As online artists, I’m sure we are all well-aware of our lack of resources. Yes, publishing one’s art online has a certain gratification due to the lack of regulations and content control, however most of us are poor college students or struggling artists. We can’t afford the high-end software or the courses available to teach us how to use them. That’s where didactic videos like this come in handy. One of the most important tools viral artists, specifically filmmakers, animators, and game designers, have at their disposal are software tutorials. These tutorials could represent the delivery techne of structured text instructions or video tutorials captured via screencap software. This tutorial in particular exemplifies what I like to call “Hollywood Homebrew”, a method of VFX design that simplifies the mythical realm of Hollywood-grade effects by making the software available to independent artists.
This artist, GWSFilms, has designed a YouTube channel that covers a range of topics in software tutorials. He is also an online artist, and has developed several short films. The video I have selected shows a brief example of how to composite effects in a software called After Effects to create the illusion of three adventurers exploring a fantastical land. In the video, the instructor briefly covers how to create movement within a still matte painting (water, fog, birds, etc.) and how to composite these effects into a final cut.
The means of distribution and circulation of this tutorial are relatively common by Internet standards. First and foremost, the tutorial was published on YouTube and circulated within the filmmaking community using the relevant ‘tags’. However, I found this video on a filmmakers’ subreddit, another medium of distribution. I circulated this tutorial with my Facebook friends using YouTube’s sharing plugin. This video is easily accessible to members of the viral artist community because it is absolutely free. This notion of free-access defines the community spirit of online artists; creative individuals who are satisfied more by the viewership and distribution of their work than by financial gain from it.
Finally, GWSFilms offers a simple yet effective means of interaction. At the end of each of his tutorials, and I’m paraphrasing here, he states, “If you’d like to see tutorials on anything else, just leave it in the comments!”. This is a fairly common practice, which illuminates the concept of economics within YouTube. ‘Currency’, in the YouTube sense, takes the form of the number of likes, number of comments, and number of subscribers. The more ‘likes’ a video receives, the higher up it appears in search suggestions, and the more subscribers a channel has, the more credit they receive as legitimate sources.