8 Feb 2018

Quality Over Quantity

WORDS x Kevin Shiramizu
PHOTOS x YT (Sceen Grab)

As attention spans get ever shorter, is the solution for media to get longer?

We went from full length VHS/DVD releases to web videos. Then to even shorter web videos. Then to Instagram. Now, the ephemeral “stories” feature all while clamoring for more, more, MORE. The insatiable thirst for media content has left many creators wondering just what the hell they have to do to keep up, and grab your eyeballs for fractions of seconds longer than the competition.

Perhaps the key does not lie in farming the berm for more roost, more flashes, more drones, more 4k/5k/6k/8k/12k3DHD cameras. The new YT Capra bike launch video (below) comes in at a staggering 12 minutes long. And yet the should-be Herculean effort of sitting through this, amid the swamp of 2-3 minute clutter driving everything along time’s relentless arrow, deeper into the abyss of Page 2 and (gasp!) beyond, was in fact, a pleasure.

When was the last time you watched a bike video with a script? (It was probably something from Juicy Studios, right?)
When was the last time you watched something where the story wasn’t just “Our pro/bro shreds this bike like you can only hope, in places you can’t afford to visit.”?
When was the last time you watched a bike launch video that had costumes? (Was it the Cotic videos from the UK?)

What YT did with the Capra bike itself was probably predictable- not bad, but predictable: lower stand-over, longer reach, bold new graphics, etc. But what they did with the launch video was refreshing as could be. The stats from sosh-meeds are driven by teenagers and tracked by young adults who bark up the chain to crotchety old coots that have money. YT isn’t that young anymore, but the talent remains to being open to going against the grain of the establishment and take a risk in doing something that, on paper, is extremely ill-advised – something like dumping a bunch of resources into a 12 minute long bike video where the people aren’t even riding your bikes.

And yet, I sat through that video this morning eager to see what would happen in the next shot. Surely the comments sections will fill with haters who don’t get it, don’t see what this has to do with biking, who just want the close-up porn of brown pow spraying the lens. But you know what, those people probably were not going to buy a YT. And if they were, they certainly aren’t going to buy another one someday. They will spring for whatever is the flavor du jour by then. The people bite the hook with a weird video full of quasi-satanic imagery are the kind of customers YT probably want to keep around.

The project covers a lot of familiar ground for bike videos such as the use of gimbals/steadicams, shooting with epic backdrops (like what I assume to be the eastern Sierras), and some kind of attention to post-sound design (shockingly, not by Keith White). A quick look at the credits will reveal just how much effort goes into creating something like this project. Those outside the film production world might not know just what the hell a “2nd AD” does but rest-assured, things don’t run smoothly without one. That set didn’t build, decorate, and light itself. A lot of people put in their skills crafting this into something that stood above the rest of the day’s feed. I could estimate the budget within a reasonable range which I shouldn’t get into here, but let’s just say you can put out enough knock-off-Raw videos to bore us all to death with that money. It may have been the bulk of the YT marketing budget for the year for all I know, but it was money well spent. A lot of people behind the production of this will be able to put food on their families’ tables with those paychecks, which is something you can’t say for the race to the bottom of producing, shooting, and editing posts for some bike company’s Instagram that will be long forgotten before the morning coffee gets cold.

I’m ready for the pendulum to swing back in favor of “Story”. The frenetic energy of look-look-look-ism is exhausting. Now that launching a bike with a short horror film has been done, let’s see what brands and artists can tackle with patience and courage next.

Clap, clap YT.