The update below deals with some of the music from the episode as well as posing the question of where brand new viewers should begin watching our series.
In answer to the question at the end of the last video update, it seems like Episode 5, part 1 is going to come out on top, which makes a lot of sense. I wrote the opening to serve as a gateway for the uninitiated and it seems to be doing it's job rather nicely. Quite a few have mentioned that it was their hook into the series and made them interested enough to sit through the lousy quality of the first few episodes.
Despite uploading a video to YouTube every week, I rarely think of myself as a “real” YouTuber. My “real” content—the content I put the most effort into—comes out a year at a time. One YEAR at a time. Internet-wise, that's just plain irresponsible. A recipe for success it is not. It always feels like a success when the episodes come out, because of the amazing responses, but it feels more like releasing a new movie than an episode of a TV series. There's this agonizingly long period of production and post production then a sudden build up and an opening weekend kind of vibe to the release. If the weekly updates or the short instructional videos I do are sprints, the episode is a marathon I'm running for a year. I felt like the slowest person ever. Or like I was proving something about dedication to a particular story that other YouTubers didn't understand.
Then came Rian Johnson.
I've been on a bit of a young directors kick recently. I watched all the Richard Kelly movies again to see if Darko was still the only one that actually holds together. Yup, but only the theatrical version and by the grace of the viewer. The Box came SO close, but he muddled it up in the middle with his water-box nonsense and tied it to the worst Cameron Diaz performance ever recorded. Which is just unfathomable. I like Cameron Diaz a lot.
Then I dove back through the Rian Johnson movies. Fantastic. And now to my point, it took him six years to get the financing to makeBrick. That's a haul. My one year of dedication to an episode is like NOTHING compared to six years of pounding on a project before he even rolled one frame on it. And that movie, you guys... Damn it. It's sooooooo good. The way the script doesn't slow down for you or hold your hand while explaining it. Every directorial choice. Some of the gimmicks don't quite fly but he was swinging for the fences and overall it just soars. So considered, sculpted, and beautifully executed, on like no money. Gotta be one of my favorites. Just awesome.
Anyway, if he can do that for a project he believes in, I can spend a year on an episode I believe in.
Thanks for reading.
The video update below exhibits my absolute thrill over the responses we got to episode 8 of PoPS over upload week and we talk to a very active member of our YouTube community about the nature of internet communication. Side note: The dude lives in Australia, so as we talked it was like 10pm my time, 1pm the next day his time. And summer for me, winter for him. Isn't that weird to think about?
The comments and views are still coming in for episode 8, and it's all still such nice feedback and enthusiasm pointed in our direction. I've only just finished my initial episode-wrap up work. The episode parts on YouTube are all closed captioned, I scanned in my personal copy of the episode 8 script with all my shot notes in the margins for the donation perks where people get a digital copy of it and the few who get a bound copy of it, got the full episode to Ryan to run unbroken on our website, I made and mailed the master discs for the episode 8 DVD and the 1-8 DVD perks to the Harris boys—the wonderful father/son team who duplicate our discs as a contribution to the show, and I made a new Intro to PoPS video for our YouTube Channel. It's 85 seconds long, has less story-spoilers, more show-flavor, and I think it's a better indication of the tone of the show with enough VFX to show what we can do on that front:
Plus, the thumbnail is just B.A.-all-the-way. The B.A. Stands for badass. One of my favorite shots from the series so far. Not just because I'm the one in focus.
I might do a video update about my captioning process in the next few weeks, because I finally got a system together that I think works pretty well.
Anyhow, now that I've done my part on the initial donation fulfillment and got the captioning put to bed, I have a couple days where I can actually take a break if I want to. Like tonight. I may have a quick Skype talk to do for the update this week, but other than that I might actually lounge around and watch a movie. On a weeknight! Before the show I spent A LOT more time watching movies. I wonder what I'll watch? It's so exciting. Being out from under another episode—especially one that's been so warmly received—makes me feel a little adrift. Just untethered for a moment. Eliza told me last night that she thinks I don't really know what to do with myself right now. It's true. I feel like I should be doing something more. Eh. I'll start writing episode 9 in a few days. Until then, Happy 4th of July, Americans!
We launched Episode 8 on Sunday. We're implementing the same release model as last time. Viewers who want to watch the full 61-minute episode all at once can just click through to the next part on the endscreen, where the rest of the parts are already uploaded, just set to unlisted. That way, people who like the old model can still just watch one segment per day. More importantly, but clicking them over to public a day at a time, the episode shows up in subscription boxes every day for a week.
The viewing numbers are pretty low, comparatively (this is to be expected, no YouTubers are pulling the numbers they're used to), but the responses we've been getting are phenomenal. Everyone is so excited about the story and the characters. Story events are taking them by surprise and the comments are filled with really emotional, really visceral reactions. It's the greatest thing ever.
Backing it up, the day before release Eliza mentioned I should do a quick Previously On. I hadn't planned on doing one because I was under the gun to get everything uploaded and annotated for the next day. But I got an idea of how to do one really quickly and how to make it cool, so I whipped it up in a couple hours:
It ended up being one of my favorite PoPS promos I've ever made. 24 seconds and I think it's just SO COOL.
The next day we set the first part of the episode to live. In the hours leading up to it, as I was verifying that all the annotations worked, people started commenting that they were getting ready for the launch. I was getting countdown tweets. One person set up a countdown timer attimeanddate.com. I was hearing from a guy who was throwing a little PoPS release gathering. It just felt kind of anticipated. It was nice. As the countdown ticked over, I set the first part to public and walked away.
Eliza and I made breakfast and I just sat at the table, feeling weird. I'd just spent the last 10 months making this thing and I knew people were out there watching it. I felt a little nervous, but it was also just weird to know that it was being experienced out there, away from me. While I was eating eggs. It felt really strange.
When I stepped back to the computer later in the day to check comments, it just blew my mind. People were so worked up over what happens in the episode. Comment after comment coming from people who were emotionally invested in what we'd made. Not only was it funny, it was serious, scary, and shocking. All of the beats were landing. It was the greatest day. It's been a few days now and the comments are still coming in.
A YouTuber named TheThirdPew, who I first learned of a while ago when he used PoPS footage in his YouTubers Sing compilation videos, made a video encouraging his audience—which has grown substantially over the last year—to watch the show. It was just nice to hear him talking about how much he enjoyed the show, but then he also cut together a quick PoPS sizzle reel to lead by example that ends the video.
That video has ended up raising our subscriber number by about 1500 over the last couple days. How unbelievably nice of him.
Then this guy Thomas, who we met at Vidcon last year, and his girlfriend Jenna uploaded an episode 8 response video. Of course, it's filled with every spoiler in the episode, but getting to watch them react to a bunch of different story turns and lines of dialogue was such an absolute joy for me. Especially at about 9 minutes and 50 seconds in.
I am so using that clip in the video update this week.
It's just been an incredibly validating release week and I feel a little worn out and emotionally drained from taken it all in. So wonderful. Just a wall of good. I never thought people would react so intensely. It's like everything I've ever wanted in a response to something I've created.
The video below has a quick look at my love for the color correction program Davinci Resolve, as well as addressing the nearness of episode 8's release.
I think about movie trailers a lot. I love the way they package a tone and establish a set of expectations. They try to tempt you. Same with commercials for TV shows. In a short time I'm going to convince you to dedicate more time to this longer thing. When it comes to internet stuff, though, a lot of time having a trailer just feels pointless. A lot of the stuff we watch on the internet is because of links and word-of-mouth blurbs, not trailers. Someone we know or enjoy enough to follow online thinks it's worthy of watching and they provide us with a link, so we click and watch. I understand the purpose of them, you want people to be ready to watch your thing as soon as you upload it. Your trailer has your release date. You want to drum up the same kind of excitement you feel when you see a trailer for a cool movie. That's why I do them. I want people to be watching it as soon as it goes up. So here's the trailer for episode 8.
Yeah. The release date is three days from now. I released the trailer for episode 1 a little over six months before we released the episode. That had more to do with waiting to see if we got into a pilot competition before uploading it, but six months between a trailer and the episode it's for is internet-ridiculous. The trailer for every other episode went up about two to three weeks ahead of release. Every time the same thing happens. It gets a bunch of views and stirs up excitement for a few days and then everybody forgets about it. By the time I launch the episode, I get some of comments from people like “Oh! I forgot this was coming out today!” So, what's the point? Three days is enough time to get people ready to watch and then we drop it on them right away. Plus, Vidcon is next weekend. I don't want the episode to come out while everyone is at a huge YouTube convention doing the face-to-face thing instead of the sitting-at-their-computer thing. I don't want to wait a whole other week for people to get home and decompress. So, let's do it now. I just have a couple touch ups to do and we'll upload it.
The cast and crew screening was outstanding, I might add. Listening to people react to it is unbelievably exciting.