friday 5 | video, video, video, and more video ::
:: over the past couple of years the online video space in China has gone through many changes. Several domestic video sharing sites (VSS) have changed focus / strategy, gone out of business, or were forced to shut down in one of the government anti-”filth” campaigns. The big players, which currently include Tudou, Youku, 6 Rooms, Ku6 and 56, have been able to persevere. Nothing new or interesting there. Baidu has a handy listing of ALL the major players in the online video biz.
Slightly more noteworthy are the ongoing efforts by general online portals to beef up their video capabilities and offerings. Sina and Sohu videos harness the reach of those portals’ blogging platforms to promote videos and have tools for seamless integration with other user-generated content. See also Netease and QQ. Additionally, these portal seem to be slightly more lax in how they filter copyrighted material than the VSS and other more video-focused platforms.
Now, to the interesting stuff! The recent growth of the online video space in China has driven significant diversification / niche-ification. A world of sites and sub-sites have popped up in China to cater to specific themes, or to support and curate specific types of user generated video content. Below is a snapshot of how this is playing out on the Chinese Internet.
“paike” citizen journalism ::
User-generated videos tend to be divided into a number of different categories on major video hosts. “Paike” (拍客) refers to content that can largely be described as “citizen journalism.” Ku6 has a Paike channel oriented toward netizens who want to report on things in society – subtopics are “news,” “charity and relief,” and “events,” An official post from October 2008 laid out the intent of the channel, which follows the motto “Everyone can be a good journalist.” A BBS forum has been set up to let netizens discuss each other’s reporting. Sina also has a Paike channel that is slightly less idealistic: subtopics include “news,” “women,” “weird news,” and in a nod to online culture, a “jiong” net-speak sub-topic called “strange people and things” (囧人囧事). The videos themselves are often entirely netizen-shot and edited: one Sina Paike video is a classic case of a netizen practicing journalism by pointing a camera out an apartment window to capture a grandfather kicking and beating his four-year-old granddaughter. And one Ku6 Paike reporter shot a short about a man who was locked indoors for eight years by his mother. Often, however, these videos are repurposed footage set to background music, although the result still tends to reflect or comment on contemporary society in an original, user-generated way, as in this Sina video about Zhao Benshan’s expensive cars.
games recordings ::
17173.com, a major gaming portal, has an entire sub-site devoted to videos about video games. Some of these are promotional videos released by game companies, but others are in-game / live-game recordings made by players themselves. A variety of tools exist to allow gamers to record their gameplay — missions, speed runs, and impressive fights — so they can share it with the world outside. 17173 has videos related to a wide array of popular online, single-player, and platform games. The sub-site also has a BBS, which features the slogan “I can be the director of my own game” (我的游戏我导演) and claims to be “the country’s only specialty forum devoted to game video production.” Commenters share software suggestions, techniques, and works-in-progress. WOW Movies, associated with the Shanghai College of Interactive Digital Art (CIA), is another gaming video website whose focus is limited to the World of Warcraft universe. Videos are categorized by character class, game version, and activity: the PK (player vs. player, or head-to-head) board is particularly active. Videos are available for download through a normal web browser (for visitors), high-speed tools (for members), and BitTorrent; online viewing is supported but uses embedded videos that have been uploaded to other video hosts such as Youku (example).
niche art ::
Some Web sites geared toward creative types offer video services that are a little more refined than cell phone captured clips of cat antics. ArtIntern (艺术国际) is an artist-oriented community that features a video channel. Videos include artist interviews, art news, and video anthologies of visual arts, as well as original video compositions mostly produced by Chinese art students. Neocha.com, a social networking site for Chinese creatives (musicians, photographers, designers, digital artists, etc.) and has a small, approval-based only video channel for original creative productions. The site’s video channel has a collection of well-crafted videos including mixed animation and jam sessions. More on the pop side of things is Bobig, a community of net-lit writers and comics artists that has a sub-section devoted to “cell phone animation” (手机动漫), which are original movies and Flash reinterpretations of other popular videos, suitable for viewing on small-screen hand-held devices.
Professional music videos (both mainstream and indie) can be found all over China’s major VSS; also served up on these sites is concert videos and bootlegs (see Youku). Music-specific websites like 9sky have channels for music videos. More specialized sites exist as well: DMC163 provides DJs / electronic musicians with tunes at a variety of “beats per minute,” information about equipment, and a whole bunch of videos of DJs in action. It’s a curated collection of videos of foreign and Chinese DJs hosted on other video sites. Another sort of curated music collection is housed on Increep, an aspiring rock-oriented SNS. The video subsite has a fairly large collection of bootleg videos of live music performances, mostly Chinese and international rock. It’s something of a false front, because only a few users seem to be contributing video content or editing the rock wiki, but it does demonstrate that even tiny niche Web sites can easily take advantage of video streaming: Increep uses the BokeCC plugin service to seamlessly outsource its video hosting needs.
original creative shorts / films ::
Another category of user-generated video content is “original work” (原创). Creative Tube is a website devoted to original short films. These include live-action DV shorts and animation and are divided into various categories and rankings. There are some fairly captivating images in these videos, like transformers rampaging through Beijing. Creative Tube and its parent, Asia Media Entertainment Ltd, recently sponsored a contest for original Chinese shorts in concert with major video hosts like Ku6, 56, and Sina, as well as smaller “creative video” hosts like Aeeboo, which contains original animation like “Rabbit Martial Arts” and live-action shorts like “Remembering our university days”. Neocha has artsy original videos as well, ranging from dramatic shorts like this video by “yhoney” of a young woman dealing with a difficult emotional situation, to more eclectic fare like a graphically enhanced video created by user Yufei. Traveling on Subway Line 8 from Sihui station in Beijing, yufei filmed a journey of tunnels, buildings and lampposts, mirrored horizontally, monochromed, and rendered into a surreal landscape.
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