Buffer Fest has been on my radar since it started three years ago. This year is my first year attending it was also the first year they did Creator Day: a full day of workshops and talks designed specifically to help small-time creators build their channel and brand. I love the idea of this and the fact that I was accepted at all made me glow with creator glee. It also made the festival more accessible to people who want to create better and make friends, not just those who are interested in viewing screenings.
I will say that from a social standpoint, I was making friends as soon as I got in the building. People seemed to be okay to just come up and say hello, talk about what we like to make and exchange channel info. I had a group to spend the whole day with!
I could tell from the get-go that Buffer Festival and the people who run it genuinely care about small creators. They want to know what we want from them and how they can help us best. With this being the first year of Creator Day, there were obviously some hiccups but I found they used their extra time to talk to us. They took our questions, asked us where we are struggling in building our channel/audience/brand, and helped us get a better understanding of what we need to do YouTube full time. They also made sure to make themselves available, offer business cards, and were generally accessible for networking.
In the spirit of building a better Buffer Festival, I have some thoughts and constructive feedback as someone who attended Creator Day.
The breakdown of the day was fairly simple. After being together as a group for the introductions and keynote, we were split into two groups. One group did workshops in the morning with presentations in the afternoon, while the second group did the alternate activities. I did workshops in the morning and presentations in the afternoon.
Shooting with your DSLR was the first workshop I attended. It must have been sponsored by Canon because we got a bit of swag (and promo codes!) and they taught us using Canon models. I liked this panel because while everything was specific to Canon, it was information we could use. This is really important for a sponsored panel and you will understand why after the following workshop.
Next for my group was the Lighting Workshop presented by Ryerson University. I thought this was extremely helpful! The presenter was conscious of the fact that we are all new creators and have very small budgets. She taught us how to trick good lighting with cheap products. I was able to ask specific questions about things that I’ve had trouble with and get great solutions and advice!
Our third workshop was Shooting with your Cellphone presented by LG. This is the workshop that most of my fellow creators didn’t learn very much from. Let me begin by saying that sponsorship of this festival is so appreciated and important because we got an event that helps us grow and learn for freeee. My complaint is not that the workshop was clearly sponsored (because Canon managed to do okay). My complaint is not with the fact that it was a half hour of an LG G4 sales pitch (like I said, sponsors are great and we got a free Creator Day!). My complaint is that it was scheduled as “Shooting with YOUR Cellphone.” We didn’t learn a single thing about how to shoot with the phones we currently have, only that our phones are clearly inferior to the LG G4. There were a few people I spoke to who were very disappointed by not learning how to shoot videos with the phone that they have. No mention of how to mount your phone to a tripod or if there are any creative apps we’d find useful. We just played with a phone that none of us could afford ($700 yikes!). I think that workshop would have sat better with me if it were titled something else, perhaps “Best Phones to Shoot HD Video,” “The Latest in Mobile HD Video,” or even a straight up “Sponsored Panel: LG’s Newest Smart Phone.” All of this aside, though, I do need to say that the LG G4 is a powerful device with DSLR-esque customization in the camera for really amazing shots. Maybe we can afford it after we get famous on YouTube!
The next workshop we went to was How to Get the Best Export Quality. This workshop was a great idea because when I started YouTube I had no idea what I was doing in the export. I just experimented until I got it right. But in this panel they taught us what settings work best with YouTube and how to get the best picture quality based on what we’re shooting with. She actually taught us what a lot of these obscure acronyms mean and so that when we go to the Export Settings page on YouTube it may actually make sense instead of being a long page of jargon.
After lunch my group had our turn in the auditorium for the presentations. We had some cool and interesting presentations about case studies and new things happening in YouTube like 360 video. It was great learning how that works and getting some tips on how we can get our foot in the door while it’s still new. The other talks were about how to make YouTube our full time job, how to go about making money, and Q&As with some of the visiting YouTubers.
The last talk of the evening was called Keeping Yourself Out of Trouble – Legal/Copyright presented by a bona fide copyright lawyer. I feel like this was a very important talk to have but there are ways to make it better. The information was very useful and I understood it because I have previously taken a course on copyright when I studied publishing. I fear it may have been too dry for some of the other attendees and I’m not sure everyone left with as good an understanding of copyright as they could have.
A few ideas I had on improving this portion include:
- Invite YouTubers who have had brushes with the law and are willing to speak to us or answer questions
- Case studies (in the same vein of the above bullet)
- Outline the main areas where YouTubers get in trouble with copyright and address those directly (for example: music covers or remixes, using short clips/sounds for comedic/dramatic effect)
Overall, Creator Day is a huge step in the right direction! We all felt that half an hour was not enough time to absorb as much information as we wanted or to ask all the questions we had. I understand why it was scheduled the way it was; you can only fit so much in the span of a day. I think Creator Day has the potential to grow into something much bigger and I hope this novella of a blog post can help the even coordinators understand better what we thought and hope for in the future. I think five years down the line Buffer Fest is going to look like TIFF and VidCon had a love child.
Thank you to the sponsors of Buffer Festival! LG, YouTube, CBC, Canon, Reelio, and all the others that made this happen for us — thanks for your support and believing in our value!