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Lead Facilitators: Corey Vidal, Tim Deegan
The Buffer Festival is an annual event that recognizes and showcases the best creative work from established and emerging YouTube creators. The festival will leverage the most accomplished YouTubers to help emerging talent and brands connect to a relevant audience. Buffer Festival is based on three main components: the curation and celebration of YouTube content and its creators, the film challenge, and the award show which will also be streamed online.
From the fall 2012 until spring 2013, the Buffer Festival was one of seven teams to participate in the CFC Media Lab’s digital entertainment accelerator, ideaBOOST. The program employs the best practices from tech’s lean startup movement and other disciplines. The program’s goal is to help companies navigate the entertainment and technology startup market, sharpen their product vision, and refine their strategies to target audiences and generate sustainable revenues. As part of this program, the teams were exposed to a number of participatory design techniques. Each team made use of several techniques in order to further the development of their projects.
In order to test their concept of a film festival for YouTube creator, the Buffer Festival team decided to Prototype the look, feel and flow of it. This method was used to support the team conceptualize and design the festival.
Participants in the Prototype session included YouTube video creators, their fans, including fans of the videos created by individual members of the ApprenticeA team.
As the Buffer Festival was conceived as a live event that centred around the screenings of YouTube videos and an award show, the team needed to determine whether YouTube fans would be interested in the communal experience of a live event. They also needed to gauge whether fans would pay to attend such as event, even though they could see the videos online at no cost and on their own schedules.
The Buffer Festival team created an outline for the one-night live event, including a list of videos to be screened, an interview with a popular YouTube video creator. Several days before the event, the team announced on YouTube that they were holding a live event for a limited number of people. Those interested in attending the event were directed to buy tickets via Eventbrite. A limited number of tickets was available for $10 each.
While the event didn’t take place at a movie theatre, the team had access to a large meeting space, where they set up a large TV screen and rows of seating. Once attendees had arrived and been seated, two members of the team kicked off the event by explaining the genesis and goals of the festival. This was followed by the screening of a selection of videos by popular YouTubers. Following the screening, a Buffer Festival team member interviewed one the YouTube creators who had been profiled in the screening. To conclude the event, the team invited the audience to a post-screening reception, which enabled the team to gather first hand feedback on the experience from audience members.
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ApprenticeA produced a short video profiling the Buffer Festival Preview evening.
Registration for the event filled up quickly and was sold out by the evening of the event. The audience responded strongly to the ApprenticeA team and their introduction to the event. The videos screening and question and answer sessions with the YouTube creator were also met with enthusiastic support.
The event confirmed that audiences of online video were indeed interested in attending a live event to celebrate excellence in online video. Feedback from audience members also confirmed that fans were interested in seeing YouTubers live and in person. The fact that tickets sold out before the event demonstrated that at the $10 price point was not a barrier for fans of online video.