I just finished watching the last few minutes of the long-awaited first episode of Dominic Arpin's new show Vlog (auto-play video warning) on TVA. (Forgive me, I was watching a lot of Family Guy and American Dad on Fox and forgot all about it.)
The point of the show is simple: Arpin and co-host Geneviève Borne (who makes a rather unconvincing web geek if you ask me) present clips from videos they find online.
You'll remember a few months back when ABC launched iCaught, a similar show which was supposed to find the "stories behind the videos". I was highly critical of the show for various reasons (mainly because it sucked). Most of the mistakes are repeated in Vlog, but thankfully to a much lesser degree:
- The inclusion of commercials, clips of network TV shows, or marketing experiments which seem to be the antithesis of the YouTube revolution of anybody-made videos. Fortunately in Vlog's case, their only infraction so far in this area is a series of crazy Japanese game show videos, for which there appears to be an infinite supply. But if I wanted to see that, I'd switch the channel to Spike and watch MXC.
- Showing only a few seconds of each video. iCaught would brag about how "this song will get stuck in your head", but then show only three seconds of it. Showing only clips from these videos only serves to remind us of the time constraints of network television, combined with its frustrating lack of interactivity.
- Being weeks or months behind the times. I'll cut Vlog some slack for their first episode, but OK Go and Will it Blend are ancient.
- Having the hosts stand in front of an all-white screen. What's with this? Does nobody have a better idea for a set? At least Arpin and Borne don't "click" things with their fingers which are obviously not there.
As you can imagine, a show like this should have a very involved website. In visiting it, I got nothing but frustration (and since most people will visit the website right after the first show, first impressions are everything):
- The URL is way too long: tva.canoe.com/emissions/vlog. It took me quite a while to copy it down off the TV screen. "vlog.canoe.com" or something similar would be much better (or even getting its own domain).
- As mentioned above, the homepage automatically plays a video with sound. Arpin should know better. It replays every single time you go to the homepage.
- There's a "blog". I'm not sure if it's a community blog or something. Either way, it was blank half an hour after the show ended.
- Navigation is very confusing. Clicking on the "blog" link (which isn't actually a link but a Flash animation which interferes with my browsing habits) leads to a "community" page that has a big logo for the show up top but no link back to the show's homepage. Instead, clicking on what looks like a "home" link brings you back to the Espace Canoë homepage and you're lost forever.
- Their page of videos interestingly links to YouTube pages and official websites (this is good). But clicking on those links forces these pages into pop-up windows. The prevalence of
target=_blankis bad enough, but this is just stupid.
- The big-media-website navigation:
Like iCaught, Vlog isn't content (pun!) taking its material from YouTube's most viewed videos list. It also wants you, the viewer, to provide them with content. In their first episode, they ask viewers to submit their best lip-sync to Mes Aieux's Dégenération (I'll spare you the English subtitles). Is it just me, or is this the lamest type of video people can produce? On very rare occasions such videos can be downright entertaining, but most people make fun of it unless you put in a lot of effort.
But feel free to do so, send them your videos. Oh, according to their giant give-us-all-your-rights contract, they can then use the video, free of charge, in any media over and over again forever and ever throughout the universe. And if it's shown that the video contains copyrighted material (say, including audio of a complete pop song without the artist's permission first), then you agree to pay any damages.
You've been warned.
So that's what I think of Vlog. What about you?
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