February 14, 2005 wasn't that long ago. Unless you're under 25. Then it probably seems like a lifetime. But for the rest of us, we remember the day with stark clarity. February 14, 2005 was the day YouTube launched. In just seven short years, YouTube has utterly changed the face of the world wide web, and everything that has happened in our world since then.
On a personal level, In late 2004, I had an idea. I would write and create very short episodic tv shows, around 9 minutes each. They would be specifically tailored to live on the web. They'd have action, and young women doing cool action type stuff. And there'd be an ongiong story that would keep the viewer coming back. Sound familiar?
Of course, back then, the word 'webisode' didn't exist (well actually it was coined in 1995, but wasn't in wide circulation just yet). Most people thought I was crazy. Like, really crazy. But somehow I found an investor who saw the vision, and we started moving forward.
At the time, unless you had venture capitol to build your own server farm (which some of the early pioneers managed to do), iTunes was still the only real place where video content could be delivered with any reliability, and so my investors and I made moves to make a deal with iTunes. I had a season plotted, and several episodes written. We hired a line producer and a budget built. A production company was singed on. I got a director I loved to shoot the first set of episodes. I started casting actresses for the lead roles. The investors were excited. It was all set to go. It was about to happen.
but then.... it happened.
Well, really two things. My investors got cold feet and decided to put their money into a different business (which sadly folded a few years later). Then just a few months later, YouTube launched.
Within mere weeks, people were creating weekly series for web-only release on YouTube. The media covered the new website like wildfire. The floodgates had opened and almost instantly, the entire persona and content of the web changed. Just like that.
While my web series never saw the light of day, YouTube continues to hold a leading edge position in the world of on-line video. Even Facebook, the new bully on the cyber-block, still has yet to even come close to getting a foothold in YouTube's near monopoly on user created content.
So, next time you shoot a little 1080p HD, edit it, add music and titles - all with your phone - and then upload it directly to YouTube over the 4G network and instantly tweet it to your friends, try to remember that just seven short years ago...that shit was impossible.