a lot about the tools and technology that are available in the Space,” said Liam Collins, head of the LA studio. ”One of the things that we never want to forget, though, is that people aren’t going to want to watch videos unless there’s a good story behind them.”
The company has similar, though smaller, spaces in London, New York and Tokyo.
Those who have been working at the LA studio say they are impressed with the equipment and the idea behind it.
”It’s really progressive and insightful of Google and YouTube to move in this direction,” said Rachel Myers, the production designer for one of YouTube’s star creators, freddiew’s, Video Game High School, which is taping episodes on Space LA’s biggest stage.
”Building a facility to house and cultivate and support this type of work is really important. Our show, for instance, would not have been possible at the scale that we’re doing it at were it not for the support of this facility.”
The space is there for YouTube’s creative partners – some of the everyday folks who post Harlem Shake renditions, narcissistic vlogs(video blogs) and impassioned takes on geek culture – to use and learn at. For free.
However, those who use it have to be in the Partner Program, which involves an agreement allowing Google to monetise your videos by selling advertising against them and sharing revenue.