YouTube directors ready for postproduction

Companies that make editing software and digital cameras are trying to cash in on video-sharing craze. Images: Tools for directors

Matt Harding had just finished recording himself dancing in front of some of the world's most recognizable places: the Golden Gate Bridge, the red dunes of Sossusvlei, Namibia, and the great stone faces of Easter Island.

The creator of the video known as "Where the Hell is Matt?"--an inspirational montage that features Harding dancing a jig in 39 countries--was disappointed with the video's raw footage when he sat down to edit.

Images: Tools for YouTube directors

"It looked washed out," said Harding, 29. "But a friend told me about Sony's Vegas editing tool. It was great. I lowered the brightness and raised the contrast, and instead of a light orange, the dunes became burnt red, which is how they really look."

Consumer electronics and visual-effects creators are getting the message: The YouTube generation is clamoring for tools that can help polish and add a touch of Hollywood to their homemade videos. They're demanding ease of use, low prices and visual effects that wow audiences.

Most of the material found at Revver, Metacafe and YouTube typically doesn't include much in the way of production values. It's usually just some guy with a camera recording his dog, baby or girlfriend. But the numbers of people trying to infuse their work with a unique look and craftsmanship are growing, says YouTube videographer Stevie Ryan.

Ryan is an out-of-work actress living in Los Angeles whose videos are consistently among the most viewed and discussed on YouTube. She appears as different characters, such as the thickly accented Latina from East Los Angeles known as "Lil' Loca." She's also has appeared as Paris Hilton, a siren from Hollywood's silent-film era, and a rock-video glamour girl. She's able to pull this off in part because of the visual elements she's acquired.

"I go whole hog," the 22-year-old Ryan said.

She spends hours scouring the Web for video-effects software and has plunked down big money for digital fonts. She says she has to keep up with YouTube's growing list of serious video makers, who produce increasingly sophisticated clips.

The Bowiechick influence
One of the people Ryan singled out as one of YouTube's more artistic and technologically savvy videographers is Bowiechick.

Melody Oliveria, known as Bowiechick at YouTube, made at splash on the site last March when she uploaded "Breakup." As the self-described video blogger speaks to the camera about splitting with her ex, she simultaneously changes her on-screen appearance using computer graphics so that she looks like she's wearing Clark Kent glasses, or has strapped on a gas mask, or has transformed into a cat.

The visual effects she used, made by consumer products maker Logitech, caused a stir in the video-sharing community. The clip, viewed 1.4 million times since March 20, also appeared to briefly boost sales of Oliveria's Web camera, a Logitech Quickcam Orbit MP.

Known for making computer peripherals such as mice and keyboards, Logitech sees the rising popularity of video sharing as a potential boon, says Patrick Seybold, a company spokesman.

Last month, Logitech launched its most advanced Web cam yet, the $130 Quickcam Ultra Vision. In a statement, Logitech said that the camera offers twice the image clarity of other Web cams, "even our own."

The most expensive of Logitech's Web cams, the device is obviously targeting the video-sharing market. "The amazing growth of YouTube usage is driving the next wave of communication," Seybold said. is also trying to tap into video sharing. The San Francisco-based company invites people to use its online editing tools for free. Users can cut their movie, add dissolves, sound effects, music, and in one of the coolest features, add clips from fellow video producers' libraries.

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