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Joseph Scarbrough launched what he called "The Scarblog" as a way of cataloging his work over the years, as well as going into greater detail of things on his mind (known as "Unfinished Thoughts").

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

And This is Why I Never Advertise (and Other Stuff)

In the almost nine years I've been producing content on YouTube, not once have I ever asked anybody to subscribe to my channel. Never. In fact, I don't even go around procalating or advertising my channel in general, unless somebody expresses interest and asks about it - otherwise, I just stay quiet and let people find it on their own.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people talk to me about advertising and ask what I do about it. What people don't seem to realize is that advertising does nothing but make enemies for yourself: I learned that the hard way in the days before I even began creating original content for the web - when you advertise what you're working on, all it does is tick people off at you, because they see it as nothing more than shameless, desperate cries for attention, and thus are actually less likely to look at your work . . . and if they do, it's usually just to troll and tell you how much it sucks.

Unfortunately, when you don't advertise, you're really not getting much notice, and as a small channel on YouTube, that can be problematic - especially when YouTube itself just loves to hawk these bigger channels, and in the process, sweeps the smaller channels under the rug. In fact, YouTube has not-so-subtly been reserving more and more special features for bigger channels with thousands and millions of subscribers. Sure, small channels can access certain features like being able to upload videos longer than fifteen minutes, and using custom thumbnails - both of which are wonderful and helpful (even though it took me a year just to get YouTube to send me a verification code to unlock them) . . . but certain other features are unavailable to you unless you have an insane amount of subscribers (like a 100,000 minimum). For example: YouTube had formally announced that they were retiring tags a year or two ago, but apparently it was only for small channels, because apparently bigger channels have been unaffected by this (because in speaking with different owners of bigger channels, apparently tags still work for them) and don't even realize it. Also, notice how whenever you log into YouTube, the first thing you never see are the channels you're actually subscribed to, but rather, what trending videos YouTube wants you to watch. The bottom line is that if you have a small channel on YouTube, you're basically screwed.

So, when the opportunity arose to speak out about this issue, the end results were explosive. A big YouTube celebrity, Casey Neistat, had announced he was ending his daily vlog, and it apparently was such big, earth-shattering news that almost all of the internet exploded over it. It, apparently, was a really, really big deal. Why? Because Casey Neistat is a really, really big YouTube celebrity. How did he get to be a big, YouTube celebrity? Because all he does is just talk about his life. That's it. Come to think of it, this is apparently how a lot of YouTubers end up becoming big celebrities, by just sitting around and talking about random stuff. YouTube has become a sea of people just sitting around and talking about themselves. Who knew YouTube became NarcissismTube? But anyway, the main reason Casey Neistat's retirement was such an explosive news story was because he has a following of over 6,000,000 subscribers. That's all well and good, but what does this say about the smaller channels out there who are struggling to even be noticed? You think the earth would shatter if Tim Kelly announced he wasn't going to do anymore ZOOK & MAX? You think the world would end if Thomas Ferranti decided to give up any of his multi talents like voice acting, character acting, singing, and orchestrating? Julio Robles is planning on a SCRAPSTV reboot, and I don't see this trending on social media.

Since Casey Neistat's retirement was exploding all over social media, I decided to take an opportunity and address this very issue of the struggles of smaller channels on YouTube, the smaller channels that are swept under the rug, the smaller channels that are never seen, the smaller channels that are never given a chance. That turned out to be a mistake. While a few people actually understood the point I was trying to make, other people flipped out, you would have thought I was advertising my own channel . . . and some people actually thought I was, and sure enough, some of those people went out of their way to seek out my channel to attack it. See now why I don't advertise? But here's the thing: in trying to raise awareness of an actual issue on YouTube, a large number of backlashers saw this as a shameless and desperate cry for attention . . . and not once did I ever tell people to look at my channel, and not once did I ever tell people to even subscribe to my channel. Why? Because I don't advertise, because when you advertise, crap like this happens. Some people were even accusing me of accusing Casey Neistat of stealing subscribers away from me (uh . . . what?), which is absurd.

But still, the point remains: why is it that people like Casey Neistat, and others get posturing by YouTube simply for talking about random things going on in their life? In fact, why is it that YouTube has become about trends? Vlogs, reviews, people just talking about nothing . . . I mean, if this is all it takes to be on YouTube, then what's the point of amateur and independent animators, artists, cartoonists, filmmakers, producers, storytellers, and yes even puppeteers, to even bother trying to share any of what they create with other people on a platform that seemingly only caters to people who sit around giving out promiscuious relationship advice, or reviewing why a certain movie sucked, or talking about who they voted for and why you should too? Wasn't YouTube supposed to be an outlet for creative people to share their art and creativity with the world that would otherwise hide it under a bushel? Oh yeah, that was before it was sold to Google, I forgot. There's no room for anything like that on YouTube. But even so, what's so fascinating about talking about your everyday life and having millions of people listen? Are some people's mere existence just so spectacular that it must be shared with the entire world? I guarantee you if I talked about my life everyday, not only would nobody be interested, I'd bore myself.

And you know what's ironic? Why is it also that big channels always beg for subscribers? Getting back to Casey Neistat again, he once did a video begging people to subscribe to he can reach 3,000,000. Dude, you've already got millions and millions of subscribers as it is, why do you have to make a big spectacle about needing even more? And all of these other big YouTubers: how many of their videos always end with them squealing, "Please-please-please subscribe!!! I need more subscribers! Please subscribe! Please subscribe!" Gosh, it's like rich people: they always want more money when they've already got more money than they know what to do with! In a sense, you could actually argue that I at least have something bigger YouTube channels lack: integrity. Because, once again, I never beg, or even ask for subscribers.

But that does beg the question: why is it that advertising actually works for some people, but not for others? Big YouTubers constantly beg for more subscribers and get them; small YouTubers try to earn new subscribers and make enemies in the process. What gives?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Wardrobe Malfunction? Revisited

Original Easter Egg concept art
It's been several, several years since I wrote an entry on something like this (for those who may not remember, the last time I did this was regarding Jennifer's dress), but I feel it's time that this be addressed again, and just like last time, I'm asking for input from you - the fans!

So, here's the rundown: as you may or may not know, Easter Egg is a character who was created to serve that very purpose - to be an easter egg, kind of like Hidden Mickey, so to speak. She serves no real purpose within the Joseph Scarbrough Universe, other than to be thrown in somewhere at random for you to see - sometimes it's obvious, sometimes it's subtle; she doesn't even have a name, that's why she's just called Easter Egg. Some of you have picked up on the way she was designed and dressed - when I designed her, it was specifically to take a swipe at how Jeanette Miller from ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS and Irma Langinstein from TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES look virtually identical to each other . . . perhaps intentionally so.
I could do a whole Unfinished Thoughts write-up about my conspiracy theory as to why the similarities in their designs are so blatatantly obvious . . . but I won't. At least, not now.

Therein lies the problem. Both of these franchises have recently rebooted new animated series (and both, coincidentally, on Nickelodeon), and both characters have received extreme makeovers that they don't even look alike anymore. With that in mind, Easter Egg doesn't resemble either character resembling each other, which just leaves her design looking rather awkward now.
They don't look alike anymore.

I'm not looking to completely redesign the character altogether, but I suppose her wardrobe could use a makeover, giving her a whole new look, and maybe even a whole new 'tude. The thing is, I really don't know what her new wardrobe might look like . . . the one thing I do know is that while I wouldn't mind if her wardrobe had a more contemporary look to it, I kind of don't want it to be something that will look dated in another five or ten years from now, which would prompt another extreme makeover again down the line. So, that's where you come in! Do you have any ideas of what kind of new look Easter Egg should go for? Can you picture her in an outfit other than what she wears now? Hit the comments here, or on Facebook, and share your ideas - who knows, whichever idea seems like the best one may actually become her new look!

In the meantime . . . can you name any specific times Easter Egg's randomly popped up in the past?
What do your glasses say about you?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

My Unfinished Thoughts on Film Vs. Digital **UPDATE**

Okay, you know what? I really need to stop with the video-extensive posts - they're really making Scarblog laggy and sluggish. But, the videos are necessary for this write-up, weighing in on a longtime debate among filmmakers and producers: film vs. digital.

Now, granted, I really have no authority to even really weigh in on this subject myself, as I have never actually had the experience of working with motion picture film at all; the only physical media I've ever worked with in the past was videotape. So, I really can't speak from any kind of experience this time around, and my opinions on the matter are strictly and purely observation, so I really can't be taken to task for something I'm not an expert on.

Still, this has become a really interesting debate. Living now in this digital age, advances in technology sure have made things a lot easier for all of us, haven't they? As far as movie making goes, digital has certainly made the whole production process a breeze: imagine, just shoot something with a fancy-dancy camera, import your footage into a computer, do all of your editing and other little post-production technicals with software, export your final product, and boom, you're done! Isn't that just wonderful! Yeah! Well. . . . Sure, that sounds like an ideal production process, but, could this be too good of a thing? After all, filmmaking is certainly an artform unto it's own, but is it possible that these advances in technology may actually be causing the art to suffer? Is something being lost in the switch from physical, 35mm film to digital media?

I think Quentin Tarantino (tidbit trivia: he's from my hometown) can perhaps sum this all up better than I can as he mentions his preference of film in this interview:

As I mentioned above, I really am no authority or expert on this subject as I've never actually worked with 35mm film (or physical analog film in general), but as I said, even I can make observations of my own, and I have to say, even I can certain tell a difference. Sure, the right kind of digital media certainly can give you a wonderful picture with a lot of sharpness and detail - particularly HD - but there's something that digital can't seem to capture as well as film could: tone. Rather than go into a lot of technical mumble-jumble you don't want to read anyway, here's another video I found that notes the comparisons between actual motion picture film and digital very well:

Even with a treatment to make digital look like film, there's still an obvious difference that you can see. Film seems to capture a certain kind of color and contrast better than digital can capture - even if you try to fix it in post. After I left videotape behind and went to digital, my first stint with digital was standard definition (SD), but since I was using an inexpensive commercial digital camera (and I only had Movie Maker to work with for editing), the results were always middling: muted colors (blues and pinks in particular) were always a headache, but everything had to be lit just right because of the camera's poor exposure. Too little light resulted in a dark, fuzzy, out of focus picture; too much light resulted in a washed-out picture reminiscent of nuclear winter.
Too little or too much lighting can make for some rather unsatisfactory results for your overall shot.

That all changed when I got Adobe Premiere and an HD camera. Since my HD camera has the ability to adjust its exposure, that made lighting a shot much easier, not to mention it picks up colors and detail so much better than my previous camera. TECHNICOLOR DREAMS was my first true HD production, and I've been shooting in HD and editing in Adobe Premiere ever since. Still, there was something about the digital look that wasn't entirely satisfying to me, so I began to play around with the effects to try and enhance the footage I was looking at; by adjusting the brightness and contrast, increasing the color saturation, adding just a hint of grain, and rendering at 24 frames per second (digital is 29.97), I'm able to try to, at least, recreate the look of film. But it's still not quite the same.
Editing TECHNICOLOR DREAMS, my first true HD production.

I've often said that older shows that were shot on 35mm film look remarkably better than shows that are shot digitally today. Take a look at this screencap from a 1970 episode of HOGAN'S HEROES on DVD:
The picture is sharp, the colors are rich, and the contrast is strong.

Now, if we really want to talk about bright, rich, vivid colors, we need look no further than H.R. PUFNSTUF:

Unfortunately, afterwards, Sid & Marty Krofft looked for any way to cut costs (at $54,000 an episode budget, it cost upward of $1,000,000 to produce H.R. PUFNSTUF), and film was one of their first casualties - the rest of their shows were shot on videotape (which was still primitive in the 70s), and they suffered as seen here in on THE BUGALOOS.

Much of what you see uploaded to YouTube has been recorded digitally, in some way or form. Depending on the cameras that are used, and how the videos themselves have been edited, processed and even compressed, they can look pretty good, but still lacking. However, other film enthusiasts out there have taken to YouTube to show the world just how remarkable film can still look today, such as this:

This one is a personal favorite of mine, not only does it still look remarkable compressed down to 720p, but some of this guy's shots actually look like something from a real Hollywood movie:

UPDATE August 49, 2016
I happened to stumble onto this wonderful video essay about the film vs. digital debate, as told by filmmaker Toby Kearton, and I have to say, he puts this into such a wonderful and insightful perspective, that I really shouldn't have even bothered writing up this whole post; I could have just as easily linked to the video and said I agree with what he says. Check it out:

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Commercial Parody - Glasses

I realized it's not that I need to do commercial parodies, it's that I need to do more of them! But, here's a new, full version of Easter Egg's glasses commercial parody.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

The End of Boomsday

To explain this to non-locals, Boomsday is a holiday we have in Knoxville that's also something of a tourist attraction as well: every year on the Sunday before Labor Day, we bid a much-needed farewell to summer with a big celebration that consists of several festivities including live music, family activities, and of course the coup de grace: fireworks. Think of it as an encore of the Fourth of July, but in the beginning of September. It's always a fun holiday to experience - providing the weather is cooperative - and because it's a local/regional holiday, that makes it all the more special for us.

However, yesterday, the city announced that 2015 will be the last year for Boomsday. Why is that? Well, Charlie Brown may not like to hear this, but as it turns out, it costs a lot of money to organize Boomsday every year (last year, the fireworks alone cost $250,000) . . . and at the same time, the city loses a lot of money from the holiday as well. There's been a number of different factors at play, ranging from a lack of corporate sponsors due to the recession, to local restaurants and hotels not receiving enough business from out-of-town tourists; in short, because there's no more money to be made off the holiday, the city has decided to end it after this year.

Boomsday holiday artwork c. 2010

Steve has expressed his love of Boomsday before, but after hearing about its demise, he is less than happy about it, as seen in yet another live meltdown while reporting the news:

My apologies for copying Ken Levine, but this is a repost from last year.