Web Videos Rise of a New Sector

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“Web video is based on the basic understanding of social media.” Photo: GioGioGio © Fotolia Webvideos sprechen eine andere Sprache als das Fernsehen. Auch in Deutschland existiert mittlerweile eine Szene, die die veränderten Sehgewohnheiten repräsentiert. Markus Hündgen, Geschäftsführer der European Webvideo Academy und Veranstalter des Deutschen Webvideopreises, skizziert im Gespräch die Entwicklungen und das Potenzial der neuen Branche.

Web videos speak a different language from television. Meanwhile, a scene representing changed viewing habits has emerged in Germany. In an interview, Markus Hündgen, director of the European Web Video Academy (EWVA) and organiser of the “German Web Video Award”, outlines developments and potential in this new sector.Mr Hündgen, how are web videos different from ordinary videos?

Markus Hündgen  Photo: © webvideopreis Above all, it is their social component, as the Internet opens up a new dimension of communication – direct dialogue, constant interaction between the producers and consumers of moving images. So what makes the difference, in a sense, is a mentality. Web video is based on the basic understanding of social media. Its makers act as part of a community, interaction is more natural, the media production is more of a process, resulting in a stronger connection with viewers. At the same time, access is universal. Basically, anyone with Internet access who has a camera or smartphone can join in. Increasingly, traditional production structures are being broken down. Today, video is a living, mass cultural technology.

How can you recognise a good web video?

You can recognise a good web video when people watch it from start to finish, comment on it and share it. Initially, video bloggers were popular and influenced the style because they lend their video clips their own face and voice as the protagonists. They stand in front of the camera themselves and address their viewers directly, giving the clips a personal character and recognition factor. The makers become a brand. They make the video tangible for viewers. The clearer it is that a real person has invested work and passion in it, the more any technical shortcomings it may have are overlooked.

What was the aim of launching the “German Web Video Prize”?

Logo of the “German Web Video Award” Photo: © webvideopreis In comparison with a show event like Videoday or a niche prize like the Viral Video Awards, the German Web Video Prize is rather a general, superordinate category, a big independent showcase of German web video culture where good work is recognised with symbolic prizes. Web-specific codes and trends are decoded here. This year, for example, there were prize categories like “omg”, “lol” and “fail”. In future, the German Web Video Prize jury is to consist of previous years’ nominees and award-winners to prevent elites being created and to take account of the community idea. In order to promote knowledge transfer, we also organise a video camp twice a year, which brings together web video makers of different styles and levels of knowledge.


Does the German-language web video scene have any special feature?

The German scene is still relatively young. It is also strongly influenced by successful web videos from the USA – YouTube in particular plays an important role here - and imitates or adapts their formats. So I think that there can only be said to be typically German products to a limited extent. That may also be because although there are opportunities to apply for film funding from the state in Germany, there is no public cultural funding for small-scale web video formats. That is why our Academy is aiming to put in place the required criteria and structures, for example in the form of a differentiated nation-wide scholarship programme. Basically, what the EWVA aims to do is to help the young media genre to further develop its own idiom and to stand on its own two legs. For that to happen, new vocations need to be defined in the medium term and relevantly structured basic and further training concepts developed.

Academy, awards, training: Is the web video scene becoming more commercial?

“One could go so far as to talk of a gold rush.” Photo: Chris Boswell © Fotolia Some call it commercialisation, others professionalisation. One thing is clear – there is a constantly growing market with regard to attention and scope of influence, and this market’s standards are constantly undergoing further development. Meanwhile, a number of different profit-orientated companies and networks have entered the stage. They are all combing the web with questions like, “Who can earn how much money with what clips? For which formats is there greatest demand? When is it worthwhile to start up completely separate platforms in order to achieve greater control of distribution and marketing? In view of these developments, one could go so far as to talk of a gold rush. I believe that in the near future, web video will cause greater upheaval than the introduction of private television did a while ago.
 

Literature:

Achim Beißwenger:
YouTube und seine Kinder: Wie Online-Video, Web TV und SocialMedia die Kommunikation von Marken, Medien und Menschen revolutionieren (Nomos Verlag, 2010)

Bayerische Landeszentrale für neue Medien:
Wo brennt das Lagerfeuer? Smart & Social: Fernsehwelt im Wandel (BLM 2013)

Lars Gräßer / Aycha Riffi (Hrsg.):
Einfach fernsehen? Zur Zukunft des Bewegtbildes (koepad / Grimme-Institut 2013).

Markus Hündgen:
Eine neue Dimension des Bewegtbilds: Web-Videos in: Jabubetz et al: Universalcode: Journalismus im digitalen Zeitalter (Euryclia, 2011)

Christoph Krachten / Carolin Hengholt:
Youtube: Erfolg und Spaß mit Online-Videos (Dpunkt-Verlag, 2013)