Tag Archives: cheap-content

TVA’s Vlog: Not horrible, but not fantastic either

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.

Website disappoints

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=_blank is bad enough, but this is just stupid.
  • The big-media-website navigation:

Vlog website

Viewer-generated content

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?

Elsewhere in the blogosphere:

Watch an hour of iCaught for five minutes of YouTube videos

ABC premiered its new show iCaught tonight (hope iCaught Data Management Services doesn’t sue). It’s their YouTube clip show, in a sea of upcoming YouTube clip shows that seek to cheaply license popular clips owned by people who have no idea of their actual worth. The show’s reason for watching it instead of, say, just checking out YouTube’s most popular videos directly? They give “the story behind the videos,” which apparently means having a couple of talking heads say how cool it is and the creators say how they didn’t expect it to become this popular.

And isn’t that worth sitting through all those commercials?

Here’s a roundup of the videos they showed for their premiere:

  1. Battle at Kruger (Wikipedia entry). OMG. Animals get into fight! Film at 11! Don’t we see this stuff all the time on the National Geographic Channel? Oh wait, we do! It’s already been licensed to them.
  2. A bunch of videos about dancing at weddings. Clips from 13 going on 30, Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Footloose and So You Think You Can Dance. This is an ABC News story about dancing at weddings, with the same level of silliness. Congratulations ABC, you went a whole 10 minutes before figuring out this show’s concept is stupid and abandoning it in favour of a newsmagazine-style format. The one (non-professional) video that gets more than a couple of seconds is the Wedding Thriller video, which has already been talked about to death.
  3. Venetian Princess … wait, no. She’s just thrown in as a completely unrelated intro to…
  4. The Obama crush video, which was created by an advertising executive, which is about as counter-culture as you can get, right? Sigh.
  5. Lee Paige, the DEA agent who shot himself in the foot while teaching kids about gun safety. Does agreeing to appear on this program mean he’ll be dropping his lawsuit against the government for allowing the tape to be disseminated? (The lawsuit, of course, was not mentioned on the show)
  6. The Merry Miller / Holly Hunter interview disaster. Kudos for ABC for pointing out its own failures, but it still seems fake and silly. No mention of what actually went on (she’s horribly unqualified, but Joel Siegel thought she was hot, I guess), and just some footage of her giggling about how she couldn’t interview someone without a prompter running.
  7. The Women in Art morphing video. No interview with its creator or anything silly like that.
  8. A bunch of uninteresting crime-related/surveillance camera/MySpace video news segments that sound a lot more like World News Tonight than a new primetime TV show.
  9. David Elsewhere at Kollaboration. Shots of his dad. That’s about all I remember.

In case it’s not clear enough how little money they put into this show, it’s hosted by a nobody standing in front of a white screen. It has no sets, and its stories are setup like back-to-back two-minute TV news reports, which just serves to remind us that the networks aren’t spending their budgets reporting on, you know, news.

To recap:

  • The show seems to be about running YouTube videos, but only shows clips from those videos. Not once did it show the entire thing in one sitting.
  • The show claims to tell the stories behind the videos, but there’s plenty of important facts that are left out, as you can see above. A quick check on Wikipedia will, for the most part, find you more information than you’ll find on this show. (The fact that Wikipedia considers many of these videos to have insufficient notability says something.)
  • The show tries to think of itself as cool, with its green-screen usage and “click” sounds matched to the host’s hand jabs, but the interviews are setup old-school, complete with blur filters to make everyone look younger.
  • The show tries to be new and current, but the videos are months or even years old.
  • The show tries to plug its website (well, actually, it plugs ABCNews.com), but the website provides no easy way to, you know, look at the videos featured in the show which you couldn’t actually watch because of all the fuzzy interviews going on.

In other words, it’s a complete and utter joke. Any guesses on how long it’ll keep going?