This year, CBS is leading all US television networks with an average of 10.7 million viewers daily. YouTube, in contrast, averages more than three times as many unique daily viewers—33.3 million. A single popular YouTube personality, such as gamer PewDiePie, can garner as many as 63 million views in a week—nearly as many viewers as the Tiffany network gets in the same amount of time.
YouTube’s success is even more remarkable when you consider that much of it is driven by self-taught video artists who work with inexpensive tools. YouTube stars such as PewDiePie and nigahiga succeed through creativity, humor, and knowledge of their audience, not high-end, Hollywood-style production values.
The leaders of the Dolby® Institute see an incredible opportunity in training members of the made-for-web video community in more sophisticated techniques for creating video and audio. Dolby started the institute to educate and inspire storytellers and artists in the effective use of technology as a creative tool.
Recently, the Dolby Institute collaborated for the first time with RED Digital Cinema® on a training session at YouTube® Space in Los Angeles. The two-day program accepted a dozen students. All were YouTube content creators who have more than 10,000 subscribers and are interested in improving the look and sound of their videos.
A team from RED spent half of the first day training the content creators to use the RED digital camera system. The training included a Dolby tutorial on how to record great sound. Then the twelve artists broke into two teams, each of which shot a scripted video on location in the YouTube studios. The script called for green-screen special effects and left plenty of opportunities for interesting sound design.
On the second day, as the attendees began to edit their videos, they were joined by Dolby Institute director Glenn Kiser and sound designer and mixer Steven Cahill, who worked closely with them as they recorded voice-overs, selected sound effects, and prepared a quick sound mix. The teams completed their videos in time for YouTube’s traditional Friday evening happy hour.
“When RED approached us about collaborating on their training program at YouTube,” explained Kiser, “it was appealing to us because we’ve been looking to work with a strong imaging company. They had a great training program but no audio component. They asked us to set up a sound module, and it went really well. The students learned a lot, especially some handy tricks for cleaning up bad production recordings. They all said it made them think much more critically about sound as they head out to shoot their next round of projects.”
The point of the training, Kiser explained, isn’t to eliminate the spontaneity and homemade feel of compelling made-for-web video. It’s to teach this new generation of artists new techniques and train them to use new tools so that they can eliminate the technical barriers that keep them from delivering the best video they can envision.