Ch..ch..ch Changes – Disposable Video?
It was back in 2004 that I first took up filming live events in earnest – Cornish weddings and rugby matches. In those days DVD was the output of choice and I would run off 15 copies of each game for the senior boys at Truro School. This was just before the start of the Social Media era of YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. Truro City’s 2007 FA Vase victory went out as a double DVD edition without the dulcet tones of Dave Deacon or a summariser. Before I opened my YouTube account in 2010 I started to upload my .mov matchday video highlights to my Piran Films website and I would alert supporters to this via the TISA and Cornish Soccer forums.
How things have changed since the explosion of social media. I have tried to utilise them as effectively as I can but have struggled to keep up with the pace of change, let alone position myself ahead of the curve. Initially there was a great thrill of having one’s video highlights viewed all over the world and watch the hits rise over the course of a few days. It was addictive. I remember vividly filming the away game at my old club Salisbury City in February 2011. Both clubs were vying for top place in Southern Premier League and looking for promotion to the Conference League South. We won the game 6:0. It was surreal. Barry Hayles was on fire that Tuesday evening. Jack Murley was doing his first ever BBC Radio Cornwall commentary alongside Dick Straughan. To this day, the video has received more hits for a Truro City match than any other I have uploaded – currently standing at 5,545.
A year later I teamed up with Dave Deacon to make the product sound more professional. Dave has been my go to commentator ever since but I have also worked with former BBC Spotlight sports presenter Dave Gibbins as well as Dale Godding, the late Matin Banks and my students from Falmouth University. Tom Harris is the one from this new generation who has shown the most promise and interest.
I love having summarisers adding their three pennyworth to the mix. Former Truro City manager and ex pro footballer Steve Massey is the best at telling the wider story of the game – which is what I am chiefly about. In true TMC (Test match cricket) style, he can create an atmosphere with a quirky observation and run with it; enabling me to create a subtle subplot to the highlights. Video is all about story-telling. Recently he has focussed on the solitary gentleman in the hi-vis coat, sitting out a storm in the open stand, or the Wealdstone player who continually over-hit his corners and passes. Mark (Rappo) Rapsey is the most humorous of my summarisers and makes me chuckle (“mate”). And the likes of Glynn Hooper, Jamie Day, Jake Ash and Phil Lafferty are incredibly expert in their understanding and interpretation the game in realtime.
But social media and viewing habits are changing so rapidly and making such a direct impact on my work that I will need to re-assess my modus operandi at the end of the season. In an age where video is now consumed rather than watched, and the average attention span at times is little more than that of the proverbial goldfish, I am seriously questioning the value of my 11 minute YouTube highlights videos. Punters seem to prefer to watch just a goal from a game on Twitter than take the trouble to visit my YouTube Channel.
As for the majority who do make it to My You Tube Channel, they tend to scroll through the highlights videos rather than sit back and watch them from start to finish. The average viewing duration of the above Wealdstone video was 6 minutes and 29 seconds. If that is not bad enough, my 11 minute video has received just 441 hits compared to the clip of Wealdstone’s winning goal (that I gave my permission to go out on Twitter) that has received 1,076 views. If you pardon the analogy, the majority of those aged between 16-34 who watch my videos, would appear to rather wolf down a BigMac in a carpark than savour a three course meal and a glass or red in a quality restaurant.
So, in the space of 15 years we’ve gone from a 90 minute DVD to the 15 second Social Media clip and from watching media on our television or computer to an array of mobile devices. And as to the future, that is anyone’s guess? I believe that there is at least one dark cloud on the horizon with regard to all this. With future changes in technology and viewing habits will we be able to retrieve and watch such footage again in 5, let alone 15 years time? At the moment all of my Truro City video highlights and old DVDs have been uploaded to a playlist on My Piran Films YouTube Channel. But will the platform still be there in 15 years time? If it is, will YouTube have introduced a subscription service by then? The problem of archiving videos for posterity will not go away, as those of you old enough to possess spools of Super 8mm cine films from the 50s, 60s and 70s, will no doubt appreciate.