Now that I’ve had some time to sit and think, I’d like to share what I learned at VidCon.
For those of you who don’t know, VidCon is the world’s largest conference for YouTubers and vloggers or as their website says, “For People Who Love Online Video”. I heard about VidCon through some people I follow on Snapchat. They talked about their preparations and it piqued my curiosity to learn more.
I looked on the website and read about what to expect and it became apparent that it was going to be different – and I had to mentally prepare for it.
For one, I didn’t know many of the YouTubers, vloggers or presenters but they seemed to be celebrities in their own right. I checked their YouTube channels and watched their videos amazed that they had millions of people around the world watching them record pranks, or their life every day. It seemed like a different world.
The ticket price was also affordable compared to the business conferences that are usually out of my price range. I decided to go because not only could I afford the ticket it was also going to be “that amount of weird” which was going to put me into a discomfort zone that was going to test me. I also reasoned that it would be an opportunity for me to learn how YouTubers and vloggers take video footage, how they edit it and learn the ins and outs of various platforms. If anything, it would also mean that I could record my video with relative comfort knowing that people wouldn’t look at this near 50 grey-haired woman talking into her camera…
VidCon had three tracks of registration:
- Community: this was the largest track and if you want to be surrounded by hordes of young screaming teens then this would be for you. It also allows you access to Q&As, panels, discussions, Meet and Greets and Featured Creator Shows
- Creator: this was for anyone who created video. Sessions focussed on how to create better video content, grow your channel, enter the industry, Creator Chats, Creator Keynote and a Creator Track Reception.
- Industry: this track was for professionals working in the online video industry or any part of a production company, network or channel and sessions focussed on talent management, venture investment and software development. The ticket price to this track was more expensive but you had access to all the industry sessions as well as the creator sessions.
I paid my Creator registration and waited for the day to arrive.
What I Saw at VidCon
My initial anxieties about being the oldest one in the crowd dissipated once I reached VidCon.
While I initially thought that I should have brought one of my nephews and nieces to the event, I looked at the bored parents on their mobile phones while their screaming kids surrounded some famous YouTuber and I thought I had the better end of the deal. Besides, I could walk around the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre in relative obscurity talking into my camera and no one batting an eyelid because for once, it seemed normal.
One of the highlights for me attending VidCon was simply observing and watching others. I looked at how they vlogged; I watched how they set up their cameras and tripods; I spied what equipment they were using and it quickly dawned on me that I had to buy a new small vlogging camera with a flip screen. My iPhone simply didn’t have enough ‘grunt’ on it anymore because I wanted to do more creative stuff on it.
The strangest thing I saw was not the crazy hair colours and dress sense of the kids (I liked that) but that kids as young as 10 were carrying around their cameras on handheld gorilla pods talking into their cameras.
Meanwhile in the Creator Lounge, while resting between sessions with a cup of coffee, I could strike up a conversation with a 15-year-old who could show me what I was doing wrong in the editing and correct my post-production process.
VidCon is truly multi-generational – although my demographic of women who create video in their 50s or older was missing. Such a pity.
At the start and end of the day, there were Creator Keynotes and Creator Shows where presenters would come up on stage and pitch their sessions to an enthusiastic audience. On Saturday night, there was a massive show with all the YouTubers live on stage but as that was on at 7:30 pm, by that stage, me – along with every other parent there – were already thinking of getting home and hitting that bottle of red.
I had been following Andy Burgess, who is a vertical and mobile filmmaker on Snapchat. His work sees him travel around the world and create daily snap stories of the cities he visits. His video is cinematic, inspiring and a joy to watch. I make it my daily viewing because I like how his videos make me feel at the end of them and I aspire to create videos like this when I travel. (I did attempt when my husband and I visited Germany and France this year and they are my most watched videos – by me – on my phone. Why look at photos of our time in Munich when I can watch a story of chronological video of our entire day in Munich – in effect, I’m reliving the entire day).
I was walking to the meetup that he had organised for his Melbourne fans and that’s when I saw him walking the same way. I struck up a conversation and because we had chatted previously on Snapchat, it was lovely to meet him in person. I asked him about how he was enjoying time in Melbourne and how I loved his snap stories. At the meetup, I got to meet some other video creators there who had gathered around to learn more about how Andy created his videos and he shared some pointers with us. I also got the chance to try out the Snap spectacles which aren’t sold in Australia and insert them into my own daily snap story.
I couldn’t pass up the chance to have a selfie with Andy – so I guess that makes me a fan….
What I Learned
I attended the following sessions over the two days:
- Master Your Fear: How to be a Girl Boss presented by YouTuber Erin Henry. Erin was quite an inspirational young lady who presented a session that helped women overcome their fear of inadequacy or competition in online video. What surprised me about this session were the questions by the women in the audience centred around negative comments and trolls. I think I was the oldest woman in the audience with my own fears – not of negative comments or trolls (frankly, they’re annoying but idiots which I can handle) but how to overcome the fear of peer pressure. That is, the PERCEPTION of what I’m doing is frivolous. Then, I think back to all the other women my age on YouTube who are fearless so I calmed down.
- Business Skills: Level Up for Creators was a workshop presented by Fleur Filmer Chief Strategist of CreatorUp who helped the audience step through the process of building a business. I stayed for an hour or so but then decided to go to another session. The reason was that much of it I had been through before such as creating an elevator pitch. However, for those who wanted to build a business out of their YouTube channel, this would have been helpful.
- Facebook Video for YouTubers was presented by Mark Robertson of Little Monster Media. Now this session I found interesting because he presented lots of slides with data. It was the one session where I understood the difference between the video platform channels and just how Facebook is trying to capture the YouTube market with its new channel Facebook Watch. It was also a chance to see how different video formats work in both platforms and the analytics behind each of them.
- Bite Me Creating Bite-Sized Video Content was presented as a workshop by Suzanne Nguyen (String Story), Andy Burgess and Adam Cinemre. We were split up into three groups focussed on Engagement; Equipment and Story and each of the presenters shared their knowledge and skill in these areas. Focussed on mobile and vertical video, I was surprised that many people hadn’t considered this aspect for their film making at all. I chatted with a few people in the group and showed them examples of how I use Snapchat video to show and share my work and learning and you could see the penny drop. That’s when they realised how social platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram Stories and Facebook Stories can be used for quick, ephemeral content that could show their own story of their work and document their process.
- One Person Productions: How Do You Do It All was presented by Erin May Henry. This is something that I have grappled with video. If you ever watch me record video, you’ll see someone who is propping her camera on a tripod at various places, running back and forth to the camera, taking the shot, checking it, retaking it. It’s a hard slog to take video and be mindful of not only your surroundings for your own safety but your equipment too. In that way, that was one of the reasons I moved to Snapchat because the video creation time is shorter. However, it has its pros and cons.
- How to Make the Best Video with What You was presented by Matthew McKenna. Once again, there was nothing new here because much of what I use in creating videos are what I have around me. For example, I use sunlight through windows for lighting (or desk lamps); use my mobile phone which does the job. I have bought a Rode XY microphone specifically for my iPhone 6 as audio quality is a must for me and apart from my phone, it’s the most expensive item I have at $250.
- How do your EDU was a panel discussion and the LARGEST session I went to as part of the Community track. Here a panel of educators talked about how they’re using YouTube to educate students around the world in their fields and the gaps between what schools and teachers teach within the educational curriculum to how they help. I was surprised to learn that they can tell what is not being taught well at schools through a spike in their viewer numbers for certain topics.
Overall, I’m glad I attended VidCon this year and would definitely attend again if they are going to run it again in Australia. It gave me an appreciation of the world of YouTubers and vloggers but also the immense pressure that these people are under to create consistent video content for their viewers who are discerning. What also surprised me was my own gut reaction to some of the comments especially young people talking about increasing their ‘Likes’ or subscribers with the idea that if they grow their channel, they can become famous or have some brand sponsor or pay them to promote their products and services. That particular aspect didn’t sit well with me because of the pressure on people to consistently keep pumping out video content and be at the whim of not only their peers, but their viewers and even worse, some corporate brand.
If you have an opportunity to visit VidCon, I highly recommend it!
I also did a LinkedIn video while there…(trust me, LinkedIn video was NOT talked about here at VidCon)….