Comcast Corporation, and Comcast Ventures (the cable giant that’s now merged with NBC and whose unit that will own and operate telecommunications towers) now has “VidBlogger Nation” on its Comcast XFinity on-demand channel system.
VidBlogger Nation is a new concept created by Hollywood producer Marc Scarpa. Marc had an idea of essentially mixing video-blogging with television production processing techniques to create a brand new approach: vidblogging.
Marc, in San Francisco to meet his vid-bloggers (including Sarah Austin in San Francisco, Ann Spade in Sacramento, and this blogger, Zennie62, who represents Atlanta) and the media, is quick to say that what VidBlogger Nation does is not video-blogging: “I’ve always been a big fan of this school of improvisational story-telling, from the reactionary film movement to the John Cassavetes-style of film-making. What really captivated with early independent film and early web videos was this notion of ‘first=person perspective,’ where an individual is empowered to tell their story, there way, and how they want to. Web video has taken that to a whole new level.”
The difference between what Marc is saying and “video blogging” is that with video blogging, as done by me in the classic way, it’s just picking up the camera and talking into it. Now, where I take the camcorder and use it to tell a story of, say, an event, with interviews or people making quips as I did at Comic Con, that’s what Marc would call more in the vidblogger style – close, but somewhat different.
Because its something new, traditional television has been slow to pick up on it, giving a door for Scarpa and for Comcast Corporation and Comcast Ventures to walk through. But first, Scarpa had to find the talent.
There are vid-bloggers representing ten cities in America, from Atlanta, to Portland. As to how this blogger became involved, it was from a recommendation by Ms. Austin to Mr. Scarpa, because I’m a regular vlogger and spend about half my time in Atlanta. Sarah and Marc sent a Facebook message, which led to a long conversation with Scarpa.
What I and other vid-bloggers do is make 2 to 5 minute videos around a set of words like “Favorite Places,” which could lead to a video of favorite places to go in your city, or some other interpretation of the words. You then use the camcorder to take your viewers on a kind of tour of those places, at least where you can get a location release signed to do an interior shot, or do an exterior shot when you can’t, or use photos where available. You combine that with talks, quips, and whatever else to make the final show cut.
The idea is to form a kind of video narrative about the place you live in.
What attracted me to do this were three considerations: first, a chance to really get to know Atlanta and its people, which helps since I go down to be with my Mom often. Second, I really like Marc and enjoy working with him and his team. I’ve never been “produced” before – in other words had an executive producer asking for this or that, so this experience has been tremendous for me. Third, I was flattered that Sarah thought enough of me and my work to recommend me, and that both she and Jen Friel were involved – that was a big consideration. Regular readers may remember my vlog with Sarah at Pop17.com (and now Shaker) a while back…
Also, Jen Friel’s a vid-blogger at TalkNerdyToMeLover.com, who helped me cover the Academy Awards parties in LA this year:
So I did it.
What I’ve learned could fill a book, but the basic lesson is that the creative mind can be improved if only it’s working with other creative people. I love learning from Marc and the other vloggers. Frankly, I’m used to just letting it rip with a camcorder, where with VidBlogger Nation, I’ve become much better at telling a story with the camcorder.
You can see how to catch the work of all of the vid-bloggers on Comcast Corporation and Comcast Ventures here at the VidBlogger Nation Website.
Oh, and if you’re wondering why some cities like Oakland doesn’t have a VidBlogger Nation channel, and others do, it’s up to the local Comcast managers to decide to pick it up. No, the Oakland decision had nothing to do with me, for those who are wondering, I wasn’t even a part of VidBlogger Nation at the time.
But Oakland needs a VidBlogger Nation channel, so Comcast Oakland should take note.