Lachlan Smith

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Casey Neistat's YouTube Popularity is Toxic

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June 11, 2016

I don't have anything against Casey Neistat, his vlogs are well done and he deserves the audience he has. He has also fairly new to vlogging as there has been many people before him, but what he brings to the format is his experience and film making style.
 
This style has inspired other vloggers to be more creative with their vlogs and use cinematic elements to enhance the story and keep interest. This is part of the formula that has helped casey to become so popular. Be inspired by but don't idolise, Casey Neistat isn't a saint and doesn't pretend to be.
 
But there is a growing problem with his fame, and it's not just the growing expectations of his audience, mostly young millennials. But some of his fans are now actively accusing other vloggers of stealing his style. I am giving you this guide to demonstrate how silly this really is. Casey explains that all parts of his vlog are there to help tell a story, and he uses these techniques to do that:
 

  • Time lapses, Casey uses these to frame the vlog by setting time and place for the audience
  • Drone footage, Casey uses drone footage to frame place for the audience
  • Sets the scene by placing the camera up and then walking into the scene, again this helps the audience by setting the place, otherwise known as an establishing shot
  • Doesn't cut when zooming from a medium shot to a close up

When you break it down to use the tools you have make classic story elements by introducing the scene and then acting it out. You can see why the formula is so successful and anyone else who uses these elements gets accused of stealing. But as any artist knows, it is ok to be inspired by other artists as long as you create your own art. It is how you bring your own story and experiences to the art that matters.
 
Then there is the issue of equipment. Every piece of equipment Casey uses is mass produced. Literally anyone can buy it, and lots of people use it. He wasn't the first to use this equipment and certainly isn't the last.
 

  • Uses a mid range DSLR, The Canon EOS 70D
  • Uses a wide angle lens, 10 mm on APS-C sensor for 16 mm full frame equivalent
  • Uses a Gorillapod as a DSLR grade selfie stick
  • Uses the Rode Videomic Pro
  • DJI Phantom 4 drone

 
Back when YouTube first gave popular YouTubers a creator grant, most of them rushed off and bought the Canon EOS 60D, they didn't copy each other, they bought the best camera that the YouTube grant covered. The EOS 70D is the successor to that camera and has been responsible for much of the popular YouTube content since. The Rode Videomic Pro is hands down the most popular videomic, virtually everyone uses it.
 
However up until Casey most people used the Canon Powershot S100 series cameras for vlogging. It is far more concealable and less of a burden to add to your day, and you look a lot less weird than using a Gorillapod selfie stick with a DSLR. The quality is better, but the real benefit is that 10 mm wide angle lens. The wide angle gives the vlogs a much more TV feel to them with the protagonist set against the scene in a medium shot rather than constantly being in a close up.
 
YouTube is a community, and telling people they can't participate after being inspired by Casey, and then learn their own stills and style is very anti-community. Everyone has a story and deserves to be able to express it. If you don't like it, then someone else will. That doesn't mean you have to go and leave mean comments, save those moments of your day and do something constructive (constructive criticism always welcome). Casey is a good vlogger, so if that inspires you go ahead, and in the words of Casey himself, Just keep uploading.

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