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Ellis: Web video creators find niche in Savannah

Are you into cat videos, let’s plays, unboxings, or watching SNL on Sunday morning? You’re not alone; Cisco is predicting that within the next two years video content will account for 80 percent of internet traffic. Mark Zuckerberg calls web video a “mega trend,” and foresees Facebook news feeds to be all video within five years. None of this is shocking news to the web video creators already thriving in Savannah.

Bob Clagett has worked on all kinds of digital projects in Savannah for the last 20 years, but since 2015 he’s focused full time on his YouTube Channel “I Like to Make Stuff” (ILTMS) where you can watch while Bob fearlessly tries to build things in his workshop. Whether it’s a skateboard, a light saber or a secret door in a bookcase, ILTMS conceives, shoots, performs, edits and releases a web video every week . This relentless pace is one of the reasons he’s been able to join the elite ranks of YouTubers that earn a living from their channel.

Bob has methodically grown his audience to 1.2 million subscribers, and that secret door video has garnered over 8 million views alone. His videos are upbeat and feature professional music, titles and special effects. Bob studied design at SCAD, then worked for years as a professional designer before installing cameras in his workshop. He’s cultivated a unique set of skills that serves him well as a YouTuber and differentiates his channel from thousands of others.

Paragon Design Group produces a different kind of how-to video called “explainer videos.” These videos are made for organizations that need to make complex things easy to understand. Demand for these videos is skyrocketing, particularly among non-profits like World Vision and Unicef. Paragon co-founder and head strategizer Susan Isaacs says: “Video can simplify information, but video is also experiential, which means it can reach not only your head but your heart.”

Paragon has gained national recognition for a web video produced for the George W. Bush Institute on the plight of Afghan women under the Taliban. It was a complex video to make: they had to give a history lesson, tell a personal story, illustrate a dire need as well as convey a sense of hope, all in under two minutes.

They also have to be careful not to offend people when dealing with sensitive subjects which, by definition, people don’t want to see illustrated in a video. “We ask ourselves: what would Hitchcock do?” says Andrew Davies, Paragon’s co-founder and lead creative juicer. “Hitchcock was a master of restraint. Sometimes when dealing with sensitive subjects it’s what you don’t see that stays with you.”

Donnie Woods and Juwan Platt of BCKYRD embrace even shorter videos for use on social media. Their “micro videos” are 15 to 30 second shorts that catch the eye and lure in new customers for clients like Parker’s Convenience Stores and Hotel Indigo. In videos for Rise Pies, boxes stack themselves and an entire pizza gets devoured quickly in stop motion. Their videos are short but they share the same high production values of ILTMS and Paragon. In fact, the shorter the video, the faster you have to grab attention and tell your story.

Eric Darling, founder of eThree Media, knows a thing or two about viral videos. He was part of the team behind lawyer Jamie Casino’s Super Bowl ad that set the Internet ablaze a few years ago. These days he works on video projects for large corporate clients like JCB and Memorial, and he says successful videos all share the same basic ingredient: “If you want to get shared far and wide, you need to tell a good story.”

SCAD is one of the reasons Savannah has developed such an active video production industry. Another is the attention the State of Georgia has put into making Georgia a “Camera Ready” state, offering incentives and other resources to filmmakers. A recent economic impact study shows that media creation, including digital video, is a unique opportunity for Savannah that will grow stronger in upcoming years.

To sum it up, Savannah entrepreneurs can benefit from all this local talent, both via networking and by getting into the video game yourself. Tight budget? No problem. At a recent 1 Million Cups Savannah event, Allen Edwards of Vallen Productions described ways small businesses can get started with web video using little more than cell phones and unscripted monologues. “Your raw material is your story,” Allen says, “the rest is easier than you think.”

Blake Ellis is a board member with The Creative Coast, a non-profit organization supporting local innovators which is made possible by the City of Savannah and the Savannah Economic Development Authority. Blake and has been involved in dozens of Savannah-based start-ups. Blake can be found online via Twitter at @blakeellisjr.

PHOTO CAPTIONS:

“Paragon” Photo: Paragon Design Group’s Susan Isaacs and Alison Christie take a break from web video production.

“Bob Clagett” Photo: Bob Clagett at work in a how-to video on his YouTube Channel “I Like To Make Stuff”.

ARTICLE URLS:

I Like To Make Stuff - https://www.youtube.com/user/iliketomakestuffcom

Paragon Design Group - https://www.iamparagon.com/

We Are Afghan Women: Voices of Hope - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zya-woif4Ys

BCKYRD - https://thebckyrd.com

eThree E3Media - www.ethreemedia.com

Vallen Productions - www.vallenproductions.com

More Info

Breakout Box: 

Savannah Web Video Creators

I Like To Make Stuff - https://www.youtube.com/user/iliketomakestuffcom

Paragon Design Group - https://www.iamparagon.com/

We Are Afghan Women: Voices of Hope - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zya-woif4Ys

BCKYRD - https://thebckyrd.com

eThree E3Media - www.ethreemedia.com

Vallen Productions - www.vallenproductions.com

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