This National News Clip Brought To You By an iPhone 4

By now, millions of people have seen this footage, taken out the window of a passenger flight from Orlando to Richmond, Virginia, documenting the blast off of the space shuttle Discovery’s final trip into space on February 24th.


What’s amazing is that a quick-thinking software developer named Neil captured it with his iPhone, and now his footage has been broadcast on MSNBC and popped up all over the net on blogs and news sites.  Think about that–a good percentage of the country has watched this amateur’s footage that he shot with his phone.  Not a news camera. Certainly not a Panavision. Not even a Flip camera–a phone. And a smart phone which allows quick uploads to YouTube. It’s a whole new world…

This is a perfect example of the democratization of production: the ability of anyone, anywhere, regardless of wealth or training, to create filmed content. Celebrities and politicians have to deal with this all the time, being extraordinarily vigilant about maintaining their image every waking moment because they never know when someone will be snapping photos or shooting video of them. The democratization of content is why student work can travel further and reach broader audiences than ever before. And it’s why brands should be continually experimenting in this space, creating clips of inspiration, information and entertainment for their communities to enjoy and share. This is a huge, cost-effective opportunity area that most big brands simply ignore, even as smaller, more nimble niche brands invest the time to reach their audience.  Check out what the clever people of do as they not only sell various products for maintaining healthy, attractive lake fronts, they demonstrate each and every one with a video clip showing the product in use and the end result. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s very, very effective.

As remarkable as this clip is, it’s not the only footage of the launch shot from a commercial plane. While this clip earned upwards of 2.7 million views, a cleaner and arguably even better clip of the same event shot from an Air Canada flight, languishes in the four figures.  But then that second clip lacks this wonderful narration that the pilot made over the intercom on the first clip: “…those of you on the right side of the aircraft, you can see the space shuttle.  People on the left side of the aircraft can probably see the people on the right side of the aircraft looking at the space shuttle.

That’s a good joke. And sometimes, that makes all the difference.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79



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