One of the complaints that I often read about YouTube is that it’s just a bunch a cat videos. While it is true that the feline community has found their special crazy place on the site, this statement is an injustice to all of the hard working innovative filmmakers who are pushing the boundaries of the web. Don’t get me wrong – there is a ton of junk on YouTube, but there are also some really talented people who are redefining the relationship between an artist and their audience.
So to celebrate TiVo’s support of YouTube, I’ve put together a list of 20 of my favorite web video creators. You won’t find many cat videos, but you will get a glimpse of the future of the entertainment industry. My tastes can be a little eclectic, but hopefully you’ll be able to find at least one or two new shows that are of interest. If you know of any good web series that I left out or if you happen to make your own web videos, feel free to leave a link in the comments.
1.) You Suck At Photoshop – The series is dark and twisted, but is very very funny. You get the feeling that sometimes Donnie is pulling his “hypothetical” examples from real life experiences, but his obsession only adds to the comedy. Even if you don’t like Photoshop, this is worth watching.
2.) PurePwnage – I discovered PurePwnage about two years ago and was instantly hooked. The show follows a pro-gamer around and films him embarrassing himself and others. While it’s shot in an amateur documentary style, it’s clear that Kyle has a ton of talent. The series is cleverly edited and offers a humorous glimpse at the video game sub-culture.
3.) Pretend We Don’t Exist – Most of the videos on YouTube are filmed for the web, they are quick and funny, but they also tend to be unpolished and gimmicky. The videos that PWDE creates are a breath of fresh air compared to the rest of YouTube. Their clips tend to be much longer and are focused on deep and dark subjects. The humor is much more subtle and is driven by the characters in their films. The filming and editing looks amazing and represents cinematography at it’s finest. There are more popular artists on YouTube, but more than any of the other videos, PWDE’s content deserves to be seen on a big screen television.
4.) ./ Shutdown – If you’ve ever wondered what really goes on in your IT department, ./ Shutdown is the series for you. They celebrate all things geeky and offer an entertaining and humorous look at anything nerd related. Their videos can go from quirky to awkward, to just plain mind boggling, all in a single episode. I don’t know how their videos would do with a mass market TV audience, but I’m not surprise that they’ve built a following online.
5.) Mondo Mini-Shows – Not everyone will appreciate the humor in Mondo Media’s videos, but if you like the itchy and scratchy episodes from the Simpsons, you’ll love these animations. By combining the right amount of cuteness with hair raising violence, they’ve stumbled onto a winning formula for the web.
6. ) Sub Pop – Sub Pop is the only channel on my list that I would consider to be professional content. Most record labels have been slow to evolve to the new media landscape, but Sub Pop hasn’t been afraid to adapt. During the 90’s, they discovered many of the top grunge bands and continue to introduce amazing new artists today. Their videos are better than anything you’ll find on MTV, even if the bands aren’t as popular (yet.)
7.) Kevin Nalts – Love him or hate him, there is no denying that Nalts really is a viral video genius. Between his job and his family, I don’t know how he finds time to create his videos, but his gems are some of the funniest clips on the web. The man knows no shame and isn’t afraid to exploit helpless kittens to get the fame that he deserves.
8.) Gradual Report – When Ze Frank gave up internet video it left a big void on the web, luckily other talented comedians have step forward to help keep you entertained. Daniel Grozdich’s style reminds me a lot of Ze, but his comedy tends to be edgier and more dangerous. His rantings borderline on craziness and brilliance, but it’s a tension that provides a ton of entertainment.
9.) Tom Green – Ten years ago, TV was sorted into neat and tidy channels, but today it’s a fragmented mess. When you tell Netflix what movies you want to see, does it really matter what studio made it? Likewise, who cares what network a show is on, if you are just going to TiVo it? Tom Green was one of the first celebrities to recognize this trend and instead of bitching and moaning about it, he started his own TV channel and now has a successful online talk show that he broadcasts on TomGreen.com His channel isn’t carried on any of the cable networks, but thanks to the magic of the internet, fans can still tune into his bizarre and zany antics.
10.) Charbax – Whenever there is a tech boondoggle in Las Vegas, the press will trip over themselves to cover it, but if the event is held in Europe, you’re lucky to find any coverage. Fortunately, Charbax covers many of these European tech events and provides a unique view into the consumer electronic industry. His questions are focused with laser precision and produce very stimulating discussions on current digital trends. His reporting goes way beyond the sound bites and consistently brings new and relevant information to his audience.
11.) Rabbit Bites – You may have never heard of them, but Buns and Chou are two of the most famous rabbits on the internet. By combining sharp humor with rabbit commentary, they’ve managed to win the hearts of their fans. Their show is a cross between Access Hollywood and Animal planet. They typically skewer pop culture from the rabbit perspective. As their popularity has grown, they’ve been able to use their fame to bring several big name guests on the show.
12.) Videoholic – Videoholic was a betamax blogger, even before blogging existed. Over the years he’s met with other Beta fans, traveled to CES and has even written for Betamax newsgroups. During that time he’s also managed to collect a treasure trove of tapes that literally cover walls and walls of his home. Whether it’s Ray Bradbury selling out to the prune industry or old “cell” phone ads that should not be forgotten, you never quite now what will be coming next. By sharing his life long passion with the larger community, Videoholic is helping to keep history alive.
13.) Noodle Scar – Bonnie hasn’t updated her site in six months, but I’m still hanging onto hope that Noodle Scar will come back. Once a day, she would create a quick 30 second clip filled with random awesomeness. The fast tempo format always left me wanting more. If you haven’t already seen her clips, her archives are definitely worth exploring.
14.) Jeremy Cathey – Jeremy is only 17 years old, but he’s already learned a lot about how to make great films. He doesn’t have access to a big budget, but his clips still look professional. One of the great things about YouTube is that it gives filmmakers like Jeremy, the opportunity to experiment and try new things, without the pressure of needing instant success. As he continues to perfect his art, I have no doubt that he’ll end up making films for even larger audiences.
15.) Improv Everywhere – Most of the practical joke shows on TV tend to make their victims look really stupid, but Improv Everywhere adds a bit of class to the practical joke genre. Through the power of the internet, they assemble random people together, in order to stage elaborate public demonstrations. The events are designed to be so ridiculous that people can’t help but be confused by what’s happening. Just watching the pranks unfold can be fun, but watching the reactions make it priceless. I’m hoping that they’ll come to San Francisco, so that I can take part in the fun.
16.) Vancouver Film School – Even before the internet, I was always a fan of college films. They tend to take risks that big budgets won’t and I like the roughness that they bring to their films. The Vancouver Film School consistently puts out some pretty impressive clips. Their videos do contain an occasional miss, but they’re not infected with the commercialism that is embedded in today’s professional content.
17.) Muggle Sam – Normally, I’m not the sentimental type, but you’d have to have a heart of stone to not be touched by Sophia and Isabella. They are two young girls who are growing up on YouTube. Every episode reminds me of how great it was to be a child. Each day you learn something new about the world. What really makes the series stand out is the quality of it’s editing. Muggles Sam has a special talent for taking small clips and using them to tell a bigger story.
18.) The Gigaom Show – Most of the interviews that I see on TV are usually by a reporter who really doesn’t know all that much about the person they’re talking to. The result is a quick 30 second clip of PR spin. When it comes to the Giga Om show, you can expect a much deeper level of analysis. Because Om Malik and Joyce Kim follow the tech industry so closely, they know the right questions to ask their guests. The show is currently on hiatus for the summer, but I’m looking forward to seeing more episodes in the future.
19.) Reel Geezers – Who needs professional movie critics when you can watch Marcia and Lorenzo share their take on the latest Blockbuster films? This Octogenarian Duo has been broadcasting their own movies reviews for a little less than a year and have already built a respectable following. I don’t always agree with their take on the movies, but, but I still enjoy hearing them.
20.) aniBOOM – aniBOOM helps cartoon and animation creators monetize their content. They use YouTube to showcase some of their best stuff. As a big fan of cartoons for grownups, this subscription is one of my favorites.
Davis Freeberg is a technology enthusiast living in the Bay Area. He enjoys writing about movies, music, and the impact that digital technology is having on traditional media. Read more at Davis Freeberg’s Digital Connection.