Road to a Million Views: Get in, Get out

We always go into a shoot with a decent idea of how the final product will look. I like to ask myself: What people do we need to interview? What fill shots will I need for post? What will make this video look different than everyone else?

On location in San Jose, filming interview with Mad Men actor Vincent Kartheiser (Pete Campbell).

Welcome to the fourth article in our Road to a Million Views series. Stark Insider TV is closing in on 1 million YouTube views (estimate it will happen this summer spring) and we’re celebrating by publishing a weekly piece on our experience — good and bad — with video on the web.

Stark Insider YouTube Channel Views: 911, 563

Weekly change: +17,131 views, +10 subscribers

On location in San Jose, filming interview with Mad Men actor Vincent Kartheiser (Pete Campbell).
On location in San Jose, filming interview with Mad Men actor Vincent Kartheiser (Pete Campbell).

We had a good week on YouTube, effectively doubling our week-over-week views by about 17K, bringing our total to about 900K total views on the Stark Insider channel. Some times we get more hits, some times less. A lot of it depends on the season, and also some of it depends on various activities, events that drive traffic to existing videos we’ve published – Cirque shows, food events, actors with film openings are good examples of videos whose views can ebb and flow.

I originally pegged our 1M milestone to be this summer based on about 1K views per day. But if the uptick in activity continues we may hit it this spring. Regardless, I’m not hung up about when we hit the milestone, so mach as I am interested in understanding the factors that drive views for a small, regional site like Stark Insider.

This week, I’m keeping it short and sweet, with a bit of an observation on shooting video out and about in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The thought of the day for those of you interested in shooting video (predominantly run ‘n gun like we do here) is this:

Get in, get out.

Yours truly on location, and loving it.
Yours truly on location, and loving it.

Stark Insider has published 379 videos since 2009, with the majority coming in the last two years. I can’t imagine shooting, editing, and publishing that many videos without a lot of espresso and adhering to the get in, get out principle. That is, our goal when we get to an event to film – be it Premiere Napa Valley, Star Chefs and Vintners Gala, a backstage Cirque profile, or just a standard sit-down interview with an actor or director – is to get the job done in the minimal amount of time necessary to produce a quality result. This often means skipping lavish dinners, after-parties, and various other fun things. It’s not that we don’t partake in those from time to time – it’s often part of our job to soak in the vibe so we can later report on the event and pass anything newsworthy onto our readers. But for the most part, it means focusing on what matters. For me, it means getting enough b-roll, trying to get creative fill shots, and ensuring that my on-air partner, the Little Loni, has interviewed enough people, done at least one or two mildly interesting things before calling it a day. Then we’re out of there.

An example of a Stark Insider TV segment:

Though I do like to smile a lot and laugh spontaneously I’m no Dicky Fox, so I’m not about to sit behind this desk and shout out platitudes and advice on how to succeed. Rather, I’ll say what’s worked for us on Stark Insider – and what’s helped keep us on track in our quest to create a unique video identity and to achieve a YouTube channel with 1 million views (or soon to be!):

1. Envision the Result. We always go into a shoot with a decent idea of how the final product will look. I like to ask myself: What people do we need to interview? What fill shots will I need for post? What will make this video look different than everything else? Begin with the end in mind as they say.

2. Get in. If you’re serious about video and covering events professionally: I can say this, get to the event way early. Be on time. Press palms. Get any paperwork (waivers) out of the way up-front.

3. Stay focused. Filming can be hectic. I especially loathe the craziness of some of these crowded, live foodie events that we cover where there’s thousands of people on hand, making it very awkward to get good shots. On the other hand that energy can really help boost the mood. I’m likely too intense on location. But all I have on my mind is one thing: getting the job done. Once we achieve that, then I can loosen up a tad – though not entirely, at least not until I’ve taken dumped the video and audio from the various memory cards onto the Mac and made several backups. After that a glass of Chard tastes especially nice.

4. Get out. We leave asap. But not until we’ve thanked the right people for spending time on camera with us, and not before we’ve captured the right amount of footage to produce a quality result (or at least aspire too). The other reason I leave as early as I can is so I can get our footage to the edit bay, and edit overnight if need be to beat the mainstream press (local NBC affiliates, Chron, Merc, etc.) to the wire; this only matters for time sensitive stories. Yes, it’s a competitive bug, but one that’s at least served us well over the years.

C’est tout!

As I’ve said before, it takes a lot of work to make it look like we’re not working hard.

Again, get in early. Shake hands, meet your subjects, get any paperwork out of the way. Shoot your content as efficiently as possible, while retaining professional standards with the talent. Then, get out.

It works for us. There’s many, many others who have far more views than us who will have different suggestions. But this is my tidbit this week, as Stark Insider TV continues down the Road to a Million Views. Thanks for reading. Thanks for watching. See you next week.

Road to a Million Views

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Road to a Million Views: The Journey Begins

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