Friday, December 13, 2013

Content ID: Get a Real Job, You Say?

(Note: nonsensical mess of words ahead.)

This will likely be the only thing I say on the subject, seeing as how the YouTube community has already proven to be both way more knowledgeable and not very knowledgeable at all of what exactly is going on.

Before getting into it, here is where I stand.  I am virtually unaffected by this.  I have a job, am working toward a college degree and treat video-making as a hobby.  I have monetized none of my videos and, to date, have copyright claims on about 55 videos, three of which are blocked in Germany.  Ich bitte Sie, Deutschland.  Most of them are dumb bullshit, but among them are also the Guitar Hero III and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 videos (licensed music), the last part of the Shenmue videos (again, music), one part of the Jumping Flash playthrough (yet again, music), the last part of the Resident Evil: Survivor video and the James Bond Jr. video.  If you are seeing ads on these or any other videos, I have two words for you.  Adblock Plus.  If you're on my blip channel, use it there too.  I'm not sure why it even still exists when I went out of my way to make the front page look as ugly as possible.

However, that doesn't mean others aren't affected.  Some people at RiverCityGamers do monetize some of their videos and can be affected by this.  YouTube's "guilty until proven innocent" approach--don't kid yourself on this one.  It's been like that for a while, but only now has it started to affect larger, partnered/network-managed channels--means that monetization of a video might not be possible now or ever.  YouTube moves at a snail's pace on any sort of claims, even slower than they did when I first started getting claims and had to dispute them left and right to keep the videos on the site at all.

That also means this applies to the "big fish" like Angry Joe, Rad Brad, Classic Game Room and a laundry list of others.  In fact, Classic Game Room, who has been with YouTube since the passing of the first ice age, appears to have up and left YouTube in favor of using his own site for his videos.  The new content ID system is the rough equivalent of treating everyone like Milton in the movie Office Space; management 'fixes a glitch' in payroll which stops him from getting a paycheck and not only does no one tell him about it, they avoid the subject when confronted by him as he continues showing up to work.

In theory I should be somewhat glad about this because, if enough people are driven off YouTube, it opens the opportunity for someone else to step in who couldn't because of the gap YouTube's site creates between promoted and non-promoted channels.  That and I've had various disagreements with certain content creators in the past, namely Joe.  Then again, I've only stuck around as long as I have because of the people who look at or are subscribed to my channel.  If there were a solid alternative to YouTube, I would have left years ago.

That would be the case, except that the same rules everyone has struggled with now apply across the board.  A person in the medium of creating gaming videos now has limited options when any video or audio from the source material is a copyright flag waiting to happen, one which several publishers or creators of the sampled content have had to manually whitelist users who were flagged by YouTube's content ID system without their go-ahead.

Some might say to make gaming-related videos without using the game video or audio.  People have done and do this, with a prominent example being Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation, yet another person I don't really like.  Also note that Yahtzee left YouTube and didn't return with ZP until 2011 on The Escapist's channel.  My opinion on "vlog" style reviewing of games is as follows:

I don't trust you.

That's one thing I give people like Angry Joe and which I try to emulate in my videos.  When I talk about something, positive, negative or otherwise, I show it so you'll know I'm not pulling "facts" or opinions out of my ass.  Vlog reviews of video games are the equivalent of writing a research paper without citing any sources.  Yes, I have done the rough equivalent of that before, and no, I don't expect you to believe or agree with what I say in those videos, much less anything I've posted.

Others have tossed around a phrase I'm all too familiar with.  "Get a real job."  This phrase should have died along with the "real jobs" that became obsolete or unnecessary as time and technology have moved on.  As an aspiring musician, you can probably guess how tired I am of hearing this phrase get tossed around in lieu of an intelligent statement, especially when it implies that there is no work involved in anything that is not a job in the most traditional sense.

What defines a real job?  Having set work hours?  Having some signed paperwork on the subject?  Having a set salary and steady paycheck?  Having a boss?  As someone whose father works as a self-employed architect, all but one of the prior conditions does not apply to him.  Try telling him he doesn't have a real job.

In the sense of a "real job" not involving the use of material originally created by other parties or for the purposes of review or parody, I suppose anyone who samples sounds or music like DJs or musicians have real jobs.  But then, would the original content creator, who is also a musician, have a real job?  Let's not go into anything too paradoxical.  As for parody, comedians and entertainers don't have real jobs.  For review, critics of various things such as video games, movies, food, toys, books, cars, computers, and more 'I think you get the point' examples don't have real jobs, even though there are several such people employed in such roles, "real jobs" if you will, by various outlets.

There seems to be a disconnect between the idea of a "job" and doing "work."  Let's ignore the old formula of plopping a camcorder in front of a TV and talking over it in real time for something like I would do.  Game reviewing is not a job of mine.  I try to show what I can from the game so, depending on its length and content, on average I end up recording roughly 10-12 hours of footage for the one game the video focuses on.  Then I go back and review all of the footage, taking another 10-12 hours, making notes about what happens where and which clips illustrate different points.  As this is going on I also have to script out the entire video, hitting all talking points and organizing everything into a pseudo-comprehensive and logical flow while marking sections for narration over game footage, live-action shots or other external clips.  I also do background research on the game, its developers, etc.  Depending on writer's block and information availability, this can take anywhere from three to eight hours.  Then after all that I film any live segments and locate external video clips, which takes maybe an hour if things go well.  Then I finally start editing which, depending on how my editing programs feel that day, usually takes about 9-10 hours.  Then I can finally render the video which, depending on length, might take another 2-3 hours, and assuming the whole video rendered correctly then I can upload it.

If you do the math, that equals anywhere from 35 to 46 hours of work on average.  That's for a relatively short game, too.  Things like Evergrace or Muramasa wound up with closer to 25 hours of recorded footage.

I'm getting sidetracked.

The point is this: don't fall into the trap of thinking that because X is enjoyable, any form of profiting or working through X is automatically not considered a "real job."  Also, stop talking like a crotchety old man.  That's my "job."